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MAIDSTONE’s popular river festivalwill go ahead this year, after an appeal for funding paid dividends. The future of the festival hung in the bal-

ance when sponsorship and financial back- ing failed tomaterialise, but organiser Martin Cox has decreed: “The show must go on”. He emphasised the value of the event –

the largest annual leisure gathering in the county town – after a survey showed the town centre economy benefited by more than £1m over the festival weekend. Mr Cox, whose father was one of the orig-

inal organisers 36 years ago, said: “Maid- stone Council carried out market research among some 600 people, asking how much they spent and what parts they enjoyed the most. They reckoned there was more than £1m-worth of business brought into the town on the festival weekend.” Although most of the activity is centred

Maidstone East Edition June 2013 No.194 River festival sails on, but needs cash

along the River Medway, Mr Cox said he would have liked to extend activities into Jubilee Square – but the funds simply did not allow it this year. He said: “Fortunately, someone has stepped forward and offered to cover any losses, but we need to get more people on board so we can make it even bigger and better and make a profit, not a loss.” Mr Cox revealed he had plans for “a dra-

matic new element” to the festival this year, in an entirely new location, but said: “Everything costs money”. He promised there would be no cutback

to the firework display, one of the highlights of the weekend, and the usual funfairs and concessions were now signing up to take part in the festival, on July 27. He hoped events would be staged at the Gallagher Stadium to complement the festi- val, and organisers were busy with arrange-

ments for the main “fun” event – the raft race. This year, the theme is Invaders – whether

they be space invaders, Vikings, or Nor- mans.Mr Cox said he hoped there could be themed races, leading up to a grand finale. It costs £50 to enter the raft race and

teams must comprise a minimum of four and maximum of eight people. For details and an application form, call Martin on 01622 6688945. Organisers are also looking at holding a

food fair in front of theArchbishop’s Palace. Mr Cox said: “It really will be a day for all

the family.” It costs around £38,000 to stage the river festival and the council covers the costs of policing, administration, licensing and health and safety. Mr Cox, who is a Maidstone borough councillor, organises the event in a personal capacity.

School celebrates second top rating

PUPILS, staff andgovernors atVal- ley Park School, Maidstone, are celebrating their second outstand- ing rating by Ofsted. The inspectors were impressed

by the strong leadership whichhad led to continuing rapid improve- ment.HeadVic Ashdown, the chief executive officer and governing body have extremelyhigh expecta- tions of how good the school should be, said the report. The secondary school in Hunts-

man Lane, which has over 1,200 pupils, was judged outstanding in 2010 and became an academy a year later. It is federated with In- victa Girls’ Grammar School. At their recent visit, the Ofsted

team said students’ achievement was outstanding, and attainment was above average. The report said the range of ac-

tivities that were part of the ex- pressive arts specialism helped to build self-esteem and confidence. “Students have a thirst for learn-

ing and readily subscribe to ‘the Valley Parkway’ which is highly ef-

Joyful Stones gain league promotionP3

Valley Park pupils were praised for their excellent behaviour Mr Ashdown said: “This is a fan-

fectiveinfostering talent,” said the inspectors, adding that excellent behaviourandattitudeswereakey factor in successful learning. The sixth form was judged as

outstanding, with students choos- ing fromawide rangeof vocational and academic courses that helped to equipthemfor further education and working lives. Teachers knew their studentswell and planned to meet all abilities and needs.

Celebrate Maidstone honours heroes P4

tastic achievement for the whole school: students, parents, staff, and everyone associated with us. We'vealways strived to beaschool at the heart of the community, one of whichthey canbeproud.Wefeel this report is a true vindication of all the effort put in over so many years to make Valley Park School the unique place it is.”

Ofsted: special report P44-45

Mote Park is ‘victim of own success’ P8

Pupils’ priority

plan dropped KCC HAS backtracked on a con- troversial proposal that would have given children in Bearsted more chance of getting into Thurnham Infant School than those in Thurnham. The idea to give preference to families in a “priority area” was opposed by parents of some pre-school aged children and those planning to start a family, many of whom attended the Thurnham Parish Council meeting in January. From September 2014, places

at Thurnham Infants, in The Landway, will be allocated to children in the following prior- ity order: those in local author- ity care; those with a sibling at the school; families who can demonstrate a medical or other reason to be at that school; those who live nearest the school.

Roseacre Junior School, which is on the same site as the infants’ school, will have a pri- ority area but this will only be- come relevant after it has taken all pupils moving up from Thurnham Infants plus

P6 01622 750733 10 St Faiths Street Maidstone

LIVES, TOGETHER Visit: CHANGING OAK AND PINE The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102



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