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Maidstone & Malling’s No. 1 newspaper

Maidstone East Edition


& Fortnightly No.Maidstone 246 & Malling’s No. 1 newspaper News

October 2017

Panto ahoy!

October 7th – October 20th

THE cast of Cinderella, which is to be staged at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone, took to the River Medway to launch this year's panto.

Hazlitt Theatre’s panto bounce-back - p8 On board The Kentish Lady were national treasure Rustie Lee (Fairy Godmother), former EastEnder Stefan Booth (Prince Charming), Elizabeth Bright (Cinderella), Craig Anderson (Buttons) and, pictured, Stephen Richards and Adam Borzone (Ugly Sisters) . They were greeted by pupils from South Borough Primary School and members of the media. The panto runs from December 1-31. For tickets go to


01622 690290

23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

MP’s Plan bid Ivy’s Local centenary joy

à3 Plans for Dr Nigel Lib Demof GP pest jailed THE widow Dr Nigel Minnet round the world.

CALLS for the installation of CCTV cameras to prevent fly-tipping on a THE newly-elected Conservatives Maidstone Council were country road have been made by theatlocal boroughBorough councillor. facing defeat over plans for housing numbers in the borough. Burberry Lane, near Leeds and nearby, more than a year after it unlicensed waste carriers, but bewas dumped on fire. were blocked. If theand LPRset opponents The church park has also seen victorious, thecarcouncil leadership manybe instances dumping. may forced of to illegal go back to the But it is a problem in many rural drawing board. areas including Langley, Otham Around 100 protestors, mostly and Kingswood. Water Lane in from the and Lidsing area, Way protested Bearsted Pilgrims have outside thetargeted town hall on October 4, also been recently. ahead the Strategic Planning and Lastofyear, Maidstone Borough Infrastructure (SPI) Council cleared 911committee. cases of fly-tipDeputy leader Purle ping and this yearJonathan more than 163 said: Dems were in charge have "The beenLib recorded since April. The approaching darkerand evenings when it was developed when willpreferred prompt a approaches rise in illegalwere tipping. the deCllr Fort welcomed a joint initiaveloped." tive by the Agency Some Lib Environment Dems feel the LPR and thenot Driver Vehicle Stanwould standand up to scrutiny by dards Agency to clamp down on the Secretary of State, who presides

KATE Hart, a resident at an old people’s home in Bearsted, has died aged 107, her son 3 News David has disclosed.

HELEN Whately asked the AN appeal to make Ivy Watson’s government to halt the 100th birthday extra-special had 4 borough’s housing unexpected resultsscheme. from all

CCTV call in a bid to stop fly-tipping Tories face homes revolt Broomfield, has went been to targeted by As Downs Mail press, the wastePlan dumpers for (LPR) years, was but in reLocal Review due cent months, the problem has bebefore full council, with “garden come more acute. villages” Lidsing (2,000 units) and Construction waste, rubble, hard Lenham (5,000) at itshousehold core. core, windows and furIf, as iswas threestrewn Boxniture leftanticipated, illegally – often ley Tories votedoftothe oppose in the middle road.the LidsingCllr proposal, thesaid: LPR“Every might month fail at Gill Fort its wemost are crucial havingstage. toilets, sinks and Presently, the LPR satisfiesinanconstruction waste dumped the nual Government targets of 1,200 village, specifically in Burberry Lane, where we are now thinking homes in the borough per year. ofBut installing cameras on private with time limitations on the land, to oversee the problem area.” process, Tories warn the council A recent in Burberry could lose itsevent planning powers Lane and saw aacaravan burned out whileofa allow free-for-all by developers torched car remains on a footpath up to 40,000 units if the plan is

No. 107, 304 dies Kate,

lieves thenext cost to small firms ofprodisover the stage. The LPR posing construction a ceeded of through SPI sixwaste votesatto transfer station is proving a deterthree. Two Maidstone leisure cenrent that is costing councils more. tres and two large garden villages Cllr Fort made her remarks as are among key features in the plan. one of the borough’s closest transThe Mote Park refer stations at facility North would Farm, be Tunplaced and a second built elsewhere bridge Wells, announced it will be to meetfor population closed 10 weeks.demand. The added: 29 new “If sitesyou selected for resiShe go along the dential development line of increasing fines,following they havethe to council’s public for sites’ be enforced. A ‘call reduction ininvithe tation are free may have charge or offering theThe desired similar effect.” a plancouncil is to produce A three-monthly pick on ning document for litter the future of the Inmile-long stretch of road through victa Barracks, which will be Leeds village produces average vacated by the Army inan 2027, and 32 black offrom rubbish. wants to sacks protect new developCllr Fort, whoofalso as a ment the line theserves proposed parish councillor, saysfor teaching Leeds/Langley bypass up to children about social responsibility 4,000 houses to fund the new road. and the issue of litter in schools will Other transport needs inhelp takekey the issue off the streets. clude a new railway station for She believes with every household Lenham plus shuttle buscollection services receiving a weekly refuse and a fourth arm the for M2litter (J4) service, there is no for excuse with a thrown bridge over the vehicles M2 serving being from or the new Lidsing village. dumped in the road. Continued on pages 16-17

will walk thebudding Grand Liberal A FORMER 12 Canyon forpolitician charity. has been Democrat jailed for harassing a female police officer. à4

Jason Donovan date THE former Neighbours star brings Mosque opens his show to the Hazlitt 18 Theatre next mosque MAIDSTONE’S has opened to more than 2,000 woshippers.


Hunting heroes A GRANDFATHER is hunting down good Samaritans, one a taxi driver, who helped him when he collapsed in the town centre after sudddenly beà10 coming ill.

à25 Obituaries 32 Obituaries à29 Parishes Parish Councils 34-35 ASH dieback has been discovered in à37-39 Comment Monks Meadow in Detling; Hollingbourne village fete stallholder Jean Duffy has Biffaco-ordinator says sorry resigned; yellow lines are needed WASTE collector Biffa apolofor Buffkyn Way, Otham, to allow gised through for noisyImperial private collecbuses Park; rubtionsbins taking bish in place the sports field in before dawn. 12 Kingswood are to be movedà over to the picnic area and rear exit.

BrownReports loses appeal 35 Crime

VIOLENT Shepway man David VEHICLES been driven Brown is tohave be sentenced laterover farmland this year forinanLenham, assault causing damge to crops; an attempted à19 after losing an appeal. break-in was reported in Detling; a vehicle was vandalised in Bearsted Rd, Weavering; pumpkins were Police duo award stolen from allotment A POLICE dog an handler and her in Lenham. canine partner have been awarded a special accolade for

46-47 Comment saving a mann who was trying to kill himself.


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Ivy gets 700 cards to mark 100th birthday AN appeal to make a woman's 100th birthday party extra special led to her being sent more than 700 cards. Barty House Nursing Home initially put out the appeal to surprise resident Ivy Watson with 100 birthday cards fon September 28. But she ended up receiving a total of 723 cards – some all the way from Australia, America, and the Highlands of Scotland. Local schools and nurseries also sent Ivy cards and gifts to Ivy, including pupils at Oaks Primary Academy, who sent in 100. Laura Tierney, the Bearsted home’s head of activities, said: “We’d like to say a big thank you to Downs Mail readers for their fantastic response to our appeal. “Ivy had a wonderful day and a magical party. She was our queen for the day, and this couldn’t have been done without the kindness of each and every one of you.


Fire injuries

THREE people were injured in a fire caused by an out-of-control bonfire which spread to other properties near Maidstone. Two casualties were treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation and another for minor burns on September 18. Kent Fire and Rescue Service sent three crews to Ashford Road, Lenham, after flames from a blaze spread to a large hedgerow, two properties and two outbuildings. A KFRS spokesman said: "When having a bonfire, keep it small and away from fences and property. "Have a hosepipe or bucket of water to hand in case it starts to spread, and always call 999 in an emergency."

Driver banned “It was the proudest moment of my career. I may have cried once, twice, maybe three times. This is a day she will never forget.” Ivy, who has few relatives and is now bed-restricted, was wheeled into the home’s lounge for her very special birthday celebration, fea-

turing local musician Rick Stills. Staff said Ivy was so bowled over by all the cards, balloons, and gifts. She asked: “Are you sure these are all for me?” All the cards now line the hallway and corridors of the home, as well as the walls of Ivy’s room.

A MAIDSTONE man has been banned from driving after getting behind the wheel drunk and without a licence. Sorin Mihalache (32) of Wheeler Street, admitted drink-driving on August 7. A breath test showed 75mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg. He was disqualified from driving for 20 months and fined £350.


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News | Mumford jailed

Police officer’s text pest jailed

A FORMER Liberal Democrat election candidate has been jailed for a harassment campaign against a female police officer – which included faking his own death, writes Jade Schopman. Tim Mumford (33), of Oxford Gardens, Maidstone, collapsed in the dock as District Judge Justin Barron told him he would spend 16 weeks in prison. As Mumford appeared to hyperventilate at Folkestone magistrates court, an ambulance was called. Minutes earlier, the court heard the florist had faked his own suicide by sending a funeral notice to PC Sophie Lowther. Mumford sent the policewoman of three years 13 text messages and emails, despite being told on numerous occasions to never contact the constable directly. PC Lowther was assigned to Mum-

Accusations ‘a pack of lies’

AT the time of the offence, Mumford was on a conditional discharge for assaulting a nurse at Maidstone Hospital. Folkestone magistrates court heard Mumford barged past the female nurse as she was treating his elderly grandmother. He then went on Facebook to call her a “scummy trollop” before posting images of severe bruising, falsely accusing the nurse of hurting his grandmother. Judge Barron said: “It was all just a pack of lies. This is one of the worst cases of malicious communications I have ever heard. “This was a calculated, manipulative, vindictive attack in the most malicious way.”

ford’s case when he was arrested for the assault of a nurse at Maidstone Hospital. Leanne James, prosecuting, said: “These messages left PC Lowther extremely distressed, all containing outrageous allegations. He had been told three separate times not to speak to her. She felt harassed and said how she feels right now is exactly how he wants me to feel – to have power and control over me.” The court heard Mumford, who was selected for the Lib Dems in May’s council elections but withdrew before polling day, had been going through a “tough time” dur-

TIMELINE OF TERROR June 14 Mumford sent a text to PC Lowther saying: “I plan to commit suicide before the court date. I have made plans on how I will be doing it.” PC Lowther replied with a list of contact details for mental health organisations. July 22 PC Lowther received an email from a new contact under Classic Flowers, this time purportedly from Mumford’s husband. It said: “I am emailing to notify Tim has sadly passed away. He saw suicide as the only way out. Tim battled depression, bipolar, police harassment, and false allegations.” The email included an image of Mumford placed on a fake order of service. The court heard PC Lowther found the email incredibly distressing and was at the point of tears all

day. She did not know he was alive until officers contacted Mumford on July 27. November 12 Mumford sent Lowther an email stating the “magistrates were on my side” and the court “went in my favour”. January 20 Mumford claimed he received £3,000 in compensation from the court case. February 16 Mumford told PC Lowther to expect to be suspended from her job. The email said: “This time a year ago you made my life hell. Now the laugh is on you. My partner died two months ago and my mum died before Christmas. I have nothing to lose. “You meet low people in life and you are one of them.” Both were found alive and Mumford was arrested.

ing the pandemic and had stopped taking his medication. The court heard Mumford has an undiagnosed personality disorder. Mumford pleaded guilty to harassment without violence and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison. A five-year restraining order was also put in place. Judge Baron said: “I see this as being in the highest category and imprisonment is the only option here. This behaviour will not be tolerated. This was more than making her upset, this was a personal attack. It was systematic and calculated.”

‘I was afraid he’d nd me’

PC SOPHIE Lowther felt anxious, sick and on edge due to the “highly intimidating” messages she received. Mumford told her she would be suspended from her job, that she was to blame for his suicide and that she made his life “hell”. The policewoman said she deleted her social media accounts and removed herself from all community groups out of fear he would track her down. The officer said she was used to people being angry at the uniform, but with Mumford it was different. A statement read out in court said: “I was conscious when out and about that he would find me. “It was a personal attack. It makes me fear for what he is capable of.”

The award­winning Downs Mail newspaper is delivered fortnightly door­to­door in selected areas, and is available to pick up from major supermarkets and local stores in the Maidstone and Malling boroughs. The papers are free to read online, as is the Daily Downs Mail news service. Find them at or scan the QR code below. We can post the newspaper to you for an annual subscription of £25 for 24 editions. For details, email or call a member of the team on 01622 630330. Editorial Editor Simon Finlay Editorial team: Online news editor Jade Schopman Chris Lawson Lindsay Roberts Obituaries Neil Nixon


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Councils’ £50m new HQ ditched CONTROVERSIAL proposals to build a £50million headquarters for two councils in Maidstone have been scrapped. Long-standing plans to develop a four-storey civic centre at the former Royal Mail sorting office, near Maidstone East railway station, will not go ahead amid pandemic pressures. The large office space would have been used by Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) and Kent County Council (KCC). It emerged that the scheme has been discounted, with other options being considered, such as housing and shops. Maidstone county and borough councillor Gary Cooke (Con) supported the decision. He said: “The pandemic has

taught us that there are better ways of using our council estate. “By working with staff who then have the option to work from home for certain days each week, we can not only save ratepayer money but it will also help to lower our carbon footprint.” The site in Sandling Road, was bought by KCC and MBC in 2016. Plans for a joint headquarters were revealed in June 2020. At the time, designs showed the HQ would include a public plaza, gym, green roof and terrace, along with a 443-space car park. Rental costs were expected to be similar for MBC in King Street, valued at around £670,000 per year, with extra for business rates and utilities.

Woodland parking agreed CONSENT for parking spaces with access to the Woodland Trust land at Bearsted has been granted. Council officers used delegated powers to allow the application which will prevent cars parking over the verge on the A20 near the entrance to Gore Cottage. Local borough councillor Denis Spooner said: "It's great news and I am all in favour of it." An orchard of 70 flowering cherry

trees is also to be created to mark the Queen's 2022 Platinum Jubilee. Two hundred smaller native species will also be planted. Trustee John Broadhurst aid: “Our intention is to bring both utility and beauty to BWT.” It is the first major planting programme at the Bearsted site since Riders Wood was created following a donation of land in 2013 by village resident Pauline Moore.

Care agency wins praise

A SNODLAND agency offering care to people in their homes has been rated "good" in two key areas of the service it offers. Direct Care was inspected by the Care Quality Commission in June and received the ratings for safety and leadership. The firm offers personal hygiene care and help with eating to 19 people. The CQC report said: "People we spoke to, and evidence reviewed, supported people had care from regular staff.

"The registered managers had completed comprehensive background checks of staff before they started work, with a fully supported induction process to ensure staff were confident to support people. "Staff received appropriate training and received regular supervisions and appraisals." In 2019, the Snodland-based agency was rated as requiring improvement in these two areas by the CQC.

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Driver banned

A DRINK driver from Staplehurst has been banned and fined after driving more than twice the limit. Paul Hay (52) of Sergison Crescent, pleaded guilty on August 25 at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court. When stopped he gave a reading of 86mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg. He was disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined £120. He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £34 and costs of £85.

Firework date

THE West Farleigh fireworks display takes place on November 5. Gates open at 6pm at Elmscroft Park in Charlton Lane. Tickets, at £10 for adults and £4.99 for children, are available from

Parish entries

THE parish register at Headcorn has recorded two weddings and a baptism in August. Tom Edwards and Rachel Room and Jack Stephenson and Emily Hann were married while SophieRae Foster was baptised.

Mosque ‘will be place for whole community’ MORE than 2,000 worshippers are overjoyed now the muchanticipated Maidstone Mosque is complete. The Mote Road building has been transformed into a multi-purpose centre for worship, including a prayer room, classrooms, mortuary, kitchen, offices, library and washing facilities. Despite the old mosque being levelled in 2018, the project has faced many delays since plans were approved over five years ago. Imam Dr Muhammad Usmani said he is determined the new facilities will serve both as a community and Islamic centre. Dr Usmani said: “We have tried to design the centre’s frontage to be sympathetic in style to existing buildings in this part of Maidstone. “The old building was not a good image for Mote Road and now I feel it fits in quite well. “We have had so much local

Imam Dr Muhammad Usmani says the long wait for the new mosque in Mote Road has been worth it support and donations. It is hard to explain how I feel but the whole community just feels overjoyed they now have somewhere to go to worship.” Kent’s first mosque mortuary, which can store two bodies for up to two days, was a “vital need” in the Islamic burial ritual. Burials must take place within a maximum of two days if possible,

according to the Islamic faith. The new mosque's open-door policy encourages visitors from Maidstone to come and see the improvements for themselves. Dr Usmani added: “With everything going on in the media, I am just pleased we have been able to achieve this, even though it was a big struggle. It has definitely been worth it.”

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MP delighted with new role

MID Kent MP Helen Whately has been moved from her job as social care minister to the Treasury in the Prime Minister's reshuffle. Mrs Whately has been appointed Exchequer Secretary, a littleknown role outside Westminster. Although well-regarded as a minister at the health department, Mrs Whately has been given a torrid time by sections of the media for "car crash" interviews, lately with the LBC radio station. Her new job involves the overseeing of regional devolution, competition policy, skills and migration, digital roll-out, corporate governance and energy infrastructure. It will involve less direct media involvement, but is seen as a launching pad for cabinet positions. Mrs Whately said on social media that she is "delighted" with her appointment. We approached her for a comment. She did not respond. Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant was overlooked for a promotion in the September reshuffle.

Driving ban

A WEST Malling man has been disqualified after getting behind the wheel drunk and on drugs. Robert Barham (39), of London Road, was sentenced on August 19 at West Kent Magistrates’ Court in Sevenoaks. He admitted driving when above the legal drink-drive limit and when unfit through drugs, in West Malling, on January 29. When stopped he gave a reading of 54mg of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg. He was disqualified from driving for 36 months and fined £120. He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £34 and costs of £85.

Music award

THE Malling School (TMS) has been recognised for its "high quality” music education. Kent Music has nominated TMS, East Malling, to become "Music Mark" school. A spokesman said: "Music Mark supports the hard work we do to ensure that pupils at our school are able to access and engage with a high-quality music education. "Being a Music Mark school gives us access to a range of specialised resources and enables us to champion music with their support. This is a fantastic opportunity for our school."


Hazlitt panto returns, and it’s staying local

THE Hazlitt Theatre has bounced back from the brink of closure and called on local talent to perform in this year’s Christmas panto. At a press launch at tourist attraction Kent Life last month, general manager Martin Cleverley said he decided against bringing in a big celebrity star to see if it affects ticket sales. Mr Cleverley added: “We made the decision and if it backfires then we will learn from it. “There were two reasons for the decision actually. Without declaring sums of money, let’s just say your panto celebrity doesn’t come cheap – even if the last thing they appeared in was an episode of ‘Allo Allo’ in 1985. “Instead, we have some returning actors and some high-quality talent from local surroundings.” Harry Revell, who will be the male lead in Jack and The Beanstalk, said he cannot wait to get back performing in front of a real crowd. The 24-year-old said: “I am returning to the Hazlitt after a fair few years. I was part of Stage

Theatre Society growing up, and they put their shows on at the Hazlitt, so the building is very familiar. I cannot thank them enough for the years of laughter, training and advice from a superb team.” Mr Cleverley said: “On Christmas Eve last year, our venue was completely empty for the first time in decades. I had to come in

that day to carry out some lowlevel maintenance. I have worked at the Hazlitt for 20 years and never was there a moment in my time as surreal as that day, walking through the vacant venue.” Jack and The Beanstalk will come to Maidstone on November 27 until January 2. o to

Stolen car was ‘back in hour’

Tom is first Bake Off flop THE Great British Bake Off returned to our screens last month but waved goodbye to a software engineer from Maidstone in the first episode. Tom Fletcher (28), described by a fellow contestant as a "true gentleman", was one of 12 bakers on the C4 show presented by Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding, but failed to wow judges Dame Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood. Tom and his family run Dream

Steam Ltd (a model railway firm) at the Quarry Wood industrial estate in Aylesford. He failed in the first challenge to make mini rolls, came fifth in the round making a malt loaf and messed up the "show stopper". Of the latter, Tom said: "Oh blimey. It's the worst bake I've ever done. That's pretty bad." When it was announced he was to leave, he said: "Absolutely, that's fair enough. Did not go to plan at all."

A BMW was returned to its rightful owners within an hour of it being reported stolen in Kings Hill, near Maidstone. The car was reported missing at around 2.30am on Monday, September 27. Patrols spotted the car leaving the slip road off the M20 and coming to a stop at traffic lights on the Swanley interchange. The patrol boxed in the stolen car and the driver was arrested. Karolis Zigas (26), of Nelson Road, Great Yarmouth, was arrested and charged with theft of a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit theft of a motor vehicle. Bail was refused and he appeared before Medway Magistrates Court on September 28.


GET BACK ONBOARD SAFELY WITH YOUR CONCESSIONARY PASS Whether you’re out and playing with the grandkids or meeting up with old friends, it’s time to get back out there and explore all the places you love safely with your concessionary bus pass. Contact your local council for eligibility information and to claim or renew your concessionary pass.



Unsafe trees to be felled

THREE lime trees at St Mary’s Church in West Malling must be felled. The trees line the footpath from the High Street to the church –two on the south side of the path, and one to the north. They were first recommended for felling back in 2019, but works were delayed due to COVID-19. The safety survey requires action to be taken within the next three months A spokesman said: “It's obviously sad news. “No one wants to see trees come down, but with so many people passing through the churchyard each day there are safety issues to manage and, at least, we can make sure new trees replace these ones lost.”

‘I’d like to say thanks to my rst aid heroes’ A MAIDSTONE grandad has made a desperate plea to track down the heroes who helped him after he collapsed in town. Robert Rowe, of Upper Road, was walking back from dropping off his car at the garage on August 2 when he fell backwards in High Street, near the old bridge. The retired print finisher (80) said two men and two women rushed over to help him. The dad of four, who was suffering from high blood pressure at the time of the incident, said: “One of the chaps called 999, but an ambulance could not be dispatched for another two hours. “Then the other man, who was a taxi driver, said he could take me to the hospital. The woman was trained in first aid and came with me.” Mr Rowe, who has lived in

Road re-opens

COOMBE Road in Maidstone will re-open on October 11. The road shut from the junction with Courtenay Road on August 23 for footway reconstruction works.

Maidstone his whole life, said he did not have time to catch the names of the people who helped him and would like to say thank you. He added: “Young people around here get quite a bad name but I wanted to highlight that there are some good ones out there and I hope this boosts them up a bit. I am very appreciative and grateful to them and would like to say a big thank you. “In a way, I see it as a blessing in disguise that this happened to me.” Mr Rowe lives alone after his wife of 54 years, Irene, passed away in August 2019 from lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you think you can help Mr Rowe trace these local heroes then email

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New centre to help children

MAIDSTONE charity Dandelion Time has opened a £500,000 therapy facility for vulnerable children. The West Farleigh body has renovated its 22-acre site and guests were taken on a tour by founder Dr Caroline Jessel and chief executive Graham Carpenter at an open day last month. Mr Carpenter said: "Since 2003, Dandelion Time has transformed the lives of over 1,000 vulnerable children and families. "Our new site will help transform the lives of many families for generations to come.”

Driving ban

A YALDING woman has been banned from driving after failing to provide a specimen for analysis. Josephine White (49), of Benover Road, was sentenced on August 6 at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court. She pleaded guilty and was disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined £300. She was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £34 and costs of £85.

Biffa ‘sorry’ for noisy pre-dawn collections A WASTE management company has apologised for noisy lorries waking up residents by carrying out contract collections before dawn. Residents say commercial pickups are regularly disturbing sleep. Biffa, which has a base in Hollingbourne and is the bin contractor for Maidstone Borough Council, has disturbed Bearsted residents in Cross Keys, Yeoman Lane and Ware Street. Gardener Andy Yates said the Biffa lorry makes "one hell of a racket" as it collects waste from the Bearsted Medical Practice near his home in Yeoman Lane. Mr Yates (48), who is pictured on the right with neighbour Gary Bashford, said: "If they changed it to 7am, then that would be fine. "Instead, we're getting woken up at some ungodly hour by the whining and crashing of the Biffa lorry. "When I raised it with the prac-

tice, they were not very helpful – quite the reverse." Bearsted Medical Practice refused to comment when approached. Borough councillor Val Springett says she has encountered the same problem when Biffa collects business waste at a local care home. And Downs Mail understands there have been similar problems

elsewhere in the village. Cllr Springett said: "I’m aware of this problem and have reported it. These lorries do make a terrible racket." After a 14-day wait for a comment, Biffa said: “We apologise for any inconvenience and want to reassure residents that our staff are working efficiently and quietly to minimise any disruption.”


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Rail bridge hit

TRAIN services were disrupted after a lorry hit a railway bridge. It happened at around 3.10pm, on the High Street at Chapel Street, near East Malling, on September 23. The disruption lasted for about an hour.

Bus stop crash

A CAR hit a bus stop in Maidstone at about 11.40am on September 22 in Loose Road near the junction with Anglesey Avenue.

Call for apples

THE Friends of Leeds and Broomfield Churches have asked local people to donate spare apples. The fruit will be juiced and sold for charity. If you can help, call Jenny Hoy on 07970 119467.

Young singers

ST Mary's Treblemakers Junior Choir is looking for members. Children over seven years old are welcome to attend every Wednesday at 6pm for one hour. Go to


Speeding is ‘routine’ in Bearsted, say surveys MOTORISTS in Bearsted routinely break the speed limits, according to recent surveys. On average, drivers exceeded the limits in both directions in Ware Street, The Street, Otham Lane, Roseacre Lane, Yeoman Lane, the A20 and The Landway. In Otham Lane, the daytime average speed is almost 10mph higher than the 30mph limit. Limits are broken by over 85% of cars travelling south in Yeoman Lane and 78% going north. As well as monitoring the traffic volume and speed, the survey also tracked the type of vehicle using the roads. The A20 Lilk Hill 60mph limit was broken by almost 7mph westbound on average during the day but traffic was slower in the opposite direction as drivers leave the national speed limit zone. The highway has the lowest level of speeding vehicles, com-

pared to other routes montitored through the village. The surveys were undertaken by the parish council across a week in May. The results will be used to “prioritise areas of concern to the parish highways improvement plan and to demonstrate to Kent County Council concerns within the parish”. The report adds: "The results will also form part of an historical record with the aim to repeat the


Is your child starting school in September 2022? We would like to welcome any prospective families to come and join us for one of our open mornings and come and find out more about our school. Parents and Carers will be able to come and take a tour of the school, ask any questions and see if St Paul’s Infant school would be the right place for your child’s education. If you would like to attend one of our open mornings then please contact the school office to book an appointment.

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surveys every two or three years to record changes." Ware Street takes over 8,000 cars, according to the results. The A20 has a daily average of 11,145 vehicles while The Landway took 3,030 and The Street 3,889. Bearsted borough councillor, Cllr Denis Spooner said: “This will be a mix of rat-running and people seeking destinations in the village but until an origin/destination survey is carried out, it’s hard to know.”

Open Mornings Tuesday 23rd November Wednesday 24th November

Wedding rush ‘is set to slow’

WEDDING bookings are expected to return to “normal levels” across Kent next month, after a busy summer since lockdown restrictions were eased in July. Kent Registration Service has experienced huge demand for ceremonies over the last three months. It is fully booked for the rest of this month, but the number of bookings are predicted to return to more normal levels soon, according to Kent County Council, which oversees the running of the service. County hall chiefs say 60% more ceremonies have been held compared to pre-pandemic levels, putting a “huge strain” on staff. Around 3,260 ceremonies have been conducted since April 2021, with 2,500 of these in July, August and the first half of September, it has been revealed. Large-scale weddings planned for between March 2020 and July 2021 had to be postponed because of the pandemic.


Song helps save village church from developers

A FOLK song has helped to save a much-loved Methodist church from being snapped up by potential developers at auction. The 153-year-old Victorian church, in Headcorn’s conservation area, was due to go under the hammer on September 22 after the Methodists abandoned the site due to rising costs and a diminished congregation. However, a campaign called The Heart of Headcorn Community Project has finally resulted in a community asset listing for part of the building, cancelling the auction. Villagers Sally Musker, Duncan Payne, Tim Thomas, Victoria and Richard Berry, Dr Khum Raj Pathak and Bella Mansfield want to transform the building into a multi-purpose hub with a museum and community college. They have already raised over £17,000 towards its purchase. Campaigners believe the song “I know we can do it”, written by

Derek Bates, owner of MTC Taxis and Tap 17 Microbar, marked a turning point in the campaign. Miss Mansfield said: “It was crucial both for our morale and to raise mass awareness.” The group has just six months to raise enough funds or the property could still be sold off. They are applying for funding and grants from several sources. Events planned include a Headcorn history show on October 30, a sponsored silly walk

on November 21 and a black-tie dinner and dance on January 29. Chairman Tim Thomas said: “This campaign has received support from every section of society and people from all walks of life. “It houses so many shared memories.” Hear the song at xg8-ZqU. To make a donation, go to


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News | Local Plan Review

Village with its own identity

MAIDSTONE Borough Council says that its 2,000-houses plan for a Lidsing garden village will change the character of this area, creating its own unique identity. It says the village could come forward in the middle years of the Local Plan period, starting around 2027, with 1,200 units by 2037, and would operate as an extension of the Medway urban area. MBC sees the opportunity for a significant employment offer (2,000 new jobs) with its strategic access to the M2 via junction 4 and says there is potential to add a new arm to the M2 J4 roundabout, improving how the junction functions. “At present there is little connection between Lordswood and Hempstead areas of Medway and this proposal aims not only to link them via an orbital bus route but provide an additional service node to complement existing facilities,” say council papers. The site adjoins Kent Downs AONB to the south and Capstone Valley to the north and the council sees potential to deliver significant improvements to interconnectivity between them. A small section of the AONB would be required for a new arm to the M2 roundabout and the council proposes substantial enhancement to mitigate this impact. The council recognises many aspects of this proposal would have as much impact on urban Medway as Maidstone and has sought “constructive engagement” to look for solutions. Medway Council is objecting to

Protestors voice their fears Continued from page 1 Lidsing residents joined Lenham protestors (pictured) and one told how her parents, who had lived in Lidsing for a long time, were “bullied” by developers, who said they needed to sell because their land would be made worthless by the new village. She said the developers had been reported for “coercion”, and claimed this was now subject to a wider investigation.

Cllr Vanessa Jones, chairman of Bredhurst Parish Council, said her village of 178 houses was within 200 metres of the Lidsing boundary and could not take traffic from 2,000 houses on its narrow roads. It would be a green light, too, for another 1,000 new houses nearby. At one stage, chairman Cllr Paul Cooper adjourned the meeting when a noisy protestor would not stop shouting his points from the back of the room and was threatened with expulsion.

AONB and Capstone Valley. There would be a new local centre of not less than 1,500 square metres of retail and leisure, and services would be created on an orbital bus route with good access to employment, Hempstead and Lordswood.

A three-form entry primary school would be added and a contribution made to creating another secondary school in Capstone Valley area. Open space would be provided for amenity greens, play, sports and allotments.

COXHEATH is being added to Maidstone’s five Rural Service Centres, areas with their existing services and facilities likely to be chosen by Maidstone Borough Council to accommodate future development. The others are Lenham, Harrietsham, Headcorn, Staplehurst and Marden. East Farleigh joins Eyhorne Street (Hollingbourne), Sutton Valence, Leeds, Loose and Yalding as Maidstone’s larger villages. Maidstone Council says they are considered sustainable locations for limited housing development provided the scale fits their role, character and size.

THE council is to produce a refreshed town centre parking strategy which will disincentivise long-term parking, but prioritise shoppers and visitors. It will also review residents’ parking zones to ensure they are “fair, simple and meet the needs of all road users”.

the proposal for Lidsing. Maidstone envisages a new local centre providing retail, sporting, education and health facilities. Development of the site would be landscape-led, to ensure positive enhancements to both the

Consultation Coxheath joins service hubs Town parking PUBLIC consultation on the Local Plan Review will run from October 29 to December 12. Subsequently, the plan will be examined in public by a Government inspector at a local inquiry, when objectors will be heard.

Household tip

THE plan indicates a new household waste and recycling centre should be provided in the east of the borough, and that the current Tovil site should be expanded.

Average age

THE average age of the population of Maidstone is 40.1 years compared with the national average of 39.3. Maidstone’s average is forecast to increase over the next 20 years.


Plans for two leisure centres MAIDSTONE’S Leisure Centre is set to be replaced by an improved centre on the Mote Park site (pictured). This is likely to be timed with ending of the lease with operating agents Serco in 2024. The council says there should be a second leisure centre in another part of Maidstone to meet demands of a growing population.

Park and ride

THE council is seeking to protect London Road and Willington Street park and ride sites “and will seek opportunities for new sites, especially around urban Maidstone”.

999 station

MAIDSTONE should be served by an expanded, relocated ambulance station. The Coxheath site is now scheduled for housing.

A 30-year plan for a ‘vibrant’ community MAIDSTONE Borough Council’s vision for the large garden village near Lenham is now emerging in the revised Local Plan.

It sees a 5,000 new-homes village in vibrant, sociable neighbourhoods - with the first houses occupied by 2029 and completed by 2039, but the project may take 30 years. The aim is a mix of homes encouraging inter-generational living, with 40% affordable housing. All development will be broadly within the 110-115 metre contours north of the railway line, with the exception of new road, pedestrian and cycle accesses from the A20. There will be up to 5,000 local jobs, community facilities, three primary and one secondary schools, shops, cafes and leisure facilities “set in high quality public spaces”. Infrastructure will be phased as required. According to the paperwork, “there will be a sensitive transition between the North Downs

A heathland landscape with strong planting and village greens, parks, and commons

Area of Natural Beauty and the garden village, with a heathland landscape and strong planting in the northern parcels and landscaped spaces for village greens, parks, commons and green spaces throughout”. The council is still exploring a new Heathlands rail station for the Ashford-Maidstone line, and considers there could be a new M20 junction “as a result of cumulative development between

M20 junctions 8 and 9”. Two new access roads will be built from the village to the A20 (with roundabout junctions), crossing the railway line and a network of pedestrian and cycle paths. New bus routes will link to local train stations and a potentially enlarged Lenham Secondary School. A new district centre (5,000 sqm) is proposed and two local centres (600sqm each), with potential jobs. A new country park around the Stour River south of the site will include a wetlands area to assist filtration of nitrates and phosphates, on Natural England’s advice. The council says site design will be sensitive to local and historic assets and landscapes, including Royston Manor, Chilston Park and other listed buildings.

Local Plan Review

| News

For our future housing needs

INVICTA Barracks, the Leeds/Langley corridor and Lenham are highlighted as strategic development locations. Invicta Barracks are already identified in the Local Plan with a potential for about 1,300 homes, as well as a range of new services, including a new six-form entry secondary school to serve urban Maidstone. The Government has announced the Army will vacate this 41-hectare site in 2027. Leeds/Langley corridor is to be safeguarded, to enable the potential future delivery of an improved road transport connection linking M20 J8 and the A274. It is not yet known how many houses will be needed to help create the business case for this road. Lenham was identified in the 2017 Local Plan as a broad location for development (1,000 dwellings) and will be built out across the plan period up to 2037. Housing sites and infrastructure are included in the Lenham Neighbourhood Plan.

‘Call for sites’ offers nalised NEW sites for development in Maidstone, many volunteered by landowners in the council’s “call for sites” exercise, have now been finalised for inclusion in the Local Plan Review. The largest residential areas are in the town centre, with 650 units planned for Maidstone riverside; 500 for Maidstone East Station site and the former Royal Mail centre; 172 for Mote Road. There are plans for 159 units at Len House (pictured), off Mill Street; 130 for the area close to Maidstone West Station; 50 for Medway Street car park/High Street; and 40 for Gala Bingo/Granada House. Substantial business use is planned for the riverside (5,148 sqm), Maidstone East (5,000), Mote Road (1,250) and Maidstone West (1,034) – in addition to Ashford Road, Lenham (2,500) and Sutton Valence (400). Town centre uses such as retail, food and drink and leisure are

shown at: Len House (3,600sqm); Maidstone Riverside (2,574); Maidstone East (2,000); Maidstone West (517); Granada House (500); and High Street (150). Such widescale development along the riverside would involve finding a new home for current retail warehouses. The Power-

hub building and Baltic Wharf would be retained. Just outside the town centre, Springfield Tower (the former library) has been allocated 150 residential units. Overall, there is a total of 29 new sites and the largest outside the centre include: Abbey Gate

Farm with access off Dean Street, Tovil (250 units); south of Kent Police HQ (196) and also on the HQ site (135); Moat Road, Headcorn (110); north of Copper Lane and Albion Road, Marden (113); Haven Farm and Southways, Sutton Valence (100), including a new village hub. Others are north of Kenward Road, Yalding (100 units); east of Lodge Road (78) and at Home Farm (49), Staplehurst; Beacon Park, north of Heath Road (85), Kent Ambulance HQ (10) and former Orchard Centre (5), Coxheath. There are more at Sutton Road, west of Rumwood Court (75 units); north of Ware Street, Bearsted (67); Oxford Road, east of Maidstone (20), south of A20 (53) and Keilen Manor (47), Harrietsham; Campfield Farm, Boughton Monchelsea (30). One factor in selections was need for new residential development to be spatially spread across the borough.



Drugs charge

A DRIVER has been disqualified for three years after driving at over eight times the drug limit. Ryan Webb (29), of The Heath, West Malling, gave a test result of 406mg of cocaine in one litre of blood. The legal limit is 50mg. He admitted driving when above the legal drug limit in Sevenoaks, on March 2 and was sentenced at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on August 25. As well as his ban, Webb was fined £500 and ordered to pay a surcharge of £50 and costs of £85.

Brothers keep sporting ambition in the family TWO brothers from Maidstone are living proof that a sporty gene runs in the family. Both huge successes in their own fields are weightlifter Tayla (15) and racing car driver Loui (16) Hounsell from Grove Green. Mid Kent College student Loui is on his way to win the rookie title in the Junior Saloon Car Championships, despite not being old enough to drive on the roads. The former Valley Park pupil is currently 47 points ahead of his 25 competitors, some with years more experience than him. He has just three rounds left of the season. Loui said: “My mum and dad are both petrolheads so that’s where I get it from. “The ultimate dream would be to race professionally. But I would also like to instruct on the side. I think that would be a pretty good career path.” The Formula One fan said he

Driving ban

A DRINK driver has been banned after getting behind the wheel more than twice the legal limit. Lee Hobden (36), of Stratford Road, West Malling, was sentenced at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on August 6. He admitted driving when above the legal alcohol limit, in West Malling, on July 3. When stopped he gave a reading of 83mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg. He was banned from driving for 18 months and fined £120 with a surcharge of £34 and costs of £85.


had always grown up watching Top Gear and developed a passion for racing at a young age. Brother and weightlifting record holder Tayla is also on track to attend the British Championships in November. The Valley Park student holds the British record for the Under 15s 55kg weight category clean and jerk record, which is 79kg. He said: “The ultimate goal is to compete at the Vegas Olympics in 2028.” Nan Les Waldren said: “I am very proud of them both. Tayla trains five days a week and there’s never any sense of dread about getting up and training. They both just work really hard and there is no rivalry between them. “Tayla will go to Loui’s races and Loui will sit at Tayla’s competitions. They are both so dedicated and we are all so pleased for them both.”

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Brown guilty | News

Violent David Brown’s assault appeal case fails A MAIDSTONE man who strangled his estranged ex-partner has lost his appeal against a conviction of assault. Cleaner David Brown (30), of Owletts Close, Shepway, was originally charged with criminal damage, engaging in controlling/ coercive behaviour and assault by beating. The victim, who now lives in another part of the country, told the court Brown put a blanket over her head before strangling her on the sofa. She suffered a swollen eye and red marks on her neck. It was alleged Brown controlled what his partner of six years wore, how long she was allowed to spend with her family and he would also accuse her of sleeping with a female friend. Brown told the court the heated argument had erupted after he took one of his children to Mc-

Donald’s, but he denied an assault took place. In a text message which was read out in court, Brown wrote: “I haven’t touched you in over a year.” Brown claimed the text referred to a time when he had to “restrain” his partner. She also claimed Brown took her memory box to her stillborn child and poured petrol over it before burning it in a fire pit in the garden. At an appeal hearing at Maidstone Crown Court, two of the three original charges against Brown were dropped. He was acquitted of destroying the memory box and engaging in coercive behaviour, but he was refused his appeal against the conviction of assault. Brown showed no emotion when he was told he had lost the appeal.

VICTIM HAS HER SAY l BROWN’S victim, who is pregnant by a new partner, said: “Once this is over, I can get on with my life. He’ll be sentenced for the assault and he’ll have to face the consequences.” The defendant forced his victim to relive the ordeal and answer questions from his barrister, Emin Kandola. Judge Janet Bignell QC scolded the defence lawyer for causing “dramas” in court one. l THE victim told the court of an incident where Brown locked her in the bathroom for over four and a half hours and informed her family she was having a breakdown. When ambulance crews arrived, she claims Brown played the role of a “concerned partner” until she was discharged from hospital.

Defendant David Brown

l THE court heard on January 2, 2019, Brown and his partner got into an argument at their home in Cambridge Crescent, Shepway. Mr Brown, who was 20 stone at the time, put a blanket over her head and put his hands around her throat, pinning her down.

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Daddy long legs in ‘harmless’ invasion GOLF course greenkeepers hate them but fly-fishers love them ... and the daddy long legs is here in record numbers this autumn. The insect, formally known as the crane fly, is buzzing around gardens and in our homes after a bumper hatch, which experts believed was caused by topsy-turvy spring weather. This led to the larvae, known as leather-jackets, thriving in the top soil where they feed on roots prior to emerging as the adult. The leather-jacket can cause a lot of damage to grass and plants, leaving bare patches in parks, on lawns and golf course greens. However, "daddies", which are blown onto rivers and lakes and devoured by trout are employed to great effect by fly-fishers. Naturalist Theo McCausland, of Langley, said: "There are many more than usual and it seems to be the same story in this part of Kent

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picking off crane flies as they emerge through the grass.” The crane fly is harmless and largely does not eat anything during its brief existence, lasting only a fortnight. Their sole purpose is to mate and die. Many baseless myths surround the daddy long legs, not least that they are the most venomous insect in the county. If anything, they are more of a prey species, says Mr McCausland. There are 300 species of British crane fly, although one is indistinguishable from the next except to expert entomologists. They normally start emerging from their larval home in mid to late August, signalling for some the approaching end of summertime. Mr McCausland added: “The daddy long legs gets a bit of a bad reputation, largely not deserved, and probably does more good than harm in the long run.”

Podcast boost

DISABLED adults supported by a local charity which helps them live independently are putting together their own radio podcast with cash from the National Lottery. Spadework, near West Malling, helps to build confidence and communication skills through participating in song-writing, script writing and making “Spadio”. A spokesman said: "We aim to unlock the potential of our trainees, to give them an increased sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose." The podcast is being produced with the help of Giles Whitehead, who launched Unit Radio 10 years ago while teaching at The Malling School.

Police in class

STUDENTS have been receiving support on issues including bullying, drugs and online exploitation from Kent Police. A team of schools officers visited classrooms for the first time this term to meet youngsters. The initiative also seeks to equip students with skills and confidence to stay safe.

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Bent charge

A MAN is going on trial accused of driving a murderer away from the scene of Andre Bent’s killing. Channing Hart (29), of Potters Bar, denied assisting Vasilios Ofogeli, then 17, by driving him to London after the attack on August 25, 2019. Ofogeli has been jailed for life. Hart pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to a charge of violent disorder. He was remanded in custody and his trial set for January 31, 2022.

Firework date

BEARSTED’s Fireworks Extravaganza will return on November 5. The event will take place at the Elizabeth Harvie Field from 6pm. Last entry will be at 7.15pm ahead of the fireworks starting at 7.30pm. Each paying adult will be able to claim up to three children’s tickets.

Quiz night

FRIENDS of Headcorn Church are holding a quiz night in the Andred Hall at 7.15pm on October 16. Teams are of six and tickets are £5 per quizzer. Call Jackie on 01622 890199.

Bishop’s inspiring tour takes in village schools BISHOP Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who looks after the Diocese of Canterbury on behalf of the Archbishop, recently made a visit to the North Downs Deanery, to the west of Maidstone. The Bishop of Dover is pictured here on her first stop, with Leeds Castle chief executive Helen Bonser-Wilton. The bishop worshipped with ordained and lay ministers at the castle chapel. She then spoke at Leeds and Broomfield School before visiting the Cygnet Mental Health unit in Bearsted Road. In the afternoon, she visited Ulcombe School, where she dedicated a reflection garden. The bishop’s next stop was Loddington Farm, in Boughton Monchelsea, where she heard how weather has adversely affected the summer fruit crop. She also visited business units there.

In the evening, she spoke and answered questions at Boughton Monchelsea Church. Bearsted vicar Canon John Corbyn said: "Inspiring, moving, challenging' were some of the words people used after meeting and hearing her. She received invitations to return to the area. "True to her reputation as 'the singing bishop', she sang at both

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schools she visited, to much delight." Her role is also as Bishop of Canterbury, filling the gap during the Archbishop of Canterbury’s absences at Lambeth Palace in London and around the world. The Jamaican-born bishop (60) was appointed to the role in 2019 after serving as chaplain to the former speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.


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COLIN Attree (91) was known in and around West Malling as a stalwart of St Mary’s church choir. He was also treasurer at Wrotham Church, the RNLI and the Garden Tomb Association, a duty which involved many trips to Jerusalem. Born in Essex, Colin’s involvement with the church and choral singing began at the age of ve in his local church in Walthamstow. He was sent to Cornwall during the war. Colin spent his entire career with Barclays Bank, but an early ambition to play professional cricket saw him trial for Essex. He continued to support the county and took much pleasure in their considerable achievements. Colin’s talents as a singer took him to many live performances in churches and other venues. A tribute on the parish website pictured him singing carols in his local branch of Asda in 2003. Colin’s association with St Mary’s began when his wife, Audrey, was interviewed for the post of organist at the church. Canon Brian Stevenson noted: “It was a privilege to hear his wonderful voice – his entries always correct, holding the notes to the right length and providing wonderful colour and tone.” Colin and Audrey stepped down from their roles in 2013. He leaves his wife, three children and his grandchildren.

Caroline Gaskin CAROLINE Gaskin was known for her work with the charity Holding On Letting Go – a Kent and Medway charity specialising in helping children cope with grief after the loss of someone close. Caroline Ford, the charity’s CEO, said: “She was our fundraiser for the

past ve years and was a much-loved member of our small close-knit team who are devastated by her death.” Caroline was married to Paul, and mother to son Sam and daughter Millie. She was originally from Essex and had attended the University of Portsmouth. Millie shared the news of her mother’s death online, noting her family were “absolutely heartbroken right now and still trying to come to terms with our loss.” She added: “Mum was loved by so many and I know absolutely no one that had as many friends as she did. Her vibrant personality and beautiful smile will be remembered forever.”

Fred Booth FREDERICK “Fred” Booth MBE (91) was known locally as the rst director of the Kent Wildlife Trust and for his lengthy and signicant police career in the county. He lived in Madginford Road for 30 years and died in Tunbridge Wells. Born in Bexleyheath and educated in Canterbury, Fred did national service and, after considering a university education, opted instead to join Kent Police. His career took him all over the country before he retired with the rank of Chief Superintendent in 1982. He then followed his passion in conservation work, a calling that led him to become the rst director of Kent Wildlife Trust. However, he stepped down after a few years, preferring a more hands-on approach to volunteering. His work with the trust included initiating the Kent Marine Conservation group, which undertook a survey of the entire Kent coastline. He also carried out survey work and ran educational groups. Fred was married to Margaret from 1950, although their combined ill health

prompted a move to a care home in Tunbridge Wells, where he died on August 29. Kent Wildlife Trust spokesman Anne Waite said: “We consider Fred to have been one of the best all-round naturalists in Kent for over 50 years, and his contributions to nature conservation should never be underestimated."


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Ivy Lewis IVY Joan Lewis (91), who has died in Hastings, lived in Barming from the late 1960s until the mid 1970s, running the local branch of Martins newsagents with her husband of 45 years, Ernie. Known to many as “Mick”, she was born in Poplar, London, and evacuated to Windsor during the war. She married Ernie before moving to Kent, and the pair devoted much of their working life to running newsagents, eventually leaving their Barming shop to run a Martins branch in the Gillingham area. Ivy was mother to Ruby and Reg. Reg said: “People will remember my mother as someone who really enjoyed a laugh and a joke. She got on well with everyone and was usually on the till in our shops. “Going out with her in the local area meant running into people who knew her and said hello. She was the second youngest of seven children, and the last survivor amongst her siblings. “She loved going to France for the day, generally stocking up on wine as she did. She remained independent long after our father died and only moved to Hastings for the nal months of her life to be near me and my family.” Widow Ivy leaves her son (her daughter died in 2013), ve grandchildren and nine greatgrandchildren.



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Thugs threaten bowls club

BOWLS players in Maidstone fear their club will not survive to see its centenary unless more is done to deter vandals wrecking their green. Thugs have recently started to use the lawn surface at Clare Park Bowls Club, Tonbridge Road, as a five-a-side football pitch. Others leave litter and rubbish all over the playing area while some have ridden bikes over it. Members are calling on site owners Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) to secure the site, so that youths cannot break in. Club secretary Colin Lester (86), who joined Clare Park in 1984, said: "It's happening all the time now and it's a real pain. "The council put up fencing, but that didn't stop them smashing it down. They leave rubbish everywhere and show no consideration for the place at all. It’s depressing. "We were hoping to celebrate our centenary in two years' time, but

Witness plea after robber raids house

POLICE are investigating a robbery at a home in Marden. An unknown man is reported to have entered a home in Thorn Road at around 4am on Sunday, September 5. He threatened a man and a woman, before stealing cash, a bracelet, necklaces and several watches. A Kent Police spokesman said "The suspect is described as being around 5ft 10 ins tall with a stocky build. He was dressed in a black jacket and was also wearing a balaclava and black gloves. He was seen carrying a black rucksack." Detectives have conducted enquiries at the scene, which included speaking with potential witnesses and checking for forensic evidence. They would like to hear from anyone who believes they have information on the incident or from anyone who may have dash cam footage, or privately held CCTV, which was recorded in the area between 4 and 5am. Anyone with information can call Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting 46/166332/21. You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555111 or by using the online form.

Mal Allen, Audrey Lester, Tony Fairman, John Sinfield and Colin Lester that is now looking less likely because our membership is falling away. Who would want to join a bowls club that has vandals wrecking the playing surface?" The club once had a thriving

membership of 50, but in recent years has fallen back to 15. Mr Lester added: "It's a bit desperate now." He said members are reluctant to challenge youths as they are some-

times wary of the consequences. Mr Lester, a former sales manager in the automotive industry, and his wife Audrey are both members. Audrey has represented her county in the past. MBC said: “There now appears to be a small determined group of people who are intent on damaging the fence and hedge in order to play football on the bowls green, despite there being a multi-use games/ball court and a level grassed area adjacent to it. “MBC continues to look for costeffective means to protect the green and to support the bowls club as much as possible at Clare Park. The team works hard to protect the area and is looking again at options to help look after the park in the most appropriate ways it can.”

Roads closed for resurfacing A SERIES of phased overnight road closures will take place in Maidstone until October 25. The measures are for resurfacing works on the A274 Sutton Road between Queen Elizabeth Square and Buffkyn Way. Closures are as follows: Phase 2 – Road closures between Willington Street and St Saviour’s Road from October 7 to 22 (8pm to 5am Monday to Fridays). Access to and from Willington Street will be available, but will be controlled with temporary traffic lights. Access to and from the Morrisons supermarket will con-

tinue to be available when approached from Maidstone town. Vehicles requiring access to the Parkwood industrial estate will be able to approach from either the A274 Langley or from Willington Street. Phase 3 – Road closure at St Saviour’s Road junction (between Willington Street and Northumberland Road) on three consecutive Sundays (October 10, 17, 24 from 5pm to 5am). This phase of works will run concurrently with phase 2, but will be taking place only on Sundays.

Music for care homes MAIDSTONE musician Rob Tompsett has been awarded funding through Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants to entertain local care home residents. Mr Thompsett said the benefits of live music, particularly to those living with dementia, are well documented. He added: "I feel I can make a real positive difference to people’s lives. With this grant I can bring joy through music and laughter to so many more care homes and day centres without stretching their available funds."

Access to and from Willington Street will be available, but will be controlled with temporary traffic lights. The diversion route for Maidstone-bound traffic will be via Willington Street, A20 Ashford Rd, A249 Wat Tyler Way, A249 Mote Rd, A229 Upper Stone Street, A229 Loose Road. The diversion route for Langley and Tenterden-bound traffic will begin at the Wheatsheaf junction and proceed via A229 Loose Road, A229 Linton Road, B2163 Heath Road and B2163 Plough Wents Road.

Garage blaze

FIREFIGHTERS tackled a garage fire in Wateringbury. Three fire engines attended the property in Cobbs Close at around 1.47pm on September 26. The fire, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault, destroyed a converted garage and spread to two cars and fencing.

Festive bazaar

COXHEATH Primary School is holding a Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, November 13. The event, which starts at 11am, will include Santa’s grotto, mince pies, mulled wine, face painting and a tearoom.


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Crime report PCSO John Boyd was moving to another patch and the council thanked him for his support. Highway matters A pothole was developing on Liverton Hill. Potholes in Southerndon Lane had not been repaired. Cllr Adams would chase KCC. Cllr Adams would chase KCC regarding the water leak in Woodcock Lane. Cllr Adams would report white lining at Crumps Lane junction. Bus The report on the pilot scheme was noted. It was agreed to write to KCC regarding the impact of road closures on the bus service. Litter A litter pick-up was to be arranged for August with the clerk placing a notice in Malherbe Monthly. Footpaths An update on the footpaths map for the village was received and noted. A nal draft had been prepared. The map would be erected next to the parish council notice board. A list of 14 stiles was agreed as a priority for replacement. Cllr Kennaird was working on a proposal for the Eastwood Road/Headcorn Road junction, which he would submit directly to KCC. Traffic calming The works had commenced on August 23.

East Farleigh Vegetation Residents had reported that overgrowth was obscuring some road signs and it was too dangerous for residents to go out into the roads to cut it back. The clerk would ascertain who was responsible for clearing overgrowth from road signs. Play area A resident had noted that the grass in the play area needed cutting. This had now been dealt with. Assistant nance officer It was agreed that the clerk should sort out a job description and draft an employment contract before advertising the position. Car park It was reported that the car park was in good order apart from some strimming and general works. There was no need for further aggregate. Recreation ground This was in good order but needed strimming. The container needed painting and it was agreed that this would be a good project for the school children. Vicarage Lane play area Strimming had been done and the elephant springer had been repaired. Further works were scheduled by Pearsons. Speedwatch The parish council thanked Peter Beasley for all his work in coordinating Speedwatch and the police speed check scheme. His report was circulated.

Lenham Co-option Two co-option candidates sent their apologies, so the vote was postponed until the September council meeting. Finance officer Cllr Britt reported that the

responsible nancial officer RFO was required to be an employed officer to satisfy legal requirements and ensure future audit reports do not continue to highlight irregularities. A contract of employment was drawn up and backdated to July 1. Volunteers Day Cllr Osborne said the date had been changed due to a change in COVID-19 regulations. It was agreed to pay £500 towards the event. Swimming pool Cllrs Britt, Garland and Lowe met with the swimming pool committee. An article would be included in the Lenham Focus, and a survey was to be prepared to gain local opinion. The next meeting would be in September. William Pitt Field Two enquiries had been received regarding the use of the eld, one for a wedding reception and one for a food van. It was agreed to ask the opinion of the Lenham Wanderers football club as the main users of the eld and report back. Nursery building Cllr Ratcliffe said the ecological consultants had conrmed that no bats had been located during the surveys at the old allotments building. Village signposts These were being installed. Toilets £1,000 had been sent to the solicitors to cover MBCs legal costs and progress the lease. Cemetery Additional space was needed in the cemetery for ashes. Steven Waring would be asked if this was something he could do or if he could recommend anyone. Shop signs Cllr Ratcliffe said the shop signs that had been installed that were not in line with guidance had not been changed or removed. An email would be sent to MBC.

Loose Northleigh Close The deputy clerk said residents of Northleigh Close were parking at the junction,was causing a problem for the refuse lorries to get down the road to empty the bins. The parish council had reported the issue to MBC who had said that as the issue was not on a busy main road and there was no crash data there was little they could do. The repeat offenders had been photographed and their details shared with the PCSO. Warden’s report Community Warden Liz Lovatt had been supporting vulnerable people, including referrals to social services and direct support. Police news PC Tony Ingram was introduced as the schools officer for Cornwallis and New Line Learning. This was a new role for police officers. Their main role is to be a visible presence in school, outside school and to help the schools with safeguarding issues. PCSO report There had been several road traffic collisions in the last month. The PCSO had been patrolling Lancet Lane to keep an eye on the parking. PCSO James Goodwin was due to return as the PCSO for Loose.

Meeting dates A resident had asked if council meetings could be advertised on Facebook. She would also like the meeting date sent out on the ‘community alert’. The council advised that they met all the statutory requirements with regards to advising residents of meetings ie notice boards and website. It was agreed to put a note on Facebook when a meeting is coming up once the agenda is published. Housing name GBA Designs had contacted the council about the name for the development in Hubbards Lane. The council had originally proposed William Tomkin Court and their client would like just Tomkin Court or the original suggestion of Cherry Court. After discussion it was agreed to stick with William Tomkin Court. Speedwatch Due to COVID-19, Speedwatch had not taken place in the parish. Now restrictions had been lifted it was hoped to get new members to join so that it could start up again.

Parish Councils

Boughton Malherbe

Marden Garden waste The collection had been impacted due to staffing issues. Police issues Six crimes had been reported since June: two burglaries, two thefts from motor vehicles and two thefts of motor vehicles. There had been three reports of anti-social behaviour and noisy and nuisance bikes. Flooding There had been isolated ooding in several areas around the parish following heavy rainfall. Cllr Newton would report the area of ooding in Maidstone Road. Play scheme The clerk provided a report on the two weeks of the scheme and a draft budget. However, an invoice was still awaited from Marden Primary Academy for the use of the facilities. Once this had been received, the clerk would conrm the income and expenditure for this year. Numbers were at the maximum for most of the days of the scheme. Thanks were expressed to the manager and staff for an excellent timetable of activities. Administrative assistant Interviews for the role were taking place. The HR subcommittee was given delegated powers to recruit and appoint and members would be informed, via email, of the successful applicant. Members agreed the purchase of a laptop and office chair. Highways improvement plan Cllr Burton asked that the issue of signage in Pattenden Lane regarding the industrial units within the area be considered for inclusion in the plan. HGVs are missing some of the smaller industrial units and are having to turn in other business units or park in the road. Cllr Burton requested that street signage primarily at Underlyn Lane end be included in the HIP. Fingerpost signs Cllr Turner had forwarded the most up to date photographs to the clerk, who had drafted a specication which Cllr Turner would review. Once this had been agreed the clerk would contact companies for quotes.



£92m scheme for junction

A £92million scheme to improve a busy junction on the M2 will begin in January. WThe upgrade scheme was agreed earlier this year by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps. Junction 5 currently has one of the highest collision rates in England and is hoped this project will reduce collisions by around a third. A National Highways spokesman said: “We will be starting construction on our improvements for the M2 junction 5 Stockbury interchange in January 2022. Ahead of this, we need to carry out some preparation work, which will start soon." Highways England said: “Improving the Stockbury Interchange will bring real benefits to the drivers who use this junction daily, and it will improve the flow of traffic to provide a safer and more integrated network.”

Mela brings crowds back to Mote Park

MORE than 3,000 people turned up at Mote Park for an afternoon of music, food, and entertainment at the Maidstone Mela. The free festival, which celebrates the wealth of cultural diversity in the borough, showcased an array of talent from across the world, including Bloco Fogo Samba, Reel Eire Irish Dance and Kings of Dhol. They were followed by the everpopular Maidstone Nepalese Community Group (pictured). This is the first year the Mela has been back at its original venue after spending the past three years at Whatman Park. Maidstone Borough Council, which pulled its funding in 2015, agreed last year to support the cultural event with a £5,000 grant every year for the next three years, so it can eventually become self-financing. A date for the next Mela has al-


ready been secured and will be announced soon. Organiser Gurvinder Sandher said: “I have been involved with the Mela since we started it in 2003. “I am so proud that we were able to produce a positive event which showcased the diversity of Maidstone. “It was wonderful to get a lot of positive comments on the day. For many audience members it was the

first big outdoor event they had attended since the start of the pandemic, which is a great testament to the appeal of the Mela. “A date for next year has already been secured and, fundraising permitting, I look forward to building upon what we have learned this year to put on an even bigger event next year. I always said that one day we would get the Mela back to Mote Park and we did it.”





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Award for life-saving pair

POLICE dog handler PC Megan West and her canine colleague Calli have been awarded a top accolade for saving a man’s life. there was no one around, but I was made aware by the officers that it was a popular dog-walking location, so there were scents and smells everywhere. “Calli and I conducted a longline search. We’d been walking for about 10 minutes when Calli stopped and stood completely still, her eyes fixed into the distance off the path. “Then she started barking furiously. I spotted a figure in the distance, about 70 meters away. I shouted, but then I realised he was suspended from a tree.” The duo ran over and Megan grabbed the man’s legs to take some weight off his neck. Megan added: “I’d be lying if I

said I was calm – I was desperate for this man to survive. I was shouting for my colleagues and to the man, but he was turning blue and then fell unconscious. “I took out my multitool, slashed at the rope and he fell to the ground. Calli jumped on top of him tugging at his clothes while I cut the rope from his neck.” After first aid, the man regained consciousness. The pair stayed with him until paramedics arrived and took the man to hospital. Megan was reunited with the man a few weeks later and he thanked her – and Calli – for saving his life.

Homes plan refused

Two-year ban for motorist

The officer (28), of Stockbury, and her German Shepherd dog partner swung into action following concerns about a missing person. The pair found a man who was trying to hang himself in dense woods. Megan and Calli’s life-saving efforts saw them selected as the winner of the lifesaver category an awards ceremony sponsored by an insurance company. Megan recalled: “There were two missing persons reports in the same area and a lot of resources had been tasked to one, so Calli and I were sent to the other job with two other officers. “It was dense woodland and

Driving charge

MAIDSTONE woman Katy Sue Lafferty has elected to stand trial on a charge of drink-driving. Miss Lafferty (20) was listed to appear before Maidstone magistrates court on September 20. The accused, of Moncktons Avenue, allegedly drove a Vauxhall Corsa in Hermitage Lane while nearly twice the legal limit on July 12. She was remanded on unconditional bail until March for trial.

Biker injured

A MOTORCYCLIST was rushed to hospital with a leg injury after a crash with another biker. It happened just after 11am on September 2 at the Cobtree roundabout on the A229 in Maidstone.

Crime reports 36

PERMISSION has been refused for three new houses in Hollingbourne. The application proposed the demolition of Woodside in Firs Lane, and the building of the three-bedroom detached homes to replace it. The plan was met with a huge backlash from neighbours, due to the close proximity of the houses and the narrow lane. One objector said: “The application is completely dishonest and does not show the real impact the proposed properties will have on the existing dwellings. “We all feel we have not been listened to and we feel we have not been treated fairly on this

misleading application. My property is a small bungalow, our first house and forever home. “We fell in love with it because of the rural area, and now there is a potential we will be overlooked by two-storey properties directly opposite us. “To make matters worse, they have placed the driveway right outside our main bedroom window. “We have measured the lane and it is only 2.8 metres wide. “Imagine having car headlights beaming through your bedroom and car noise at such a close proximity.” The application was unanimously refused.

A MAIDSTONE woman has been banned from driving after being twice the legal alcohol limit. Rebecca Boughton (30), of Camomile Drive, was sentenced at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on August 31. She admitted driving when above the legal drink-drive limit in Maidstone on August 3. When stopped she gave a reading of 83mg of alcohol in 91ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg. She was disqualified from driving for 23 months and ordered to carry out 90 hours of unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £95 and costs of £85.

Neighbourhood Watch

TWO men were seen trying to steal a vehicle in Grovewood Drive South, Boxley. Six men damaged a shelf of drinks in a shop in Buckland Hill. A vehicle was broken into in Forstal Lane, Working to reduce crime. Call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 or local police Coxheath. Three youths were seen damaging a bus Shrubs and bushes were stolen from theTwo young men kicked signs outside a stop by throwing stones at it in Plains Av- garden of a new-build home in Kings Road, store in The Parade, Staplehurst. enue, Shepway. Headcorn. Windows were smashed at a pub in A commercial property was broken into A hole was burned in a tent in High Ayslesford High Street. in Detling Hill, Detling. Street, Headcorn. Plants were stolen from a house in LonA house was damaged with paint in A window of a Nissan Qashqai was don Road, Ditton. Wheeler Street, Maidstone. smashed in a hospital car park in HerTwo young people damaged goal posts at A man damaged windscreen wipers of a mitage Lane, Maidstone, and an ID card a school in Crispin Way, Kings Hill. silver Ford Focus in Station Approach, Fant. was taken. Somebody saw a group of young people Thieves broke into a house in St WelcTwo windows were smashed at a house damage guttering while on the roof of a umes Way, Harrietsham, and stole bank in The Cockpit, Marden. public building in New Hythe Lane, Larkcards, tobacco, house keys and car keys. A group of young people took apples field. They then used the keys to steal a black from a tree and threw them at cars in A Ford Transit was broken into in Burns Jaguar XF, registration OE64 ***. Northumberland Road, Shepway. Road, Fant.

“I HAVE voted Conservative all my adult life, but unless they do something about these b****y roads and houses, it’s going to have to change. I mean it.” Hark! A Downs Mail reader at his wits’ end about the state of Maidstone’s roads. He is not the rst to express sentiments in such terms and perhaps not so politely. To recap, readers, the Government wants to build 1,200 homes a year in Maidstone, whether we want them or not, and essentially doesn’t care how its denizens get about on its disintegrating highways. Just as long as it gets done. Now that the discredited housing minister Robert Jenrick has been sacked, his replacement, Michael Gove, will at some point have to reveal his hand. In his show-stopper solution to the country’s housing problems, Mr Jenrick suggested removing much of the public scrutiny from the planning system to allow developers an easier ride through the process. Councillors, residents, industry professionals, surveyors, architects, informed observers and just about everyone with a pulse were aghast. Given that houses are being foisted on us, one sticking point has been that the borough and the county councils have not agreed which so-called “improvements” to highways should be done rst. Kent County Council issued a press release about a consultation into several schemes in January 2020, grandly titled the Maidstone Integrated Transport Package. The consultation ended in March last year. Pandemic aside, nothing has been done. Why? While the dithering continues, the house-building has not stopped. Housing estates are springing up all over the place like eld mushrooms. The pressure on roads is becoming intolerable. The Local Plan Review, entering its nal stages, has earmarked a vast number of

Phone booking for tips REFERENCE your recent front-page story about the possibility of Kent County Council (KCC) keeping the online booking system for waste tips. The cabinet member for the environment, Susan Carey, sets out the case for public consultation for the 18 sites. This sounds good, but all over Kent ytipping is everywhere. Why? Because a third of all Kent residents do not have a computer or access to the internet. So if she still wants to keep her system, she should publish a phone number the public can use to book a slot. R Smith, Burham

Online system works well THE issue of whether we should hold onto the online booking system for Tovil tip or go back to the old system has provoked a lot of reaction, and rightly so.


SIMON FINLAY Editor simon. Twitter @Simonnlay6500 new homes in places, like Lidsing and Lenham, where locals have said they do not want them. They continue not to be listened to. Ask KCC why the highways work has not begun, answer there comes none. It is understood there is preparatory work going on and there may be an update later

Now housing minister Robert Jenrick has been sacked, Michael Gove will have to reveal his hand…

this month. But the longer the delays, the greater the impact on the increasing number of people using the roads will become. Tory backbenchers in the southeast have warned seats will fall if nothing changes. Whether the national target of 300,000 new homes per year changes under Gove remains to be seen. What can be expected from Gove is an unexpected, perhaps even radical, shift in emphasis, say observers. Jenrick clearly listened to the clever-clogs in Whitehall and ploughed on without hearing the clamour from Tory backbenches.

The stunning Liberal Democrat victory in the Chesham and Amersham byelection in June had opposition to the Jenrick planning reforms central to the decision. Doubtless the defeat shook the PM and hastened Jenrick’s departure, and the reforms have been shelved for now. Ominously for the main parties, the Greens came third, hinting that they could prove troublesome in the future. Politicians generally agree on the need for more affordable homes in England but, here in Kent, all we seem to be doing is nding space for enormous “executive” style haciendas in our villages for bored Londoners to live in. There is so little imagination. At least the new leadership of Maidstone Borough Council has indicated bold intentions to acquire 1,000 locally-sourced, affordable properties for people to live in. In times gone by, businessman Rob Schroeder’s “eco village” for nigh on 1,000 houses in Kingswood, with an emphasis on affordable, green homes for local people in local employment, didn’t get out of the starting gate. The fact that there is a mini by-pass on offer and the traffic advantage that would bring to a beleaguered area of the borough held absolutely no sway, nor stirred any interest. Perhaps, in future, inventive schemes will get a look-in. If rumours from county hall are to be believed, there are growing tensions between elected members and the unelected officers. Some of the former think some of the latter wield too much power and inuence. Sounds familiar. It would be imprudent to disclose who the chap referred to at the start of this piece would be voting for next time. But, let us say, it happens when you mix blue and yellow together.

It has worked for me. I hate having to sit in traffic outside any of the dumps (and I regularly use three or four). If the online system had been a disaster, there would have been an outcry – but there hasn’t because it has worked well. Rather than being a service you can use and use and use, it now has value because one makes a judgement about what actually needs to go to the tip and what can be recycled, passed on or simply kept. Local authorities get a lot of stick from the public and the media. But this has been a success and that should be recognised. But going forward, a hybrid model of online and free-to-enter might work best. B Williams, via email

county in the UK. How far from the truth. Yorkshire is the largest traditional county with an area of 6,000 square miles and a population of around ve million. In 1974, it was divided into four administrative “ridings”, but North Yorkshire is still the largest county, with an area of 3,212 square miles. If the assessment is made on population rather than area Greater London is by the far the largest – three times larger than West Midlands. Kent is big, but is well down the UK lists on both area and population. I love living in Kent, but I feel I must set the record straight. Betty James, Maidstone

Kent not biggest county

Food hall choice is poor

AS A proud Yorkshire woman, I was astounded to read a Downs Mail letter to the editor claiming Kent is the biggest

I AM disappointed with the range of fastfood restaurants proposed for Maidstone Borough Council’s new food hall at


Tories’ housing nemesis



Lockmeadow in October (Mail Marks, September). We love nding large, quality food halls as we travel both in Britain and abroad – with their wide choice of popular dishes we are condent of meeting the varied tastes of all our family. All four of us have our favourites – two love Indian, one goes for pizzas and my choice is Thai. It looks as though I may be luckier at Lockmeadow than my husband and children, but we shall be making an early visit to suck it and see! We certainly are not interested in vegetarian and vegan. Margaret Thompson, Maidstone

Paramedic funding blow WE ARE writing to ask if you would consider highlighting an anomaly which could affect the recruitment of paramedics. From September 2021, the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) has made it compulsory for all future paramedics to hold a BSc Paramedic Science qualication. This intensive three-year course is a mixture of wide-ranging placement experiences plus full academic study. As it stands today, anybody who chooses to go ahead and study paramedic science as a second undergraduate degree in England is prohibited from accessing nancial support from Student Finance England (SFE), despite students who are studying other health care professionals’ courses as a second undergraduate degree being fully eligible for funding. This lack of government funding makes anybody who already holds a degree extremely unlikely to consider pursuing a career as a paramedic, especially given that the £27,750 for the degree needs to be self-funded. Furthermore,these students are also unable to take advantage of bursaries and grants that the NHS makes available for rst degree paramedic students. My daughter has recently experienced this at rst hand. Unbeknown to her, she received full funding for her rst year (2020/21), but on applying to SFE for her second year, was told that it had been, in fact, an error on their part and there would be no further funding. Had she been studying in Scotland or Wales, she would have secured full funding. We are currently in stage three of the appeal process, with the Bank of Mum and Dad funding her second year, but as you can appreciate, this has left us in a very precarious position nancially. We have had to set up a crowdfunding account with GoFundMe to not only try to raise much needed funds but also to publicise this ludicrous situation. Hazel and Terry Willis, Maidstone


Project A meeting calm AFTER recent reporting of the meeting about Bearsted’s “Project A”, one could be forgiven for thinking it was attended by noisy, banner-waving protesters when this was clearly not the case. In fact, the meeting was civilised, as to be expected, and the only “ery” part was when one of the councillors had a ve-minute rant quite clearly directed at the public. The councillor apologised to the chairman. Apart from that, all proceedings were measured and considered. I cannot see how the reporter could ascertain whether any of the public were protesters or not unless he/she is a mind reader; whether there were 40 there or not is debatable, but can easily be veried by the Covid register passed around. There were no banners. I, along with others were there to listen and learn about the progress being made by the council in their consideration of Project A. I am neither an allotment holder nor a tennis club member, but I am interested in the rights and wrongs of this issue and its effect on the community. It was unfortunate that Project A, such an important local issue, was not a separate item on the agenda. It was not possible therefore to ascertain in advance whether or not it was going to be discussed at the meeting. It transpired references were made to the project piecemeal throughout the meeting, with Cllr Denis Spooner making an important contribution as a councillor. During the rst quarter hour, allocated to the public for questions, Philip Noakes also made some important points. I’m afraid that there was more heat than light, but I believe that it was said that the public will be given the opportunity to scrutinise the process in a public meeting at some point. I do hope that that is the case. Clive Richards, Bearsted

Market needs your help BEARSTED Country Market has been part of the village for 43 years, selling homemade goods, produce, plants and craft every Saturday morning in the WI Hall. It has been closed since lockdown, and market members are now too few for it to re-open. Unless more producers come forward it will have to close for good. At least six more producers are needed. More home bakers are required, as well as a market manager. It is a co-operative and part of the West Kent Country Market Society. Market producers have to have a food hygiene certicate and follow country market guidelines for packaging and all other rules, including new COVID-19 guidelines and health and safety. If anyone wishes to take on the

responsibility for the running of the market or wishes to become a producer, please contact Janice Baker at Sue Chartier, via email

School needs governors I AM writing on behalf of the governing body of Greenelds Community Primary School, Oxford Road, Maidstone. We are urgently seeking four new governors to support the school’s work in serving local children and families. Despite concerted efforts, we have struggled to recruit during the pandemic as people's attention has, understandably, been focused elsewhere. We would especially value applications from people with knowledge, skills or experience in any of the following areas: l Local business / enterprise / public sector; l Local community groups;. l Sports clubs; l Governance of a school, academy or other organisation; l Education sector including teaching; l Property and estate management; l Human resources / personnel. The governing body meets six times per year (Tuesdays at 4.30pm for two hours, currently via Zoom). Governors occasionally visit the school to meet with staff and monitor progress towards the school’s development plan. No prior experience is required, as free training and ongoing support are provided. Anyone interested in nding out more about the Greenelds governor vacancies is invited to contact us via email at clerk@green Thank you. Vanessa Stevens, clerk to governors

Vicars getting poor deal RECENTLY, Downs Mail President Dennis Fowle wrote on the sad fact that many beautiful Church of England churches in our villages are being closed, vicarages sold off and vicars given a roving commission. Most think of our lovely old villages as having a church, a pub and a cricket team. Although attendances are down, there are times when folk do go and sometimes need the vicarious assurance and help of those enabled to give it. It has been reported the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have repeatedly told us that they love parishes and parish churches. "I am passionate that the parish is essential," the Archbishop of Canterbury told the Church Times recently. So why they are supporting a change in church law to make it easier to close them and deprive vicars of their living? I have friends who were regular churchgoers, but not anymore, as they are upset at the way the laity have been completely ignored by the hierarchy. Alan Wallace, via email


Working to take our recovery forward

OCTOBER is usually one of the busiest months of the year for me. Conservative party conference is always the rst weekend of the month, which involves back-to-back speeches and meetings. This is followed by MPs returning to Westminster as the work of Parliament gets underway once again. There is also the task of keeping my children entertained over October half term. Like workplaces across the country, Parliament is beginning to look and feel more like normal, with more MPs allowed in the House of Commons and face-to-face meetings. There are signs of recovery across the economy, with the employment rate back to pre COVID-19 rates, wages rising, and the UK having the fastest growth in the G7. We had to take difficult decisions during the pandemic, and tough decisions are needed again to help the NHS and social care recover from the last 18 months. That's why we're introducing our Health and Care Levy to beat the backlogs in the NHS and deliver reform of social care. It’s not just in health and social care that we're determined to build back better. I’ve been meeting local businesses – including MEP Ltd and Capital Cleaning Supplies in Aylesford – to hear how Government support for jobs is helping our local economy recover from the pandemic. As part of my new job as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, I'll be working hard to boost growth and jobs as we recover

By Helen Whately MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent from the pandemic. I’m determined to see plans to level up the economy benet communities across the country, including in Faversham and Mid Kent. As Exchequer Secretary, I’ll be helping to drive economic growth, more jobs with better pay, and higher productivity – helping to raise living standards for everyone. I’ll also be helping to deliver our commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve our net zero targets. Extra investment has helped deliver record numbers of police officers in Kent, and I’ve set out my vision for a better local bus network as part of a £5 billion funding boost for bus and cycle links across the country. The risks from COVID-19 have not gone away. We face difficult months, but our vaccine rollout has given us cause for optimism. Please do take up the offer of a booster jab if you are contacted by the NHS. Together, we can keep Covid under control and keep our recovery on track.

Wounded by lack of care “WHAT’S going on?” I asked myself as I left my GP’s surgery. As an 81-year-old who, in the past two years, has undergone open heart surgery, bowel cancer surgery and a stoma reversal operation, all successful, I have become very familiar with excellent, selfless work carried out by our hospitals and the staff within them. But when I suffered a painful, oozing abscess on my hip, I was ill-prepared for the lack of treatment afforded by my own GP’s surgery. This is a surgery boasting four doctors, a practice manager, two advanced nurse practitioners, a paramedic practitioner, two practice nurses, two health care assistants and 15 back-up staff. The doctor I saw looked at the makeshift dressing from a distance, saw that it was plainly in need of a new dressing and, without any examination whatsoever, prescribed antibiotics. I asked if he could let me have some dressings so I could dress the wound myself. He said the surgery didn’t have dressings and told me to go

By Peter Edwards Retired Journalist

to hospital. I emailed my dissatisfaction to the practice and received a reply stating: “Unfortunately our clinicians are not licensed to treat, clean or dress wounds of any sort, therefore we do not have the relevant equipment available.” It does beg the question: “What are they able to do for their patients in need?” So what should I do? Make a formal complaint as my son suggests and risk having to find a new doctor? What would you do? l Peter Edwards is now in the helpful care of consultants at Maidstone Hospital. He has been told he is in need of an operation.


EITH Yardy, the barrister who recently regained his licence after a drink-driving conviction, has had a tough year. First, he was ned £500 by the Bar Standards Board for the offence and then retired from the Bar in the summer after 33 years. His former professional home at Maidstone Chambers is in for a change, too, having merged with the much larger Birmingham-based Cornwall Street Barristers.


ELEN Whately, the MP for Mid Kent, enjoyed a sideways reshuffle to the post of Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, seen as a place where future cabinet ministers are groomed. While Home Secretary Priti Patel is undoubtedly evidence of an upward trajectory, the recently sacked housing and local government minister Robert Jenrick is not.


HEN The Boundary Commission reports back on the possible new “Weald of Kent” constituency, the resultant Maidstone and Malling patch has Liberal Democrats salivating. Should Maidstone Conservative MP Helen Grant ght it, the Lib Dems are convinced she would be vulnerable. How so? A quick perusal of the data would suggest, on paper at least, Mrs Grant would sail back into the House of Commons on an 18,000 majority over Labour in second.


O the Gallagher Stadium to watch Maidstone Borough Council attempt to avenge a narrow defeat at the hands of Kent Police in a charity football match. Sadly, the nimbler, hungrier and more skilful boys in blue triumphed once more, with an emphatic score of 8-0. Head of Regeneration at MBC John Foster was later spotted “limping around” council HQ looking rather sorry for himself.


WILL not embarrass the local public sector press officer, now in his late 40s, who was arrested as a teenager trying to gain access, drunk, to the away end of Brighton and Hove Albion’s former home, the Goldstone Ground. After being denied access, he left it 30 seconds and tried again, but was nabbed by Sussex’s nest. He was released into the wild at 3am to wander the streets of Brighton. He never re-offended.


EWLY-WEDS Michael and Joanne Head eschewed presents when they married recently, asking friends and family to donate cash to the Bearsted Woodland Trust. At the last count they were a whisker away from their £1,000 target.

Chin chin!

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For a free appraisal call 0843 557 4080 Downs Mail is published by Mail Publications Ltd (President — Dennis Fowle, Chairman — Claire Procter, Editor — Simon Finlay) 40 CountryHouseHomesS56.indd 2 Forge House, Bearsted 1 Green Business Park, Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent ME14 4DT 01622 630330 email: Printed by Mortons.

29/05/2019 16:07