One aim: to make a dif­fere

This week is Lo­cal News­pa­per Week, which aims to high­light the vit by re­gional news­pa­pers in the com­mu­nity. Be­low are some of the wa Ken­tish Ex­press has made a dif­fer­ence over the last year, along with about the value of lo­cal news­pa­pers to read­ers and ad

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - KE FUN CLUB -

Cam­paign­ing on the is­sues that mat­ter to you 1. Last Oc­to­ber, we re­vealed Kent County Coun­cil had agreed to sell the 70-year-old farm at Ash­ford’s North School to hous­ing de­vel­op­ers. In De­cem­ber, we pre­sented a 2,000-name pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the sale. A fi­nal de­ci­sion has yet to be taken. 2. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing sev­eral read­ers’ let­ters about im­proved traf­fic flows dur­ing road­works at the M20 junc­tion 10 round­about, we launched a cam­paign for the High­ways Agency to re­view its use of traf­fic lights. More than 1,000 peo­ple have signed our pe­ti­tion. 3. We helped launch French teacher Edith Rob­son’s cam­paign against plans by Eurostar to cut con­ti­nen­tal services to and from Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional. Mrs Rob­son has col­lected more than 8,000 sig­na­tures on her pe­ti­tion. Help­ing hand 6. Peo­ple power came to the aid of the Mary Webb Cancer Ap­peal, sup­ported by the Ken­tish Ex­press, which raised more than £50,000 to buy two scan­ners to speed up di­ag­no­sis for cancer patients at the Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal. This in­cluded £20,000 raised by an ab­seil at Ash­ford’s Char­ter House. 7. Vol­un­teers raised more than £17,000 for the Pil­grims Hospice and the Kent Walk­ing Bus by tak­ing part in a zip wire chal­lenge at Folke­stone Race­course last month. 8. The Ken­tish Ex­press Big Quiz, held at the Stour Cen­tre in Novem­ber, raised thou­sands of pounds for the League of Friends at the Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal, the Mary Webb Cancer Ap­peal and the Kent Walk­ing Bus. 4. The mis­ery caused to mo­torists in the area by Op­er­a­tion Stack on the M20 led to the launch of our Stop Stack cam­paign this year. Hun­dreds have so far signed our pe­ti­tion. 5. Hun­dreds of read­ers got in touch af­ter re­ceiv­ing park­ing tick­ets when the Lidl car park, then man­aged by City Park­ing En­force­ment, went from of­fer­ing two hours’ free park­ing to of­fer­ing just one hour without clear no­tice. Af­ter con­tact­ing the com­pany, we man­aged to get read­ers’ tick­ets re­funded. 9. For the last two years the Ken­tish Ex­press has joined forces with the Ash­ford branch of the Sal­va­tion Army to help with the char­ity’s Car­ing for Christ­mas cam­paign. Both years, read­ers have flocked to our of­fices with bags burst­ing with gifts and food. 10. Read­ers were moved when we told the story of 11- year-old Char­lotte Whale, from Great Chart, who needed to raise £15,000 for an op­er­a­tion abroad which would hope­fully help her walk for the first time. Read­ers raised the cash in less than a year, and Char­lotte ex­pects to travel to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic for treat­ment this sum­mer. 11. More than 100 peo­ple vol­un­teered for an ab­seil in aid of cancer char­ity CLIC Sar­gent, which takes place at Char­ter House on Satur­day (May 12), fol­low­ing an ap­peal in the Ex­press. Sup­port­ing the com­mu­nity 12. Pop­u­lar fort­nightly mu­sic event Ash­ford Rocks faced clo­sure af­ter un­der-16s not ac­com­pa­nied by an adult were banned from the venue be­cause it is a li­censed premises. A week af­ter our re­port, a com­pro­mise was reached be­tween the organisers, the venue’s own­ers and Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil. 13. We have backed the Equa­tor mu­sic project, which aims to bring mu­si­cians from all over the world to play in Ash­ford, with pre­views and cov­er­age of the con­certs. 14. The Ken­tish Ex­press was in­stru­men­tal in set­ting up the KM Walk­ing Bus Project, which teaches chil­dren about road safety and helps cut school run traf­fic. Last year, the num­ber of school run car jour­neys in Kent was re­duced by 95,000 thanks to walk­ing buses. 15. The lat­est walk-to-school ini­tia­tive launched with the sup­port of the Ken­tish Ex­press is the Green Foot­steps Chal­lenge for pri­mary schools. Classes in­volved take part in ac­tiv­i­ties based around Kent land­marks and at­trac­tions.

16. En­tries to the Miss Ash­ford con­test were boosted by an ap­peal in the Ken­tish Ex­press and we also sup­port the town’s an­nual car­ni­val. 17. We sup­ported Ash­ford Fair­trade Fort­night, high­light­ing the im­por­tance of sup­port­ing farm­ers in the area as well as small-scale pro­duc­ers in the Third World. Re­ward­ing achieve­ment 18. We fea­tured the story of post­man Pete Wil­liams, who lives in Tow­ers View, Ken­ning­ton, who res­cued an el­derly man from a burn­ing build­ing while on his rounds. He has since been nom­i­nated for a brav­ery award by the Royal Mail. 19. The Ken­tish Ex­press sup­ports the Ash­ford and Shep­way Try An­gle Awards, which recog­nise the achieve­ments of young­sters in the area. 20. We recog­nise the spe­cial role of teach­ers through the an­nual Kent Teacher of the Year Awards. 21. We teamed up with Kent Po­lice to run the an­nual Re­spect Awards, re­ward­ing young peo­ple who have worked hard to make a dif­fer­ence in their com­mu­ni­ties. Keep­ing you in­formed

We carry a weekly Ring Road Watch to keep read­ers up-to-date on the work to trans­form Ash­ford’s ring road. 23. Since plans were an­nounced for the multi-mil­lion-pound re­gen­er­a­tion of Stan­hope, we have re­ported the views of peo­ple liv­ing on the es­tate and kept read­ers up-to-date with the lat­est news. 24. Each year we raise thou­sands of pounds for hos­pices in Kent through the KM Group/Shep­herd Neame Kent Re­veal­ing the truth Us­ing the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion we have re­ported: 26. How county coun­cil­lors spent of thou­sands of pounds on trips abro 27. How the South East Eng­land Devel­op­ment Agency (SEEDA), a govern­ment quango, spent £10 mil­lion buy­ing In­ter­na­tional House, an of­fice block in Ash­ford, only for most of lie empty. Char­ity Walk, now in 12th year. year’s walk takes place on Sun­day May 20 at Port Lympne Wild An­i­mal Park. See the en­try form on this page 25. Our cov­er­age of Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil meet­ings al­lows vot­ers to see what de­ci­sions their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives are mak­ing on ma­jor is­sues, such as the de­layed re­mod­ellin of Ash­ford’s Stour Cen­tre. 28. How Op­er­a­tion Stack was cost­ing Kent Po­lice thou­sands of pounds over­time that it had not bud­geted 29. The num­ber of chil­dren pass­ing 11-plus at each of the county’s pri­mar schools. 30. Why plans for the orig­i­nal mul­ti­mil­lion-pound Turner Cen­tre in

6 – Sis­ter Caro­line Sun­der­land and nurses Fiona Ma­hon, Sue Drake­ley, Hi­lary Zu­rakovs and Sally Stear, from the Celia Blakey Unit at Ash­ford’s Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal, cel­e­brate as the Mary Webb Cancer Ap­peal reaches its £50,000 tar­get

10 – Read­ers raised £15,000 for an op­er­a­tion for Char­lotte Whale, 11

8 – The Lion­heart team from last year’s Ken­tish Ex­press Big Quiz, which raised thou­sands of pounds for char­ity

1 – North School man­ager Nick Fysh

18 – Post­man Pete Wil­liams, who res­cued an el­derly man from a smoke-filled build­ing

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