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Maidstone East Edition November 2013 No.199 Churches to offer homeless a bed

CHURCHES are to be used to give the homeless in Maidstone a bed during the coldwinter nights. The Maidstone ChurchesWinter Shelter pilot, which will cost £27,430, isbeing supportedby the borough council, which has to pro- vide B&B places for the homeless during the extreme cold. Thechurchproject will offerbeds

for 10 homeless people from De- cember 30 to February 23 in its first year, possibly rising to 12 weeks infuturewinters.Amealwill also be provided. An estimated 20 guests are ex- pected to make use of the church hostels, which will move among participating churches.So far, four churches have offered volunteers

Major Grayson Williams

and venues, including the Salv ation Army in Union Street, St Faith’s, Sta- tionRoad, and Maidstone Baptis t Church in Knightrider Street.Anum-

ber of other churches are support- ive, but have yet to commit. A key driving force has been

MajorGrayson Williams, theleader in Maidstone of The Salvation Army, which has put up £5,800 for the scheme. He is confident that the town’s churches will be able to

mobilise up to 200 volunteers to man the scheme, to complement homeless services in the town. The initiative’s steering group

will start looking for volunteersand a salaried manager and deputy manager to oversee the schemein October. The group’s funding leader,Matt

Clifton, said: “Given the desperate plight of people in Maidstone forced to sleep rough in freezing conditions, there is a determina- tion that another winter must not pass by.” A church shelter for the home-

less that has run in Folkestone for the past four years has helped shape the pilot for Maidstone, where all guests must:

P4 I’ll quit, says Lib Dem chief

FRANWilson has offered to quit as leader of Maidstone’s Lib Dems after concerns were raised behind the scenes by group backbenchers. Cllr Wilson, who has been a member since 1997, has written to her 18 group members to say she plans to stand down at the end of the year and will resign from the council in May 2014, a year before her term as a coun- cillor is due to end' . Her offer of resignation is due

to be discussed by the Lib Dem executive group on October 30. It is not the first time she has

vowed to stand down: on at least two occasions she was per- suaded to carry on. But the feeling in the group is

that this time her resignation will be accepted. Cllr Wilson, who has been trying to carry the burden of leadership while struggling with family problems in recent months, has met with chief executive Alison Broom to discuss her decision and pulled out of a planned meeting with leading Lib Dems Paddy Ash- down and Nick Clegg. Backbenchers have become in- creasingly critical that Cllr Wil-

Picture: Maidstone Media

son has not fought their group’s corner well enough over the rul- ing Conservative group’s pro- posals to build new homes in open countryside, including over 1,000 units proposed in the draft core strategy for the Alling- ton/Barming area. What caused further rows was

the successfulmotion she tabled as a planning committee mem- ber, seconded by her group deputy Tony Harwood, to give the go-ahead to the development of a Sainsbury’s convenience store and eight homes in Loose Road,Maidstone, in September. Therewere objections from 54 residents and North Loose Resi- dents’ Association and it was felt that the Lib Dems should not be seen “doing the Conserva- tives’ dirty work”. Cllr Wilson told Downs Mail

she had made a “proposal” to her group and would not dis- cuss it in public before her group had made a decision. Cllr Wilson, whose husband

John has also been a member of the borough council in the past, has lived in her High Street ward for the past 38 years.

Crowds enjoy disco legends International DJs, a comedy line-up and a funfair completed The So-

the Shapeshifters. Organisers said nearly 10,000 people attended the two-day event.

DISCO divas got down to big bands like the Brand New Heavies and Sister Sledge (right) at Mote Park’s first festival for lovers of club music.

cial, organised byWest Malling DJ Nic Fanciulli. Other performers included the Earth, Wind and Fire Experience and

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Life coach in benefit fraud

A HIGH-profile Maidstone life coach and kung fu teacher has expressed his regret after he ad- mitted aiding and abetting a £28,500 benefit fraud. Lee Jacobs

(36) of Lidsing Road, near Bredhurst, pleaded guilty to helping for- mer partner Hayley Everest (37) of Pochard Close, St Mary’s Island, Chatham, dishonestly claim £28,513 in income sup- port, housing and council tax benefit between July 2009 and April 2011. A black belt in karate, Jacobs

once taught self-defence and self-protection for Medway Council, the authority he helped Everest defraud. Jacobs is a director of Kung

Fu 4 Life, based in King Street, Maidstone, which specialises in wing tsun martial arts, and refers to himself as “Sifu”, which is Cantonese for father or teacher. In one of his online boasts, he says he can help peo- ple “navigate life challenges with ease”. The fraud centres on the fact Jacobs was not declared as Everest’s partner when they lived together and raised five children in Gillingham. He told Downs Mail their

time together was riddled with financial problems, due to the travails of his life-coaching and kung fu company WT Leader- ship, which was eventually dis- solved in February 2012. This followed the dissolution

two years earlier of another of his companies, Martial Arts School of Excellence. He

Kent cyclists most at risk in Maidstone

Delay of re-opening of river towpath


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