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News Keeping river


festival afloat Continued from page one Mark said: “The river festival


was never publicised properly or promoted outside the area; it’s as if the council didn’t re- ally want it. Yet it brought a lot of people into the town who spent a lot of money. “There will always be a few


idiots at any large event, but it’s not the boat owners. We have invested tens of thou- sands of pounds into our boats so we’re not likely to put them at risk. Also, most of us are family men and it’s a day out for the whole family, our kids and our grandchildren.” The Medway River Boaters’ Facebook page has more than 130 fans and updates on its page drew more than 3,600 hits in just one week. Mark said:“Without our, and fellow boaters’ input, there would never have been any river festivals. We have drawn tens of thousands of people to Maidstone on the last Saturday in July for 35 years. “Word about this year’s pro-


posal has spread like wildfire. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be a great success.”


downsmail.co.uk


Councillors set to quit ahead of local elections


AT least six council seats will be up for grabs in next month’s bor- ough elections. Three key Tories, plus two Lib


Dems and one inde- pendent councillor, have announced they are to stand down, leaving the arena wide open in what looks like being a fiercely- fought battle. At Harrietsham and Lenham,


Cllr Tom Sams, above, has already stood down for family reasons. Originally elected to the council as a Labour member, Cllr Sams later became an independent. His wife Janetta, a Lenham parish council- lor, stood for the second ward seat in 2010, butwas pipped to the post by Cllr John Barnes. Since January, the couple have


been helping to care for their son, who broke three limbs in an acci- dent atwork. On the Lib Dem benches, MervynWarner, a councillor since 2002, plans to stand down, along


with Cllr Stephen Beerling. CllrWarner, who lives in Boxley


Road, is a member for North ward while Cllr Beerling, from Peel Street, a member for Fant, has been on the council since 2006. In the south of the borough, council stalwart and former mayor and cabinet member, Conservative Cllr Eric Hotson is to stand down in Staplehurst, along with Cllrs Jenefer Gibson (Headcorn) and Mike Yates, from Shepway North. Cllr Hotson, who also sits on the county council, has been a member of Maidstone Council for 20 years.


He is a member of the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board and of the strategic leadership and corpo- rate overview and scrutiny com- mittee. Cllr Gibson, a member of the council for 28 years, is on the li- censing and standards committees and the community, leisure serv- ices and environment overview and scrutiny committee. Cllr Yates has been a member of


the council for 15 years and also sits on the licensing and community, leisure services and environment overview and scrutiny committees.


Primary academy told to improve


A SHEPWAY academy has been accused of underperforming in its latest Ofsted report, which rated it as inadequate. Molehill Copse Primary was blamed for failing to ensure pupils pro-


gressed, with the more clever pupils effectively held back. Attendance at the school in Hereford Road was improving, but remained


poor among some, as did the attitude of other students to learning. The inspector concluded that the academy needed to improve behav-


iour and leadership, and, in terms of teaching and pupil achievement,was inadequate. The inspector’s report concluded: “This school ... is performing signifi- cantly less well than it might be reasonably expected to perform.”


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