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LATEST: Troubled Bearsted Parish Council could do better, says newest member

Thursday 25th November 2021

TROUBLED Bearsted Parish Council's newest recruit enters the authority with the message to his fellow members: "There is room for improvement."

Cllr Graham Norton made his remarks after months of controversy engulfing BPC's proposals for the allotments site in the village.

Retired town planner Cllr Norton, of Ashford Road, Bearsted, is himself a former BPC chairman. He was elected unopposed to the BPC.

Asked if BPC is well-run, he replied: "I was chairman back in 2000 and it was well-run then.

"What I would say, is as the council is today, there is room for improvement."

Asked to comment on Cllr Norton's observations, serving fellow member Cllr Denis Spooner said: "My personal view is that I agree with our new colleague – I feel there is room for improvement."

After a generous donation of land, BPC leaders drew up suggestions to give the tennis club extra courts and increase the size of the car park but move the gardeners' plots to a new location nearby. It was codenamed 'Project A'.

Allotment holders feel they were excluded from the planning process and fear decades of hard work will be undone.

Cllr Norton (69) said: "I've not had the chance to see all the information about Project A or get to know all the background to it.

"But It does seem to be a project which is very controversial."

He said that under his chairmanship, the council was able to introduce a successful traffic scheme around The Green and lay bollards to prevent car parking on it.

BPC was also able to stop two way driving on the slip road in front of the chemists off the A20.

Downs Mail understands the BPC chairman met with a senior member of Maidstone Borough Council's planning team for advice.

BPC maintains there are no foregone conclusions in the process for the disposal of the land.

Holy Cross Church vicar, Canon John Corbyn, recently warned that the allotments' issue was in danger of dividing the community.