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Theatre company takes over at Hazlitt

A NATIONWIDE theatre company has taken over management ofMaidstone’s pop- ular Hazlitt Theatre and Arts Centre. Parkwood Theatres began a 15-year con-

tract to operate the 350-seat theatre and Ex- change Studio, in Earl Street, on behalf of Maidstone Council, on October 1. As well as upgrading facilities, Parkwood

will be introducing new shows and acts, whilst continuing to support many of the existing ones. The company will focus on community

use of the theatre and also provide the out- reach community activities such as the Maidstone MELA and Proms in the Park. Parkwood Theatres is part of Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading leisure management companies, which operates 84 facilities on behalf of 25 local authority clients and employs more than 4,500 peo- ple.

Bid to fell tree to

boost wildlife PLANNING consent has been granted to fell a protected horn- beam tree in Walderslade to help a garden become more “wildlife friendly”. Maidstone Council gave per- mission for Vicki Barningham to axe the tree at 26 Alexandra Green after her application claimed the garden did not re- ceive any sunlight after 1pm due to four trees shading it. A statement said: “We are landscaping our garden and a focal point of this is to make it wildlife friendly. The garden needs sunlight. A thriving wildlife garden will be more beneficial to the ecosystem than a single tree.”

A RESIDENT of a retirement home in Maidstone says the bor- ough council took four months simply to dismiss his complaint. John Evenden, from Mote House, called the council in June to complain about five flood- lights on the borough council’s building across the park, which were regularly left on and shone into thewindows of cottages and apartments at Audley Mote House Retirement Village. Mr Evenden says his complaint

was passed between four mem- bers of the borough council’s

The company’s portfolio includes the

Winter Gardens Pavilion and the 664-seat Playhouse Theatre in Weston-super-Mare and The Hawth in Crawley, which seats 855 in the main auditorium and 146 in a sepa- rate studio space. Gary Roden, managing director of Park-

wood Theatres, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to operate the Hazlitt Arts Centre and look forward to bringing the local community a wide range of entertain- ment events, diverse cultural programmes, and a calendar of special events that will draw in new audiences and engage fully with the community at large.” Maidstone Council’s cabinet member for economic and commercial development, Malcolm Greer, said: “Parkwood’s business plan was the best for theatre goers and the tax payer. I am confident that Parkwood will deliver a noticeable improvement to

Classic cars take in Kent countryside

AMAGNIFICENT collection of 60 classic cars, includ- ing a 1930 Lea Francis Hyper Replica, a 1936 Riley Lynx15/6,a1952Morgan, several immaculateEType Jaguars,aLanciaDeltaIntegrale,a1965JensenCV8, three Citroen 2CVs and two Aston Martins left the Mecure Great Danes Hotel at Hollingbourne for the Blackpalfrey MotorClub ofKent's annual Tour ofKent. The easily navigable route, by marked maps and

“tulip” junction diagrams, wound its way south east- wards through the beautiful countryside toNewRom- ney Station for coffee, where two steam trains were brought to theplatformtothedelight of the car drivers and their passengers. The route then took driverswest throughmore coun-

try lanes, through Rye and onto Bodiam Castle for lunch. After lunch, the cars headed back north, still in bril- liant sunshine, towards the Mercure Great Danes

An E-type Jaguar and a 1930 Lea Francis Hyper Replica at Bodiam Castle on the Tour of Kent

Hotel, where most crews made the most of some pleasant company for an hour or two, whilst enjoying their tea and sandwiches. ConcoursAwardswere presentedtotheimmaculate

1960Anglia105EofPeterAlexanderandSarah Nunn, of Hythe – and a special award, for the car the con- cours judge would most like to take home was pre- sented to Tim Harrington, of Gillingham, for his 1982 Lancia Beta Coupe. The event raised more than £800, which was do- nated to the Demelza Hospice for Children.

Four-month wait over lights complaint

staff, without being resolved. He told the Downs Mail: “This dispute could have been recon- ciled within a few days if com- mon sense had prevailed. “These lights shine directly

into our living quarters and are not only a pollution of the night sky but also an intrusion into our right to a stressless existence.” In desperation, Mr Evenden

called the council in August to speak with chief executive Ali- son Broom about the problem, but was told, in her absence, that an investigation was in hand.

THE outpatients department at Maidstone Hospi- tal has been given two new vital signs monitors, by theMaidstone Hospital League of Friends. The machines cost £2,200 each, and provide a

quick and efficient way to check a patient’s vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse and tem- perature, prior to other treatment. Outpatientmanager Sara Pizzy said: “We are ex- tremely grateful to the League of Friends for their continued support and generosity. These vital signsmachines will be extremely useful and will be of benefit to many of our patients. They will help us to monitor patients more quickly, with very accurate results.” The new monitors connect via wi-fi to auto- matically link the information they gather to a pa-

26 East Now– another two months’ on

– he has been told that the lights pose no nuisance. A borough council spokesman

told the DownsMail: “We inves- tigated the complaint and found there was no statutory nuisance.” Mr Evenden said: “The letters

from the council pinpoint the ab- solute waste of people’s time and resources of council staff that could have been used more effi- ciently. “All that should have been

done was for the polluting lights to be re-positioned downwards.”

Hospital welcomes friends’ gift of monitors

Quiz with spin HARRIETSHAM in Bloom, The NewAllington Players and Six- penny Piece are getting together for Mixed Doubles. The evening starts with a one-act play set in the 70s by Lynn Brittney about a tennis club trying to run a quiz. The audience will then take part in their own quiz, based around music. Teams of six to eight are in-

vited to take part, and light re- freshments will be provided by Harrietsham in Bloom. Guests are invited to bring any other drinks and nibbles they require. The event is in Harrietsham village hall at 7.30pm on Fri- day, November 8. Tickets are £5 from Andrew Rogers on 859352 or Janetta Sams on 859412. The event will raise money

for Harrietsham in Bloom, The NewAllington Players and Six- penny Piece’s chosen charity, the Motor Neurone Disease As- sociation.

tient’s electronic record. Between May 2012 and April 2013, the Maid-

stone Hospital League of Friends spent £231,235 on equipment forMaidstone Hospital. Items they have bought include a cardiac monitor, urology ultrasound equipment, wheelchairs and a paedi- atric jaundice monitor).

Birch tree removal THE Danefield Court Residents Association has been given the go-ahead to remove a birch tree near Danefield Court, Church Lane, provided a replacement tree is planted.

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service levels at the Hazlitt Arts Centre and reduce the bottom line cost for Maidstone council tax payers. This will be achieved through driving participation and atten- dance and reducing costs through enhanced buying power that Parkwood is able to offer. “Our existing theatre staff are first class

and patrons need not worry; they will still see many of the familiar faces currently working at the theatre.” Staff wishing to transfer their employ-

ment to Parkwood were assured of the same terms and conditions of employment as they had before, he said. In the first year, Parkwood intends to

spend £45,290 on replacing IT equipment and hardware, technical equipment and the box office system. Ongoing investment over the course of the contract will see the re- placement of additional equipment while maintaining the venue.

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