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River gathering goes ‘swimmingly’

MAIDSTONE’S “boat gathering” proved a resounding success, with more

than 100 boats mooring along the Medway for a day of fun and frolics. Medway River Boaters refused to be sunk after organisers of the River Festival decided to pull the plug on the annual waterborne gala and set about organising their own event, spreading the word through friends, family and social media. A Facebook page drew almost 4,000 hits in a week. With some boats gathering a

week before the event and a sun- filled start to the school holidays, Mark Smurthwaite, one of the or- ganisers, couldn’t have been hap- pier. He even got a mention from Chris Evans on Radio 2. Mark said: “We didn’t receive one bad comment – just lots of praise. The atmosphere was awe- some.

“It was just phenomenal. For something that wasn’t ‘organised’ it went swimmingly. There was a great atmosphere with old friends meeting up and a lot of laughs.” Town centre manager Bill Moss said he would fully support a sim- ilar event next year and Mark and the other organisers, Matt Holness and Brian Ashdown, from Little Venice in Yalding, are rallying sup- port from members of the council.

August 2014 No. 208 News Companies boost

MAIDSTONE is showing solid signs of economic growth, with more businesses opening and fewer closing.

4 Fewer prison officers

STAFF levels at Maidstone Prison are going down at the same time as jails across the country suffer overcrowding. 6

Prolific on potholes

MORE than 2,500 potholes have been repaired in Maidstone so far this year – more than in any other part of Kent.

Head passes away

TRIBUTES were paid to MidKent College principal Sue McLeod, who died from a brain tumour.

Mark said: “I’ve no idea why the council doesn’t support this event – it brought loads of people into town, who spent lots of money. There are plenty of businesses along the river which stand to ben- efit and, with a bit of sponsorship, it could be even better.”

Mark (55), from Boughton Monchelsea, who moors his 25ft cabin cruiser at Yalding, believes the town’s shops and businesses stood to profit hugely, with many boaters eating out over the week- end and frequenting the local pubs. One owner rigged his entire ves-

Sophie named Divine poet

A SANDLING schoolgirl is feeling “divine” after winning a national po- etry competition. Nine-year old Sophie Turner was chosen from 1,000 entries in the competition, organised by Divine Chocolate and Christian Aid, to devise a poem on the theme “If I met a cocoa farmer”. Award-winning children’s author Philip Ardagh, who chose Sophie as the winner in the 7-11 age group, said: “I was delighted to be asked to judge this year’s


sel with fairy lights and bunting and sailed up and down the river each evening, towing a 15-ft rein- deer.

As boats sailed in from Yalding, Hempstead Marina and from as far afield as Essex, Mark texted DJ Chris Evans, who used to live in Nettlestead.

“I knew Chris had a boat so I sent him a message to say ‘I’m on my boat in the Med – the Medway, that is’ – and he wished us all the best for a great event.”

Cllr Martin Cox, who had organised the River Festival4

Tax rises beat

UK average INCOME tax payers in Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling are see- ing their bills rise faster than the av- erage rate for the UK, according to a survey. In Maidstone, taxpayers pay an

average of £5,520 a year, an increase of 8% over five years, above theUK average amount of £4,985 which is an increase of 6.2% since 2006/7. Households in Tonbridge and Malling have seen an even higher hike, paying an average of £6,970 in income tax 22

OAK AND PINE The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291 Motorists beware

WILLINGTON Street will stay closed till August 31.19

New supermarket POWERHUB wins consent.34

Comment Obituaries 46-47 30-31

THE Willington Street traffic lights and parish politics in Bearsted dominate the debate.


MUSICIAN Eric Snowball, who ran his own shop in Upper Fant Road, is remembered, alongside other local people.

Parish Councils 46-47

WORLD War I booklets were available in Bredhurst; anti-so- cial behaviour was on the de- crease at the Detling Aerodrome Estate; a road sign had been lev- ered by a lorry in Ulcombe.

Crime Reports 47

POLICE made an appeal after three white and yellow ferrets were stolen from a rear garden in Hollingbourne.

16 12

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