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Maidstone BC – Councillor Patrik Garten’s Newsletter – 24th January 2024

Cllr Patrik Garten 1

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has been informed by the independent Inspector that he wishes to undertake a final consultation on the Local Plan Review.

The Council understands that this consultation is focused on the published Infrastructure Delivery Plan update, Integrated Transport Strategy update and Viability Assessment update.  In addition, there will be concluding evidence around the M2 junction 3 infrastructure.

This consultation can be found here: https://localplan.maidstone.gov.uk/home/local-plan-review-examination

The Local Plan is a carrot and stick instrument.  Central Government tells us how many houses need to be built and we choose the least detrimental site for it.  In return, if we fulfil our annual quota of house-building, we are granted protection from unplanned development.

Many of our neighbouring authorities fail to timely review their local plan and subsequently end up without one.  This equates to a developer’s charter in that there will be no legal instrument which gives the local council an authority to stop unplanned development.

If the inspector concludes his consultation on time, MBC may be able to ratify the Local Plan in April.  This falls right into the election campaign.  God only knows what exercises of grandstanding opposition parties may undertake to blind voters with an anti development agenda.

Any party or candidate, who campaigns to vote against the Local Plan in order to fight development, will do exactly the opposite.  Without a Local Plan the legal floodgates will become wide open for the concrete mixers.

Last Year…..

…., thanks to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, MBC brought a wide range of events to the County Town.  Audiences enjoyed everything from free concerts, parades, an arts carnival and the very first Literary Festival.

In addition, MBC supported the annual Maidstone River Festival, the Thai Festival, Maidstone Fringe and has provided Creative Community Grants to 30 groups so far.  Here is a short video snapshot of all the amazing things that have been happening in Maidstone in 2023.  It is great to see so many people coming here to enjoy some fantastic events which are all so different and have helped bring the town centre to life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUr3aK-GLDM&t=7s.

Let’s get ready for another festive year: 2024.

 

Councils across England are facing bankruptcy…

… due to poor financial management, according to the Office for Local Government (Oflog)

A survey from the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that 17% of council leaders and chief executives believe that their chief finance officers are likely to issue a Section 114 notice in the next financial year.  S.114 is the local authority’s equivalent to declare itself bankrupt.  Issuance of a S.114 notice will be halting all non-essential spending. Almost half in number of councils are concerned that they will not be able to ensure the delivery of essential services in 2024/25, with more than 60 councils at risk of issuing Section 114 notices.

Oflog’s chair, Lord Morse, said that all councils in special measures had failures in governance that were primarily responsible for their budget shortfalls.  He also told councils to be “realistic” about the amount of financial support they can get from the Government. Lord Morse said: “All of the failures that we’ve seen so far; are not primarily attributable to a shortage of money – they’re to do with failures in management or failures in governance.  I really can say that quite definitely.”

 

No increase of parking charges

Well, it would be outrageously ridiculous to claim that Maidstone is rolling in money. However, under the current Conservative Administration there won’t be a S114 notice at MBC.  Even better, there won’t be an increase of parking fees either.  MBC’s Cabinet is very clear that we must support the businesses in Maidstone.  An effective way to do so is to freeze parking charges.  Maidstone’s Town Centre has to remain accessible and affordable.  It may be fashionable to promote walking and biking but the majority of Maidstone’s shoppers and visitors come by car.  For some it may be a preference, for us residents of the rural North Downs it is unfortunately a necessity.

 

Waste Crime

We just agreed £40,000 funding in capital investment to equip Maidstone’s Waste Crime Team with appropriate tools to catch and fine fly-tippers.  A large proportion of fly-tippers are commercial rogue operations.  Residents are reminded to be diligent when disposing of waste or requesting someone to remove the waste for them.  If you employ a waste removals company you have a legal duty of care to ensure that your waste is disposed of correctly, by a contractor who is a registered waste carrier.
https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers

Any waste contractor must supply their customers with a waste transfer note, which looks like this:   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a7d875be5274a676d532987/LIT_7932.pdf

Waste collection contractors form

 

If your neighbours have any building works, do some DIY, have house or garden clearances being undertaken, please remind them of their responsibilities.  Fines are quite stiff for employing rogue waste removal operators.  The last thing you want to happen is the Waste Crime Team knocking on your or your friends’ door and issuing a £500 fine.

 

0% interest loans

There has rarely been a better time to start or expand a business.  Interest free loans are available between £26,000-£600,000 to support your business in Maidstone.  To date, the scheme has supported the creation and protection of over 210 jobs.  Over 20 SMEs in Maidstone have already benefited from this scheme.

Eligibility includes:

– Viable businesses not in financial difficulty
– Businesses that can provide 20% to 30% match funding
– Businesses with fewer than 250 employees
– Businesses seeking to protect or create jobs

for further information contact: GetStarted@Maidstone.gov.uk

 

Stockbury

You may be aware that business in the village of Stockbury suffered disproportionately over the past year due to the motorway works at the A249.

Although things were beginning to look less bleak for the pub, we now have no chef.

If you can spread the word to your network that we are looking for a chef/cook, full or part time, permanent or even temporary that would be most helpful!

 

And hot of the press…

The Hazlit Theatre Summer Tour will come to Stockbury on the 25th August at 18:00 performing ‘The Three Musketeers’.  More details to follow in due course.  Please reserve the date, to make this show a great success.  My Boxley colleague Cllr Hinder and I worked hard with the Theatre to bring their performance to our distant rural areas.

 

Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter

MCWS first opened its doors in December 2013 with the aim of supporting the many people in need of shelter and help in our town over the coldest winter months.

January normally brings people’s attentions to the year ahead, picking up a bargain in the sales or de-cluttering your wardrobe in readiness for the long- anticipated summer holiday. So why not drop off your pre-loved items to MCWS?  They always require outer garments for their Day Centre guests.

If you’d like to be involved, make a donation or have any wonderful ideas to help them during 2024, please get in contact at newsletter@homelesscare.org.uk

If you are in need of a food parcel, please call them on 01622 674064.

 

 

 

PATRIK GARTEN   

MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward  (Conservative)

Cabinet Member for Environmental Services

 

Phone: 01622-807907