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Lib Dems pip Tories at poll


JUST six votes separated theTories from the victorious Lib Dems in the Staplehurst by-election. After a nail-biting re-count the winner of the seat on Maidstone Council was Paulina Watson (pic- tured), who snatched the seat from under the nose of Tory rival Louise Brice.


The Lib Dem victory means the Tories now hold 24 of the 55 seats on the council, while the Lib Dems have 20, In- dependents 5, UKIP 4 and


Labour 2. The by-election result was de-


clared at 11.30pm, 90 minutes after the polls closed at Staplehurst Vil- lage Centre. The result was a further blow for


the Conservatives on Maidstone Council, who lost long-serving member Richard Lusty within days of a new minority administration being selected by the Tories follow-


Results PaulinaWatson (Lib Dem) 609


Louise Brice (Con) 603 Jamie Kalmar (UKIP) 311 John Randall (Lab) 117 David George (Green) 41


ing the May election. UKIP candidate Jamie Kalmar


came third in the by-election, with Labour’s John Randall fourth and the Green’s David George in fifth place. There was a 35% turnout at the polls – higher than for many seats in the local elections. Cllr Watson (61), who is Dutch,


came to England from Holland in 1973 to learn English. A former manager in social care for KCC, she was made redundant in 2012. CllrWatson admits she is new to politics, butwas persuaded to stand for election after hearing the huge amount of opposition from friends and neighbours to the huge housing expansion planned for Staplehurst.


Cricket club could close unless players pitch in


WEST Farleigh Cricket Club, which has been running for over 80 years, could be in danger of closing unless it can recruit more players. By mid-July the club had only


played twice this season, with games cancelled due to lack of players. It currently only operates a men’s section and has up to 20 players to call on, but they are not always available for matches.Astipulation by the owner of the home ground, in Church Lane, that matches can- not be played on Sundays had not helped matters, said committee member, Terry Baines (57). He said: “We have a lovely set- up and facilities here. It would be


a shame not to be able to use them.” “We used to have more young


lads from the village and were a traditional farmers’ team. Two or three farmswere enough to supply the team.” The club would also like to start


up a children’s section. There is no women’s section, although Kent under-11 girls’team also shares the ground. Most of the players are in their


20s and the club accepts any male aged 14 years and above. If you are interested in joining, call the first team captain Matt Brooke on 07811 324809 or fixture secretary Paul Baines on 01622 720810.


Quality mark for pre-school


ASTAPLEHURST pre-school has been awarded KCC’s Kent Qual- ity Mark, which encourages nurs- eries and pre-schools to raise their standards. Chapel Lane Pre-School in Sta- plehurst was one of 14 schools in Kent awarded the mark. Roger Gough, KCC cabinet member for education, said: “We encourage all nurseries and pre- schools to aim for this award.”


Each member of staff in the nursery or pre-school is involved in the scheme and has to consider all elements of how the organisa- tion is run and the impact of any suggested improvements to working practices on the children. Topics for research projects this


year included Listening to the voice of the child, Growing green thinkers and Getting it right for two-year-olds.


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Maidstone South August 2014 5


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