Aylesford Newsprint Latest

Cllr Trudy Dean writes; Many people are concerned about the amount of traffic which might come from the Aylesford Newsprint site if it is redeveloped for modern businesses which may employ many more people and generate more traffic than the former highly automated paper mill. One possible solution being suggested is a left in - left out entrance from and exit to M20 direct from the site. 

It is very unclear what the effect of this might be. For instance, it might encourage rat running by traffic avoiding the A20 or Maidstone traffic jams. But in order for Highways England to even think about this, KCC as Highways Authority needed to push them into exploring the option. 

I asked a formal question at County Council (a bit like PM questions) to encourage them to do so. KCC confirmed that it is pressing Highways England to explore this option. However, they got the reply that Highways England are opposed to the idea. They say it does not meet their safety guidance on the distance between junctions to allow for weaving traffic. They also say that it would mess up their plans for a smart motorway operation, due to open next year, between junctions 3 and 5 at Aylesford. This is where variable speed limits are used to increase the capacity of the motorway and traffic can be instructed to use the hard shoulder. 

I pointed out that TMBC will not oppose the application on highway grounds unless they get a clear statement of opposition from KCC Highways as well. The Cabinet Member replied that he ‘could not interfere with the professional judgement of officers’. 

 


WEST MALLING HIGH ST, GETTING BIRD BOMBED

Cllr Richard Selkirk has asked the Borough Council to take action on the pigeon flock which is making a mess of the pavement by the zebra crossing each day. We suspect they have been moved on by the restoration work on Arundel House. He has also questioned why the scaffolding is still in position, inconveniencing pedestrians when no work appears to be going on. 


ACTION TO CUT ST. LEONARDS ST. SPEEDS

Cllr Trudy Dean, County Councillor for West Malling has paid some of her Councillors’ Highway Fund for a traffic calming scheme to prevent speeding vehicles spinning out of control on St Leonards Street. There were two more crashes in December.

The traffic calming scheme will include a hatched central island to encourage vehicles to the edge of the carriageway, SLOW markings on the road, and a vehicle activated sign. A new sign will also indicate walkers on the busy crossing between the tower and the park.


Council Tax Ups & Downs

Our Council Tax bills are made of costs of 3 councils, Kent County, Tonbridge and Malling Borough and West Malling Parish Councils.

This year, the Borough Council is completely changing the basis on which it collects Council Tax from April. Since 1974, people living in the areas outside Tonbridge have all got Parish Councils running such services as street lighting, churchyards and playing fields, which they pay for through their parish rate.

But people in Tonbridge have had those services paid for by the Borough rate which everyone in the Borough pays. This led to complaints that parish residents are paying twice and so the Borough Council made grants to Parishes to partly offset this unfairness.

Because of Government cutbacks, the Borough Council has at last decided to charge Tonbridge residents a fairer share of their costs, So your Borough rate bill will go down. But TMBC are also removing the Parish Grants which in W Malling total a loss of over £16,000. This was used to maintain the churchyard, playing fields, and street lights.

West Malling Parish Councillors have agreed unanimously that they do not wish to see any lowering of the standards of maintenance on these areas, and so have had to raise the parish rate to cover the loss of grant. The Borough Council says the effect of the Borough rate going down and the Parish rate going up should cancel one another out.

However, the Parish Council itself has additional costs to meet next year. They will be investing in ...............

  • A further £20,000 on lower energy, safer street lighting. That buys about five new columns.
  • Creating a pension for our new clerk, and equipping the office with a new computer and desks to replace the current planks our staff are working on.
  • Using a contractor to cut the Macey’s Meadow hedge on Norman Road as volunteers are no longer able to carry out this big job. These items add up to around £25,000 and will cost residents on average less than 50p per week per household.

The Council is saving money by ................

  • Moving into smaller premises.
  • Changing our street lights to LED lamps.
  • Awarding all contracts competitively annually.
  • Supporting volunteer groups who are running parish property at the Village Hall, the Cricket Club, Maceys Meadow and the Twitch Inn much more cheaply than we could do commercially.

We are very lucky indeed to have so many people who are active in making West Malling the great place it is to live. We hope residents will feel the additional cost of under 50p a week is good value for money.


Lib Dem membership reaches 87,000 as Article 50 is triggered

The Liberal Democrats have seen their membership surge to 87,000 on the same day Article 50 is triggered.

Over 5,000 members have joined the party since the beginning of February, when Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.

This comes amid reports that the Labour Party's membership has fallen by almost 11,000 over the last four weeks.

Join the Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat President Sal Brinton commented: "The clear message to this Government is we have not given up the fight against a hard Brexit, and thousands of people across the country agree with us.

"This is not the time for despair, it's the time for action.

"Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour may have given Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue her divisive Hard Brexit.


New Speedwatch gear

TWO new Speedwatch machines have arrived for use by the volunteer groups in the three villages represented by Cllr Trudy Dean. They will be used to measure the speed of traffic in local roads in East and West Malling and Larkfield and pass on details of offending vehicles to Kent Police for action. 

All information is now fed from every Speedwatch group in the country to the police so that people caught speeding in multiple locations will have all their offences added up, which was not the case in the past. 

Information from Speedwatch groups is also passed to Kent County Council to show the need for more police enforcement or traffic calming to be installed.

People concerned with traffic speeds in their local roads can join their local volunteer groups and receive a brief training. 

Volunteers in Larkfield should contact Ron Moore via the parish council offices on valerie.servern@btconnect.com. East Malling volunteers should contact Michelle Tatton at Michelle.tatton@aol.co.uk and in West Malling, Richard Selkirk at Richard.selkirk@westmallingpc.org.

 

 


Parishes gagged at site meetings

TONBRIDGE and Malling Council has overturned more than 40 years of practice and will now not allow parish councillors to speak at site investigations into planning applications.

The borough council raised a storm of protest just before Christmas when an announcement was made that parish council representatives and other interested bodies, such as conservation groups, would no longer be invited to site inspections.

During February, the borough council announced that it had reconsidered its position and parish councillors would be allowed to attend but only as observers. Developers will also be expected to open the gates to the property and then leave without taking part.

West Malling Parish Council is opposing the move. Chairman Trudy Dean said: “Since the borough council was formed in 1974, it has been the practice to invite parish councils and other interested bodies to site inspections. They are held infrequently, where applications are particularly complex, or cannot be seen from the public highway. These meetings on site are an opportunity for councillors to see things as they are on the ground, ask questions for clarification, and point out on the ground what their concerns may be about the effect on the surrounding area which is not always apparent from the plans. We know that planning applicants and developers often meet with planning officers on many occasions before an application is submitted, and this may be the only opportunity local people may have to point out improvements that might be made. Planning is a complex matter, and anything that can help understanding and improve the application is good in my book. The move is even more worrying as Tonbridge and Malling Council are no longer appointing a conservation officer, and so the inability of Malling Society members to attend these site meetings where they may have considerable local historical expertise, is a very backward step.

“I think the effect of what the borough council has done is that parish councils will ask for their own meetings with developers, and the borough officers will have to decide whether they wish to attend our meetings as well as their own, possibly doubling their workload."


Clare Lake gets a spring clean

EIGHTEEN volunteers from East Malling and the local Community Warden unit joined forces to spruce up the Clare Lake banks and Blacklands path in East Malling on Saturday, March 4th, 2017.

The volunteers cleared litter, and half a skip full of concrete pieces from a demolished fence. They also cut back brambles and grasses from a long-concealed ragstone wall. The wall then provided a comfy bench for a well-earned cup of home-made soup to celebrate the day.

The event was organised by East Malling and Larkfield Parish Councillor Michelle Tatton, who said: “We collected 16 bags of litter, half a skip of concrete and a small mountain of ivy and brambles. Clearing out the wall has made a huge difference to this path. I think the guys enjoyed bashing the concrete to bits but it was heavy work made so much easier by the large number of people who helped, from as far away as Maidstone.

“Special thanks go to the Roud family for providing the soup, and Gary Haffenden who dropped off a skip literally at an hour’s notice, to enable the clearance of the concrete.”

Cllr Trudy Dean, chairman of the Clare Lake Steering Group, thanked the volunteers and invited them back for the following Saturday, March 11, when Larkfield Explorer Group were helping to plant 600 hedging plants donated by Conservation Trust Volunteers and Kent Men of the Trees. They will provide berried plants for the birds and a pleasant green backdrop to the lake.

 


Cutlery gift will help patients

Cllr Trudy Dean, Liberal Democrat Kent County Councillor for Malling Central, visited Heart of Kent Hospice at Aylesford, following funding from her KCC member’s grant, where she was delighted to meet with the chief executive, Sarah Pugh and some of her colleagues.

The grant of £1,246 was given specifically to buy equipment for the hospice which would help people with terminal illnesses to remain active and independent at home for as long as possible.

Cllr Dean learnt how new exercise equipment would help people whose illnesses had caused them to lose mobility. Through supervised exercise sessions at the hospice, patients could rebuild muscle tone so they could once again climb their stairs at home, or go out to meet friends without assistance.

The grant also funded a Kings Assessment Kit which, with over 30 modular pieces of cutlery and handles, enables nursing staff to assess the needs of each patient so they can find the most practical and comfortable way of eating unaided.

Cllr Dean pledged to do as much as she could to help raise awareness of the hospice’s need to raise an additional £600,000 to help secure its long-term future for the people of this community. 

 


Kent County Council Election Timetable - Register to Vote, Postal Vote and more!

With the Kent County Council elections approaching on May 2nd. If you live in Tonbridge and Malling and require help please ring Tonbridge and Malling Electoral Services on the Electoral Registration helpline 01732 844522.

Wednesday, 17 April

  • Last day to register to vote
  • Last day to apply for a new postal vote (5pm)
  • Last day to amend / cancel an existing postal or proxy vote arrangement (5pm)

Wednesday, 24 April

  • Last day to apply for a new proxy vote (5pm) - except for medical emergencies
  • Last day for publication of Notice of Poll

Thursday, 25 April

  • Last day for notification of appointment of polling and counting agents
  • Publication of notice of alterations to electoral register for use in this election

Friday, 26 April

  • First day on which electors can request replacements for lost postal votes

Thursday, 2 May

  • Polling Day: Poll stations open 7am - 10pm
  • Deadline for issuing replacement postal ballot papers (5pm)
  • Deadline for applying for a proxy vote on grounds of medical emergency (5pm)
  • Deadline for correcting electoral register due to clerical error or court appeal (9pm)

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