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River festival sinks but carnival set to return

Hostel plan for

former hotel MAIDSTONE Council has bought a hotel for £600,000 to use for emer- gency accommodation. The authority has submitted a planning application to convert Aylesbury House, at 56 London Road, into a 12-bedroom hostel for people it has a duty to ac- commodate when they become homeless, such as families with children. A spokesman said it would

save the council money. “Often placements are made outside the borough, which impacts nega- tively on the health and well- being of those households,” said a supporting statement, which added that the hotel was no longer viable. The council was unable to re-

veal how much the building wouldcosttoconvertormain- tain as the development was going out to tender. The council’s planning committee will deter- mine the application.

Tinnitus help

group dates ATINNITUS support group set up in Maidstone by local deaf charity Hi Kent, to support people affected by the condition has been a great success. The group meets monthly at the United Reformed Church in Week Street and gives people the oppor- tunity to meet others with similar problems, share coping strategies and talk to people who understand what it is like to live with tinnitus. Meeting dates for the remainder

of 2014 are: February 26, March 26, April 23, May 21, June 25, July 16, September 17, October 29 and No- vember 26. For details call Hi Kent on 01622 691151, textphone 07795 951466 or email

Police training

KENT Police Authority has been given planning permission to erect two specialist training buildings at the police’s training centre in CoverdaleAvenue, Maidstone. The units will offer facilities for public order and firearms training.

36 Maidstone Town March 2014 Pupils help to improve lives

PUPILS at Maidstone Grammar School have raised more than £1,500 for local charities through a series of service projects. The young people were members of MGS Interact, a club for those who

want to connect with others in their community. Club member John Haines is pictured presenting a cheque for £1,000 to

Emma Halpin, the Blackthorn Trust community fundraiser. Emma said: “This generous amount will help rebuild someone’s life.” MGSInteractwas set up in 2002 under the guidance of The Rotary Club

of Maidstone Riverside. The presentation held at the school in Barton Road also included mem- bers of the Interact and Riverside Rotary Club.

THE plug has been pulled on the long-standing Maidstone River Festival – but that could mean the revival of an even older town-wide celebration. Maidstone Carnival, which in-

volved a parade with floats from community groups and businesses, was founded almost 100 years ago, but fizzled out after its heyday in the 1970s. Now, organisers behind the River

Festival say they hope it can be re- vived on a bigger and better scale, starting and ending at the town’s Mote Park, with a funfair and Mardi Gras. The River Festival peaked in

2009, when it celebrated its 30th an- niversary by expanding from a day to a full-weekend festival with a firework finale. However, being entirely depen-

dant on the goodwill and support of volunteers and local sponsors, the festival has struggled during the recession. It was shelved for the Olympics

and Royal Jubilee in 2012, but re- vived on a smaller scale in 2013. Martin Cox, who chaired the

group of volunteers behind the River Festival,warned then that its future was uncertain without sup- port from business sponsors. The economic climate, together

with health and safety issues asso- ciated with the river, mean costs have been rising and administra- tion has become more complex. Last year’s festival was close to

sinking, but Mr Cox managed to salvage things at the 11th hour. The River Festival was tradition-

ally held on the last Saturday in July, during the school holidays, and is thought to have pulled up to 10,000 visitors into the county town each year. The council is actively looking at

ways of promoting events in the town centre – and making greater use of the river as an amenity and attraction. Cllr John Wilson, chair of the community and leisure serv- ices committee, said: “We want to see many events in Maidstone and are looking at opportunities to bring them together in a festival.”

Driver banned

LOUISE Spear (30), of Linton Road, Loose, was banned from driving for two years after admitting drink driving following an incident in Terrace Road, Maidstone. She was driving a Ford Puma

and when stopped, gave a breath test of 113mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg. Spear must also carry out 80

hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months, pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Flats consent School making progress Lighting allowed

TOVIL primary school is making “reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures”, ac- cording to its latest Ofsted report. The inspection report – the third

since Archbishop Courtenay Pri- mary School was placed in special measures – noted that five teachers had been replaced and a new head appointed in January 2014. It follows a damning report by Ofsted in November 2012, which identified that improvements at the Eccleston Road schoolwere needed in the key areas of governance; leadership and teaching. This time, the inspector reported: “Scrutiny of pupils’ work and

analysis of the school’s assessment information show that progress has begun to accelerate. Consistent, rapid and sustained progress is most evident in the lower part of the school. “Teaching has continued to im-

prove and most teaching that was observedwas good. They added that “behaviour in lessons and around the school has improved” and “the new senior leadership team and interim execu- tive board are providing effective leadership and management and they are determined to improve the school rapidly”.

THE go-ahead has been given to convert first and second floor of- fices in Medway Street, Maidstone, into 22 flats. Best Homeswas given consent to provide six two-bed flats, eight one-bed flats and eight studio flats at Idenden House under Govern- ment guidelines allowing conver- sions without planning permission.

PLANNING permission was granted for external lighting on Maidstone Town Hall. The Town Team project, funded

by Maidstone Council, will light up the central bays to the Jubilee Square and High Street facades. The committee unanimously ac- cepted the proposal.

Trees ‘affecting TV’

WORK is proposed for six pro- tected lime trees at 16 Foxglove Rise, Ringlestone, because neigh- bours claim they are interrupting their television reception. Maid- stone Council will determine.

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