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Council row over ‘horrible’ flagpoles

THE flagpoles in Jubilee Square have been criticised by Maidstone Council’s own plan- ning committee. The council was forced to apply for retro- spective planning permission for the three flagpoles at theHigh Street and two flagpoles outside the museum in St Faith’s Street after it emerged that the authority had erected them without proper consent. Committee member, Cllr Martin Cox felt

they were out of keeping with the new-look Jubilee Square. He said: “The bases of these are absolutely horrible. If they are temporary flagpoles there is a marvellous thing called a hole that we could put these in and then take them out when they are not being used. “I don’t think the design has been thought



Great recipe for

family night out Cinderella – Leeds Amateur Dramatic Society

DIRECTOR Lesley Finlay must be praised for a wonderful evening of family fun. David Hoxey’s musical direc-

tion; Helen Morley’s impres- sively creative set design; the wardrobe team’s splendid cos- tumes andwhoever created the impressive transformation of the pumpkin into a Rolls Royce all made a very positive back- stage contribution to Leeds’ production of Cinderella – not forgetting the lights and sound and Rodney Bridges’ piano. And what a cast Lesley had!

Felicity Poulter’s Cinders and Kaylie Cairns’ Prince Charming were so lovely and smiley, so right for the parts. Lovis and Wallace were a superb double act as the ugly sisters and Dan Woolvern’s Buttons was so at home on stage. Alice Chapman was warm

and kind as the fairy god- mother, leading her very con- vincing band of fairies. Steele and Poulter were Germaine and Greer, two of the original femi- nists, and Angus Poulter was very frightening and strong as The Demon King, with his gang of panto ASBOs. They were all just as we wanted them – Baron Hardup, the king and queen, Dandini and the Major Domo, and Pud- dles the dog. This was a truly tremendous community project – we all loved it. Congratulations, Leeds.

Roof lights ‘obtrusive’ THE proposed introduction of four roof lights to a rear exten- sion of a listed building near Boxley village was blocked. Maidstone Council claimed

Isobel Jones’ plan for Barn Cot- tage in Boxley Road would con- stitute “a large and obtrusive intrusion into the roof”.

The High Street flag poles

through.We should hide the flags away when they are not in use and not give skateboarders another thing to grind against.” Cllr Richard Ash said: “Maybe there could

have been granite bases to go with the sur- face, but maybe it cost a lot ofmoney. I rather like themmyself.” Members were split on whether to grant

the flagpoles retrospective permission, with four votes for, four votes against and two ab- stentions. Cllr Richard Lusty used his chairman’s casting vote to grant the scheme planning permission, but hit out at the council’s initial decision to erect the flagpoles without the necessary consent. He said: “I really think that Maidstone Council should have got their act together. I am very disturbed that this is retrospective. We will refer this to the chief executive and relevant portfolio holder on the cabinet.”

All change at the Hazlitt

MAIDSTONE Council is look- ing for outside bidders to run its popular Hazlitt Theatre in Earl Street. The theatre, named after

William Hazlitt, the famous es- sayist born in Maidstone, opened in 1955 and seats 350 people. As well as hosting tour- ing music, drama and comedy productions, it provides a venue for local music and drama, lectures, presentations and pantomimes. Members believe that an ex- perienced company is better

placed to take the theatre for- ward, given its value to the local community, rather than the cur- rent cash-strapped council, and has issued an invitation to ten- der.

However, secrecy surround-

ing the proposal has left staff, as well as potential users of the theatre, in limbo, until the out- come is decided. Cllr Malcolm Greer, cabinet member for economic develop- ment, agreed that the services provided by the Hazlitt Theatre and Arts Centre could go out to

Zumba cash for charity

CURVES Senacre have held a series of fundraising events to raise £1,475 for Breast Cancer Care. The women-

only gym held a zumbathon at the Maidstone Skills and Com- munity Centre, members filled Smarties tubes with 20p coins, andarafflewas held. Phillipa Gill is picturedwith the cheque. Newmemberswhojoined Curves during themonth

also had the service feewaived in exchange for a do- nation to BCC. Other activities includedgamesonthe circuit and Pink Fridays. Anyone whowould like to knowmore about Curves

can call 01622 662411 or go to www.curvesmaid-

tender in April last year. The process took place and it was open to any company, trust, charity or members of staff to submit a tender to provide the services. Two tenders have now been received. Cllr Greerisexpectedtomake

a decision on the future of the theatre, probably before the end of March. A spokesman for the council

said: “The managers of theHAC have been fully engaged in the discussions about its future.”

Trust gardeners’ project GARDENERS from the Blackthorn Trust have started work on a neglected patch of land close to Maidstone bus station. The grassland, which once housed Shorn the Sheep in Romney Place, has been left to grow wild since Shorn moved on to pastures new. But following talks between the Town Centre Management and the Blackthorn Trust, a project has been put together which will give the team a challenge and make Maidstone a prettier place. Co-workers from the trust, which helps people suffering from long-term physical or mental ill- ness learn new skills and build their confidence and self-esteem, have pulled out all the weeds and put in new shrubs, plants and flowers. Bulbs and hedgerows have been put in place

and there are plans to add some hops, as a tribute to Kent’s heritage. The volunteers normally work at the Blackthorn Garden in Barming, but welcomed the chance to transfer their skills to the town centre setting.

Home extension finally approved

A PROPOSED rear extension in Detling has been given planning permission at the third time of asking. The two previous proposals to

erect single storey extensions at 28 Hockers Lane were refused due to loss of neighbouring pri- vacy from the inclusion of roof lights. But the latest proposal, with the removal of a bedroom, was considered acceptable by the planning committee despite neighbour Mr Sinden claiming that the scheme would still be intrusive. Michael Tamsett, speaking on behalf of applicant Tim Batche-

lor, who has lived in the village since the age of seven, said: “Mrs Batchelor’s parents have recently moved to Detling to be near their daughter and grand- children. “With two very young children

on the scene, Mr and Mrs Batch- elor now require a family-size dwelling. Three to four bedroom houses in Detling are very ex- pensive and there are no afford- able houses within the village. The family have two options: move to another, less expensive area or enlarge their property and retain the family ties. “The proposal to allow a long

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standing, existing resident the opportunity to stay within the community of their upbringing to raise a family should be en- couraged.” Committee member, Cllr Richard Ash supported the pro- posal. He said: “I can’t see any major harm in this proposal. Hockers Lane was developed in the 1930s. Houses built in this era are quite small and many need to be extended to accom- modate the facilities we need these days.” The proposal was given unan-

imous backing by the planning committee.

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