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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone East Edition July 2012 No.183 Town ‘jewels’ may be sold

THE original home of Maid- stoneMuseum could be sold off to raise cash for capital projects. Chillington House, in St

Faiths Street, was built in 1562 for the local MP. It later became a science and art school before opening as a museum. In recent years, it has been

used by KCC’s adult education service but is currently empty. Selling off the building is just one of a number of fundraising options being considered in the council’s asset management plan for the next three years. Other ideas include letting

out the entrance foyer of the Town Hall, renting out the va- cant first floor of Maidstone House, home to the Maidstone Gateway, and transferring com-

munity centres such as Beech- wood Hall and Fant Hall to local community groups. Some of the suggestions have caused outrage among the coun- cil’s opposition LibDem group, who described them as “selling off the family jewels”. They also believe the ruling Tories are pushing forward plans without giving them sufficient thought. However, council leader Chris Garland said: “We are living in a completely different local gov- ernment financial situation.We have to look at all angles to maximise our asset revenue.” The council’s assets areworth £79.9m and include both free- hold and leasehold properties. However, their value is falling in line with property prices.

AMAIDSTONE childminder has been rated outstand- ing just six months after she started her business. Jenny Matthews(24) started up JenniWren’sChild-

care in October last year. But the government’s education watchdog has

given her the highest grade in the very first inspec- tion at herAlbanyStreethome. Jenny said: “Once you have registeredwith Ofsted they come out within the first six months for an initial assessment. I had read awful things about this, with some inspectors saying they don’tgiveanoutstanding rating on the first visit. “But thewomanwhovisitedmesaid shehadto give

methe top mark because I deserved it. I did 10 times more than I needed tomeet their expectations.” Ofsted inspector Beryl Witheridge paid glowing ref- erence to Jenny’s “in-depth knowledge of each child and their unique needs”, adding that this “is used to promote their learning andwelfare exceptionally”. “The exciting and highly-stimulating activities

RESIDENTS in a newly-built Kingswood cul-de-sac are kicking up a stink about overflowing drains. Barely had the paint dried on

theOrbit Group’sdevelopment of 18 homes in Peter Pease Close than sewage started rising in the gardens of one house and a two- storey block of flats, with the stench reaching the entire area.

planned encourage children to explore, investigate and make excellent progress in all areas of learning. Their independence skills are generally developing verywell.” Jenny,who cooks children meals and reg- ularly takes themonday trips,wasalso lauded forher “exemplary relationships”with parents.

One of the worst affected has

been Cassie Streatfield, whose garden twice flooded with sewage in the space of three months.

However, one neighbour has

had her toilet overflow into the bathroom while another found sewage rising through the plug- hole in the bath. Cassie’s neighbour Samantha

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01622 840272 The decline in capital values

has coincided with an ambi- tious programme of flagship capital projects, including im- provements to Maidstone High Street, the development of the Maidstone Museum East Wing and improvements to Mote Park, which have attracted ex- ternal investment of around £4.5m. The current capital pro- gramme includes provision for borrowing, but the council is still debt free. LibDem leader Cllr Fran Wil-

son said: “We need to be taking a more rounded view of how to raise capital and how to make our buildings work for us. We should not simply be selling off buildings to raise funds if

New childminder Jenny is already outstanding

Red tape scuppers football day

THE compensation culture has forced the cancellation of a popular football festival for the first time in 18 years. The Penenden Heath Festi-

val, founded byMaidstone Bor- ough Council in 1994, has attracted teams from all over Kent.

More than 40 teams of young- P6

sters, with their families and friends, piled into Penenden Heath for a day of football fun, supplementedwith a travelling fairground and stalls. Now, for the first time, Bearsted Football Club, which took over the festival 15 years ago, has been forced to pull the plug, because of problems meeting health and safety requirements. Club general secretary Roy Benton, from Snodland, said: “Bearsted Football Club has worked diligently over the years to provide a fun day out for friends, family and the local community, but sadly the club hasn’t sufficient officers to fulfil new criteria set by the council.” Mr Benton said the club had

P8 Homes are a drain on residents

May, who lives with her two sons Swayley (five) and Preston (three), said: “We don’t get the sewage coming up in our garden but when it rises next door, the smell is terrible.” Cassie,who lives with her three

sons and a daughter, thinks her six-year old son could have been in contact with contaminated grass, leading to a two-day stay in hospital that included a spell in intensive care, with suspected blood poisoning. Cassie said: “The second time

the garden flooded, it was at least three weeks before Orbit came and jet cleaned and disinfected it – and that was the day after my son came home from hospital.” Many of the residents are fami-

lies with small children andP6

been granted a certain amount of leeway in recent years with regard to parking, but the coun- cil’s insistence on parking re- strictions on the heath and the approach roads this year were impossible to implement. He said: “These are public highways and some of them do not have yellow lines. The number of marshalls we


Torch concert A FREE concert in Mote Park will mark the arrival of the Olympic Touch in Maidstone on July 19. Formore informa- tion on the event, as well as other news, see the council- sponsored 12-page Borough Update in the central pages.

Bearsted parish members resign P24

Royals open Grove Green orchard P33

Finest selection of home-grown seasonal fruit & vegetables Traditional home made breads and cakes

Find us in the Royal Star Arcade every Friday and Saturday PJ’S

Farm Shop 07984 623424

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