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Elderly forced to move as homes set to close

CUTS in funding have been blamed for a decision by the Abbeyfield Kent

Society to close two of its residential homes in the Malling area. Almost 80 elderly residents and

more than 90 staff at Abbeyfield’s homes Greensted, inWateringbury, and St Martin’s, at Larkfield, will need to relocate by March 2016. Both homes provide care for pri-

vate and county council clients, in- cluding those with conditions such as dementia and Parkinsons. Aspokesman for Abbeyfield Kent Society said itwas left with no alter- native other than to close in light of cuts by central and local government in funding for the elderly and the in- troduction of the county council’s new dynamic purchasing system, which invites homes to “bid” for clients. The age and condition of the

properties, which were acquired from KCC in 1999, also played a part.

Abbeyfield – a not-for-profit or- ganisation – is due to submit plans to redevelop both sites into “extra care centres”, providing apartments for sale and to rent, offering resi- dents health support. LaurenceFowler-Stevens,director

of corporate services at Abbeyfield Kent, said closing care homes was not something the society did unless there was no alternative, which re- grettablywas the case.Hesaid every effort would be made to help resi- dents find alternative accommoda- tion and to support staff with jobs

Shed meeting place for men

ANOVEL meeting place to tackle the isolation often felt bymenin retirement is taking shape in Aylesford. The “Men’s Shed” is being built at Cobtree Manor Park, with half-a-dozen

volunteer “shedders” putting it together inside the old Elephant House, thatwas part of Maidstone zoo until the end of the 1950s. Rob Oxley, who has

been co-ordinating the work, said: “Women tend to be farmore social and in retirement can turn toWomen’s Institutes and other activities, whereas men often struggle with making new friends. “The Men’s Shed initiative provides a place formen – and women – to

Shedders from Allington with some of the wildlife boxes they have made

get together and try out some of their skills, some ofwhich theymay not have used for a while, like carpentry.” Aswell as a drop-in meeting place, the Men’s Shed at Aylesfordwill have

aworkshop, where shedders who have outgrown their Allington base can build nature boxes for wildlife and sell items to help fund the scheme. Rob said: “We have had discounts and donations offered by local merchants formaterials and tools, but there’s a lot to do.” It is hoped the Men’s Shed will open within eight months and will be

open three days aweek. Anyone interested in helping out, becoming a shedder, sponsoring the work, or who is interested in setting up a shed can call Kim Richards on 03000 414824 or email

elsewhere within the group or at the redeveloped sites. He said: “It is with a very heavy

heart thatwe have had to share this news. The care and resettlement of our residents is our first and fore- most priority.” The spokesman said care for the elderlywas entering another period of complex change and Abbeyfield was doing its best to adapt. She added: “This is the shape of care to come. Elderly peoplewant more in- dependence, but with bespoke health support to meet their needs as they require it.” While details are still to be confirmed, the society says


Lost property goes online

THE old saying of “finders keepers” might soon be rearing its ugly head, after a decision by Kent Police not to take in lost property.

The force will now only accept property which could pose a threat to the public – such as weapons and firearms, documents and ID or goods believed to be associated with crime.

Finders of items such as lost purses, keys, jewellery and medi- cines will be advised to try to find the owners via social media. The Taxpayers’ Alliance is among critics of the decision. Chief execu- tive Jonathan Isaby said: “Handing something into the police is a won- derful example of community spirit and for the force to discourage that is madness.” But a spokesman for Kent Police said: “Lost property is not a police matter.”

Kent Police has had in the region of 9,000 items a year handed in – and 12,500 calls to the force control room regarding lost property. Yet only 5% of people are reunited with their items.

In the future, the force 4 Kent’s Most Awarded Optician

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June 2015 No. 218 News

Glowing reports

Two residential care homes at East Peckham have been rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission. 6

Building delay

A NEW school at Kings Hill will begin life in mobile classrooms after the discovery of asbestos on the site. 8

Gatecrashers jailed

Two thugs were jailed after a vicious attack on off-duty police officers attending a party at a West Malling pub.

Ghostly invasion

THERE’S a creepy explanation for a strange white tree at an Aylesford park. 40


Parish Councils Comment

28 32

Crime Reports 32 40-41

FUNDING was needed for at least £25,000 to buy play equipment at Addington but it seemed that sources were limited; a defibrillator could be sited in the village hall porch at Birling; improved CCTV was suggested at East Peckham after more than £300 was spent re- moving graffiti from the youth shel- ter and street snooker; there were now 12 ducklings on Offham pond and some goldfish had been dumped there; at West Peckham, the village green would be used as a route point during a Guides’ hike.

Town Talk alk

BUCHANAN Optometrist in Snodland has been named the UK’s top independent practice in its field. For more details see Town Talk in the central pages of this month’s Downs Mail. The bi-monthly independent magazine is dedicated to Snod- land and Halling residents.


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