window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date());gtag('config', 'G-4J7CECC45W');Maidstone BC - Councillor Patrik Garten's latest newsletter - 24th October 2023 | Hollingbourne Parish Council
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Maidstone BC – Councillor Patrik Garten’s latest newsletter – 24th October 2023

Cllr Patrik Garten 1

Recently I was asked what my greatest community achievement was so far as a North Downs Councillor.  I must confess that my answers referred to ancillary activities, something which I became aware of in my function as your councillor but which has little to do with me being your representative at Maidstone Council.

In September 2020, I received an email, introducing me to the newly formed Kent Downs Line Community Rail Partnership (KDLCRP), which runs from Ashford to Otford and includes Hollingbourne railway station.  I was asked for my input on potential projects and longer term shared ambitions for the rail line and its stations. 

Community Rail Partnerships seek to enrich the communities along the railway lines they adopt, helping to support tourism in the areas they serve, sprucing up stations with gardens, helping vulnerable groups and arranging fun events such as Santa trains, walks and cycle rides etc. 

So I toddled along to the KDLCRP meeting in October 2020, not knowing what I let myself in for. 

Asked about my ideas for Hollingbourne Station, I remembered that the Parish Council and I were briefly flying a kite in 2017 when Christopher’s shop was rumoured to close for the first time.  At the time we speculated whether the station could be used as a shop.  Well, in 2017 the shop did not close and the idea was quickly kicked in the tall grass.  Even in 2020 Hollingbourne was still fortunate enough to have an ongoing village shop. 

Anyway, I presented a vision to the meeting that Hollingbourne Station could be used as a community centre, coffee shop and / or village shop.  The KDLCRP was excited by my imaginative ideas and at the next meeting I was invited to present a formal proposal.  I had no idea whether this would lead to anything, but I knew the people of Hollingbourne and that, given the chance, the community would grab the chance.

By March 2021 my proposal received enough votes from the CRP to go forward.  Remember, these were the times of Covid and things moved rather slowly.  It took until the 5th of August 2021 until an invited group of community members and Parish Councillors had the chance to inspect the dark hole of a derelict building from the inside.  What a sight it was!  The sun was shining brightly outside but inside it was dark like a cave.  We had too use torches.  No ceiling and rotten floors with major holes.  But the invited community members were excited and we all developed visions of a community centre / coffee shop.

Soon after, a local volunteer-structural-surveyor kindly provided us with an estimate of no less than £85,000 to put the station into any functional state.  The story could well have ended there, but Maria Domican and I persevered with the support of the KDLCRP, and in early 2022 we struck lucky when South Eastern Railway found some unused money under a mattress and agreed to refurbish the building for the community.  The final cost was in the region of £150,000.

As you know, we had a soft launch early in January this year.  A Community Interest Company was formed and it took most of 2023 to sort the essentials like fire surveys, getting a bank account and insurance, formalising a peppercorn lease etc, et,c but for the past weeks things are starting to happen….the café opens regularly, villagers, train travellers, dog walkers and a bee keeper from Stockbury have so far dropped in.  Cinema events are planned and a Christmas Fayre too.

Throughout 2023 the steering group has been working hard and more volunteers are needed now.

Like all community projects, the message for success is USE IT OR LOOSE IT !

North Downs Communities are fabulous folk who can make community projects work where others fail.  The Harrow community pub in Stockbury is another shining example.  To my sins, my input was much less there, although I helped to lay a substantial bit of the turf in the beer garden.   Please remember, the Harrow & other local businesses are struggling due to the ongoing works at Junction 5 M2.  Therefore a reminder that Stockbury is open for business!  Please spread the news and use our community assets yourself.

In the meantime…

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has awarded the first phase of the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) to four communities across the borough.

Hollingbourne Parish Council will receive a total of £39,372 to upgrade the Cardwell Pavilion, which was built over 40 years ago.  This award will make another positive difference to our community.

Fourayes Farm

I hear that Puratos Fourayes plan a public engagement event on the 14th November to be held at The Black Horse PH, Pilgrim’s Way, Thurnham, ME14 3LD, in The Pilgrim’s Suite.  It is planned as a drop in format over a period of 2 x 2 hour sessions, the first being 2pm – 4pm, and the second being 5pm – 7pm.  Puratos Fourayes want to explain their current planning application and their long term strategy: “We want to demystify what we have planned for the site and instill confidence in the community that we aren’t planning on building a ‘supersite’.”

Whether we support their plans or not, I urge you to attend and voice your concerns.

And finally:

Kent County Council has confirmed that they are planning to use ANPR cameras to get tough on motorists who travel through Maidstone’s pedestrianised area.

Private vehicles entering “bus-gate” lane in King Street, heading onto the High Street, will be the first to get a fine.

In spring 2022 KCC held a public consultation about possible sites where to use ANPR cameras for traffic enforcement.  Although Maidstone’s High Street was not included in this first tranche of sites, I urged KCC at the time to have a look at Maidstone’s Pedestrian Area.

I reiterated this request to KCC and the Police at a multi agency Town Centre Sub Group Meeting in August this year.

Subsequently, the Police conducted a few enforcement sessions and stopped unauthorised drivers.  A few weeks later, at the Joint Transportation Board, a joint committee of KCC and MBC Councillors, I petitioned to have ANPR Enforcement in the High Street included in their work programme, which was accepted by unanimous vote.


Although buses, taxis and disabled drivers are rightfully exempt to traverse King Street and High Street, many non-exempt motorists flagrantly ignore the prohibition and use it as short cut while driving at inappropriate speeds.  Pedestrians neither have a feeling of comfort nor safety, which they ought to expect in a pedestrianised zone and all too often prohibited drivers instill fear in pedestrians or even cause collisions with them.



MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward  (Conservative)

Cabinet Member for Environmental Services


Phone: 01622-807907