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Councillor’s Newsletter – Patrik Garten, Road Closure updates


Fresh off the press:

The Boundary commission published its final report this morning.

Its findings are very disappointing, as they did not take heed of my concerns for the effective representation of voters in the sparsely populated areas vs. the urban service centres. In doing so, the Commission ignored a recommendation, which was put forward by Full Council vote.

The Commission did not deviate from their initial proposals to join North Downs with Harrietsham & Lenham to form a super-ward.  However, they now cut Stockbury from the North Downs ward and attached it to a revised Boxley Downs ward.

Their latest report is final and will be laid before Parliament.

Biggest issue this month:  (some long awaited good news)

The road closure at the Dirty Habit in Hollingbourne

Road-closures, as any highways matter, fall into the remit of Kent County Council. As such, you should raise your concerns with our County Councillor Shellina Prendergast. Before I deny all responsibility in this matter I must also acknowledge that Maidstone Borough has a role to play in this. The Dirty Habit is a listed building and, even in its current state, is protected by very strict national legislation. As such MBC Conservation Officers have been consulted as well as Maidstone’s Building Control department. Maidstone’s role is to ensure that legislation regarding the heritage status is complied with as well as to ensure that the public is adequately protected. The latter includes construction workers as well as passers-by.

Ultimately MBC acts in an advisory role but also carries the final responsibility to sign off any project as safe and compliant. It is The Dirty Habit’s architects and site engineers who will take the leading role to propose and execute the most appropriate way to recover and reconstruct the building.

The works commenced last week for the gradual partial demolition of the part of the building that has been most severely damaged by the fire. This needs to be undertaken by hand due to the building being listed and to protect the adjoining Grade II* building. There was a slight delay in the commencement of these works due to the delay of the Insurance Loss Adjuster signing off on the works. It is planned that the demolition and forensic works will be completed within the next two weeks, and then the shoring scaffold (which is blocking the road) can be removed. In all, it is hoped that the road will be open within the next three weeks.

I sympathise with the plight of and inconvenience to all communities north of the Dirty Habit and for those residents who are affected daily by the closure. It is difficult to see a positive angle to this dilemma. However, for what it’s worth, the road-closure gives Hollingbourne temporary relief from the ever-increasing through-traffic. Let’s hope that it may even discourage many from rat-running long after this road is opened again. The worn-out back-roads, which will be entirely ruined by then, won’t make the North Downs any more attractive to rat-runners either.

Terrible Water Pressure

Residents in the East of my ward may welcome that South East Water are currently planning a project to lay 17km of pipeline to enhance network resilience. They will be laying 13km of pipeline between their storage reservoirs in Warren Street and Potters Corner, and two pipes, totalling 4km, will be laid in the Wichling and Doddington areas of Kent. This project is currently in the planning phase, with construction anticipated to begin in April 2023. A test drill will be carried out before Christmas to aid planning.

Design and Sustainability Consultation

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is consulting on the development of a Design and Sustainability Development Plan Document and is encouraging residents, businesses and stakeholders to have their say, to help embed good design and sustainability within new development.

In an ideal world this should be an essential part of Maidstone’s Local Plan. Unfortunately time pressures imposed on us by national legislation didn’t allow us to incorporate this ‘nice’ bit. So while the forthcoming Local Plan deals with location and numbers of new homes to be built, this Sustainability Development Plan will make sure that we will have the tools to ensure that best design quality and high sustainability lie at the heart of all forthcoming development proposals. This Policy, once implemented, will have the same strength whether it forms an integral part of the Local Plan or is a stand-alone policy. Together with my colleagues I worked hard over the past two years to bring this plan forward.

The consultation closes on 12 December 2022 and can be found here:

Council Tax referendum limit

The Chancellor announced that the core threshold for council tax will increase from 1.99% to 2.99%, and the Adult Social Care precept payable to KCC will be 2% in 2023–24.

So will we increase the council tax at MBC? This depends on your point of view. If your council tax is £1000 this year, then a 2.99% increase brings your tax to £1029.90 next year. If the tax you paid last year bought £1000 of services and inflation stands at 11%, we would require £1110 this year to provide the same services. So one could argue that a Local Authority actually cuts council tax when the increase is lower than inflation.

This is VERY different to Income Tax and National Insurance, where the government always takes the same percentage of your money, regardless how much your money is worth. An increase of income tax percentage points are always an increase of the burden of taxation, an increase of council tax percentage points is not.

Some food for thought…..


There are some encouraging news in that the number of recorded cases in Kent has continued to decrease but at a much slower rate than in September. Since 31st October, rates have decreased by 14.4%. The number of covid patients in hospital has reduced too. We would be foolish however to let our guard down. Weekly deaths seem to be on a slightly upward trend, the highest since July.

Variants data also shows that significant cases of Omicron spinoffs have been detected in Kent, which has been noted for its rapid growth. On a positive side, no new variants of concern have emerged so far. Let’s hope that it stays this way and that we can all enjoy a Christmas not tarnished by Covid. We are all responsible not only for our own health but for everybody’s with whom we come into contact.

And finally…

This year’s Christmas light switch-on was very well attended. For the next weeks Maidstone Town Centre is illuminated to herald in the Christmas season. In the following weeks there will be a multitude of events, filled with family fun, to put us into Christmas mood:


MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward  (Conservative)

Phone: 01622-807907