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‘Dogs and cows don’t mix’ Continued from page one

the dog walkers knew about it. Mr Ottaway (pictured,

with Dexter), who has been walking his dogs in the park five mornings a week for the past 10 years, said: "There are two main fields, one 10 acres and the other nine acres. Once they have grazed one field the animals are taken to the other field, in rotation. It's themess left behind by the cows that's a concern. Some dogs roll in it and eat it." But KCC, which runs the park, says it is the

most cost-effective way of grazing and maintaining the land. The notices say: "Grazing these areas keeps the meadows in the best condition and encourages wildlife." Until last August the council used to move its own

small herd of cattle between Manor Park and its other local parks, but costs meant it was no longer viable. Now, it has an arrangementwith a grazier from Round Oak, Sut- ton Valence. Mr Ottaway said: "I don't think it's suitable to have live-

stock in a park where dog walkers and picnickers go. Peo- ple are very wary of livestock." "The grazier has been made aware that the park is highly

used, and there is a gypsy encampment on an adjoining field that could cause problems. He knew of two incidents where walkers' dogs had been mauled by gypsy dogs.” Dog walkers are also worried that Abbey Field, the

lower of the two pastures, will get even muddier in win- ter after the livestock have been on it. But head ranger Tim Bell stressed they would not allow

a field to become that muddy through overgrazing. “It’s all about conservation grazing. Once the sward is at the right heightwe would move them off.We have a lot of ex- perience of managing sites.” Mr Bell said sheep may be brought in to graze later, but

they would first assess how the cattle had done. He added there had been a one-year break from grazing

on the site, and park newcomersmay not have been aware of its grazing history. “It’s nothing new whatsoever,” said Mr Bell. At least one large field would be available for dog walk- ers at any one time, he added.

New garden for hospice

Homes plan unveiled at historic hospital site

PRESTON Hallwould return to its former glory under development plans re- vealed at public consultation meetings. The Grade II-listed building, including the entrance hall, stairs, library, gar-

den and terraces, will be restored. Preston Hall became a hospital complex in 1914 for the treatment of wounded soldiers. It was acquired by Royal British Legion Industries in 1919 along with the surrounding village and became a centre for the treatment, training and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen and their families. Since 1948, themain hall and hospital buildings have been run by the NHS

while RBLI has developed the village to provide support for the Armed Forces, disabled and disadvantaged communities. More than 330 people are employed in RBLI’s manufacturing and social en- terprise activities. But, for several years, the NHS has been preparing to vacate Preston Hall, which is very expensive to run and maintain. The old hutted ward blocks are unsuited to modern healthcare. Many patient services have already moved out to purpose-built facilities and the hall and ward blocks have been in- creasingly used for office accommodation. Services including podiatric surgery, South East DriveAbility and the wheelchair assessment service will be relocated before the NHS leaves the site in March next year. By then, the NHS and RBLI hope to have gained planning permission for

318 dwellings on their land -including 40% of affordable housing. The consultation document said: "The proposed development will bring investment to the local community and contribute to the regeneration of the Aylesford area. A secure future for RBLI and its charitable work in the RBLI will be ensured."

Memorial hope for crash victim Connor

FAMILY and friends of teenage road crash victim Connor Gearey hope to set up a me- morial in his home village of Aylesford. The 18-year-old, who lived with hismother Emma and younger brother Callum, at Ash Close, died after a crash on the Snodland by- pass at around 4.30am on Sunday, July 10. His Peugeot 206 crossed the central verge,

rolled several times and ended up with its front under a lorry parked in a lay-by. Connor died later in hospital but two pas- sengers escaped with minor injuries. In ac- cordance with his wishes, his family agreed to donate his organs to medical research. Connor worked part-time at the Premier

Fish Bar in Aylesford while taking a college course in painting and decorating. His friends have set up a memorial fund

and approached Aylesford Parish Council for permission to set up a commemorative site with a bench and tree at the Hollow play area where he often went. It was suggested this spot could be called Connor’s Corner and could also help to raise awareness of dangers on the road. The council agreed to discuss the proposal at a further meeting.

Bishop of Rochester Rev James Langstaff and Kate Bosley with the new memorial ‘tree’

A RELAXING new land- scaped garden and patient areas were opened at Heart of Kent Hospice, Preston Hall, Aylesford, by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff. He said the improve-

ments would enhance the lives of patients, families and staff. With £350,000 from the Department of Health, the Heart of Kent now has a much larger garden, a gar- den room, more welcom- ing reception, additional

6 Malling

treatment rooms and other improvements - important facilities to increase serv- ice capability to benefit the 300 people it currently supports. Chief executive Kate Bosley praised the profes- sionals who brought the project together. She made special men-

tion of a new sculpture – a tree with leaves, which serveforayearasame- morial to patients who have died and are then presented to relatives.

Tributes to biker THE FAMILY of a motorcy- clist who died following a collisionwith a car at Ayles- ford have paid tribute to a loving family man. Michael Sharp (57) from Chatham, was riding his Honda 1000cc bike towards the village centre, by the Lower Bell pub, when he was in collision with a Vauxhall Corsa at around 11:20am on Thursday, July 28. Paramedics were sadly unable to revive him and he died at the scene. The air ambu- lance also attended. In a joint statement the family said: “Hewas

a dependable, hard-working, loving husband, who loved bikes and riding them and being with his wife and family. He will be dearly missed by his wife, family and friends.”

Visit Downs Mail’s website — Thieves target

four churches FOUR local churcheswere targeted by thieves. St Lawrence Church in

The Street, Mereworh, was broken into during the day and cash was stolen. An attempt was also made to break into or remove a wall-mounted safe. A wall-mounted strong

box at the Church of St Peter and Paul, Church Lane, Trottiscliffe,was broken into and cash taken. An attempt was made overnight to break into a wall-mounted security box in St Micahels Church in Old Church Lane, East Peckham. Thieves broke into the St

Mary’s Church, West Malling, and stole an item.

Santa's grotto THE Rotary Club of Maid- stone will raise funds for local charities at Christ- mas by helping run Santa's grotto at The Mall. Rotarians will be on

duty at the grotto for about six weeks before Christ- mas but need now tomake paid Santa and elves ap- pointments. This will in- volve up to four or five four-hour shifts a week. If necessary


Records Bureau clearances can be applied for. Applications should be

made in writing to: BoxNo SANTA, Downs Mail, Bearsted Green Business Park, Bearsted,Maidstone, ME14 4DT. Last Christmas the Ro-

tary club raised £8,300 for local charities.

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