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KCC children’s centres inadequate, says Ofsted

MAIDSTONE’S Sure Start children’s centres have been unanimously condemned as inadequate by Ofsted inspectors. The town centre children’s group

covers six key sites – East Borough, West Borough, Greenfields in Shep- way, The Meadows in Park Wood, the Howard de Walden Centre in Bluett Street and the Sunshine Chil- dren’s Centre in Postley Road – all run by KCC.

They failed on all counts when inspected by Ofsted in June this year.

The team of five inspectors deemed the quality of practice and services inadequate, as was access to their services by young children and families – and the effectiveness of leadership, governance and management. The overall effective- ness of the group was also inade-

quate – the lowest of the four grades.

In a 10-point summary of key findings, the centres were slammed for having insufficient systems to monitor children’s progress, not de- livering antenatal services to new mothers and offering too few op- portunities to parents who want to become volunteers or get back into training and employment. The centres prioritise children whose families are unemployed, work for the military or have Eng- lish as a second language. Although the report states that

the level of care, guidance and sup- port offered to families using the centres is strong, there is not

enough support for families for whom English was not their first language, or for children with spe- cial educational needs. Leaders do not have the neces- sary information available to iden- tify what families need and the procedures to protect children who are most in need are not “robust” enough, meaning action is not al- ways taken quickly enough to keep all children in the centres safe. The report added that recent leadership and management changes meant staff have been pre- vented from having relevant train- ing and leaders had not been able to monitor the quality of some sessions.

4 £4m update

for The Mall A£4m revamp of The Mall will get underway in January as the first phase of a bid to bring Maidstone’s anchor shopping centre into the 21st century. While longer-term plans hinge

Park life likely to get busier

MOTEPark could become the Hyde Park of Kent after consentwas granted for a company to hold up to eight major social events per year. Maidstone Council has given a premises licence to Social Events

Worldwide to host more events after The Feast–atwo-day food and drink festival – was organised on the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Social Festival, a dance and cultural event, will return to


01622 692343

OPENING HOURS: 12.00NOON - 2.30PM & 6.00PM - 11.00PM 36

on the proposed Newnham Court development, The Mall’s new man- ager,Andy Davy, is aiming to bring the “tired-looking” retail centre up to date. Newflooring and ceilingswill go

into The Mall early in theNew Year and, while short-term leases only are being granted to incoming traders, Mr Davy is confident most of the empty units will have been let by then. Mr Davy, who took over as Mall manager in May, said the site va- cated by T J Hughes was being left “strategically empty”. The 57,000sqft unit has been ear- marked in longer-term plans should Debenhams seek an alter- native site to Newnham Court, off M20 Junction 7,

37 OAK AND PINE The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291

September 2014 No. 209 News

Hotel under threat

THE Russell Hotel could be de- molished and replaced with 14 homes, if a planning appli- cation is accepted.

Head passes way

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

6 Stones ground boost

FOOTBALL Conference games can now be played on Maidstone United’s 3G pitch – if and when they win promotion.

12 Students celebrate

MANY pupils across the borough are looking forward to going to university after receiving their A-Level results.

20 Boats along Medway

SUCCESSOR to River Festival proves a success. 30

Warehouse proposal WATERSIDE Park revamp.37

Comment 32-3346-47

THE leader of Maidstone Council responds to an enquiry about housing figures, readers sound off about Willington Street and local MP Helen Grant defends her position on expenses.

Obituaries 34

FORMER mayor of Maidstone Je- remy Hindle dies, aged 68.

Crime Reports 47

A SCOOTER was stolen from Mole Hill Copse Primary School in Shepway during sports day.

Parish Councils 47

THE parish council at Loose needed new members, with peo- ple who live or work in the parish invited to fill its five vacancies.


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