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Museum chief

on the move MAIDSTONE’s museum and heritage manager Simon Lace is to leave his position. After 10 years in the job, Mr

Lace was due to leave his post on November 15 as part of a cost-cutting restructuring move. The council decided some months ago it needed to reduce the cost of its culture and leisure services and has already hived off management of the Hazlitt Theatre to Parkwood Leisure in amove destined to save taxpay- ers £3.2m over the next 15 years. Mr Lace was a key figure in pushing for the museum’s con- troversial east wing extension and has brought numerous spe- cialist exhibitions to the town since it opened two years ago. But his job is to be absorbed

into a new post of cultural serv- ices manager – a position which will entail managing parks and leisure facilities, as well as the council’s cultural assets and events. The post holder will report to

a new head of commercial and economic development, Dawn Hudd, who is due to start work with the council onMonday, De- cember 2. Dawn is currently head of cul-

ture and enterprise at Canter- bury City Council and has extensive public and private sec- tor experience. Maidstone’s regeneration and communities director, Zena Cooke, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Simon for his commitment to the museum and the work he has done and to wish him the very best for the future.” Anappointment is expected to

be made by early in the New Year, according to the council.

Carol concert THE Maidstone Singers’ Carols concert is at St Martin’s Church, Northumberland Road, Shep- way, on December 17 and 18. Tickets for the concert, which

starts at 7.30pm, cost £10, and include refreshments. A collec- tion will be taken for Demelza House hospice. To book, email .uk or call 01622 630016.

Investigation into prison riot

AN investigation is underway after 40 prisoners went on the rampage in Maidstone Prison. Riot units from across the country descended

on the area after fighting broke out among foreign inmates at about 4pm on Saturday, November 3. A spokesman for the Prison Service said the

riot was contained with no one injured and no loss of accommodation. Afterwards, she added: “We treat any act of vi- olence or indiscipline in prison extremely seri- ously and all the ringleaders have been identified. “They have been transferred to other prisons,

put in segregation, and are on a basic regime.” Under this regime, inmates must wear prison uniform and are denied access to TVs and other privileges. They may also face further discipli- nary measures. The prison officers’ union has blamed the riots

on a reduction in staff, caused by cuts of £90m to prison services in recent years. The Prison Service’s spokesman said: “Our current reforms to the prison system will provide better value for taxpayers, while protecting the public and improving the chances of prisoners being rehabilitated.”

Friends set to help church

THEFriendsofAll Saints Church,WestFarleigh,are gearingupfor action. Terry Ayears has been appointed chairman and Jacky Taylor secretary

of the group, aimed at bringing more income into the historic village church,which doubles as a centre for community events. Work has just

been completed on a much- needed car park, which will make parking much easier for social events, as well as for church services, wed- dings, baptisms and funerals. A bank ac-

count has been setupfor any funds raised and the committee is now planning a series of events and money-making schemes. TheFriendswere setupsothat villagers andother people with thewel-

fare of the churchbuilding atheart–evenifnon-churchgoers–can help support its upkeep for the benefit of future generations.

Pupils ‘grow in confidence’

OFSTED inspectors who went to St Margaret’s School in Col- lier Street found that the chil- dren learned well and grew in confidence. Consistency and teamwork

were evident at the school, which was rated good. Pupils were found to get a

good start in reception and con- tinued to make good progress through the school. By the time they leave school, attainment is mostly above average. Teaching was said to be con- sistently good and sometimes outstanding. Teachers made learning interesting and

planned carefully to meet dif- ferent ages and abilities. Behaviour was described as exemplary, and children en- joyed learning and socialising. They were fascinated by the curriculum, and were encour- aged to find things out for them- selves. The head teacher, staff and governors worked together closely, and built well on the school’s success. In order to achieve an out- standing rating, there should be a focus on pupils’ handwriting and presentation skills, as well as data-handling skills.

Crime chief Ann

talks to Forum ANN Barnes, police and crime commissioner for Kent, ad- dressed more than 100 older people at the Maidstone Older Persons’ Forum this month. The forum, run by Voluntary Action Maidstone, also heard from Barbara Hagan,manager of the Maidstone and Malling car- ers project, on the support, in- formation and advice available to carers, and from Sarah Robson at the borough council who con- sulted the group on the council’s initiatives with older people. Peter Spearink’s term as chair-

man of the forum ends in Janu- ary. Anyone who is over 55 and interested in issues affecting older people can apply for the role. Call Voluntary Action Maidstone on 01622 677337 or email

Gatehouse plan A SCHEME has been un- veiled to turn the cemetery gatehouse at Maidstone Graveyard in Sutton Road into a three-bedroom house. Stuart Andersen has sub- mitted a planning applica- tion to restore the vacant grade II listed lodge, which originally provided accom- modation for cemetery staff. The building has been damaged by theweather and will require a thorough restoration project, a sup- porting statement said.

Invitation to get involved in river projects

A NEW project has been launched to give the public greater involvement in waterways schemes in theMaidstone area. An action plan, using ideas from landowners,

local authorities and users, will be drawn up, with the first stretch of water under the micro- scope being the River Len and Loose stream (pictured). Medway Valley Countryside Partnership and

the Environment Agency are working together to produce the action plan, which will contain practical actions, volunteering opportunities and workshops for landowners to promote the river’s wildlife and use. The project’s Mary Tate said: “We would like

to hear from landowners, parish councils, homeowners, user groups and anyone who has

28 South

an interest in the River Len or Loose stream; this is the public’s opportunity to get involved; we are interested in hearing as many ideas as pos- sible to help the rivers achieve their full poten- tial.” Free site visits are also being offered to peo-

ple who own a bit of the River Len or Loose stream, when there will be a chance to discuss possible projects. For details visit To arrange a site visit or for an information leaflet, contact Mary Tate at or call 683695.  The partnership will also be working on the River Bourne, Ditton/East Malling stream, and the River Beult, as well as smaller tributaries on the River Medway.

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