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News Anger at bid


to close centre A CALL by KCC for the public’s view on its plan to close a care home in Maidstone has been met with awave of opposition. The closure of the Dorothy Lucy Centre in Northumberland Road, Shepway has caused anger among those worried about losing a per- manent home for the elderly and the dozens of families who use its respite services, as well as those who visit its dementia day centres. The county council, which has deemed the centre not fit for pur- pose, says it wants to use the money saved by closing it to im- prove care for service users in their own homes. However, a public meeting called


by the Kent County Anti-Austerity Alliance at St Faith’s Church in Maidstone to save the 28-bed unit from closure attracted more than 50 supporters. They included rela- tives, trade unionists, representa- tives of Momentum Maidstone and councillors. Guest speakers Paul Hobday,


from the National Health Action party, and Unison’s Jacqui Berry claimed the closure of Maidstone’s dementia respite care centres was an excuse for further privatisation. Sue Black, the daughter of a serv-


ice user, also gave a speech about the lack of any real alternative serv- ice provision. Those at the meeting supported


the formation of a committee to help save the centre and backed a march due to be held at County Hall on December 12. A petition will also be handed to the county council’s full council by county councillor Brian Clark this month.


£80K officer Continued from page one


leaves his role. A council spokesman said: “The agency fees are similar to the on-costs (National Insurance, pen- sion etc) that the council incurs for members of staff that it employs di- rectly.” Mr Spooner has pledged to create a “square mile” in Maidstone, in-


cluding the redevelopment of land at Maidstone East station. He also hopes to influence man- agement of The Mall to bring for- ward its improvement plans. The council spokesman added:


“Mr Spooner is also responsible for planning, development and man- agement of Maidstone borough in- cluding leading the delivery of multi-million pound projects to improve the whole borough and the quality of life for all residents, not only in the town centre.”


22 Maidstone Town Xmas 2015


downsmail.co.uk


Rugby club features in proposal for 450 homes


A PROPOSAL to build 452 houses on the edge of Tovil includes a new home for Maidstone Rugby Club. Alan Firmin wants to develop


28.4 hectares between Dean Street and Stockett Lane containing hous- ing, a doctors’ surgery and a sports field for the occupation of the rugby club, whose lease at The Mote Cricket Club comes up for re- newal in May 2016. The representation – for possible inclusion on the local plan – says the sports ground “secures imple- mentation of a long-standing policy commitment which, to date, has simply not been deliverable”. Part of the land at Walnut Tree


Farm is owned by Maidstone Council. The representation says the mostly agricultural site on Maid- stone’s urban fringe has good facil- ities and transport connections, adding: “It would be “a natural ex- tension to Maidstone and not look out of place.” It says that development is pro-


posed on a parcel of land to the east of Stockett Lane, designated as part of Loose Valley Area of Landscape Importance. The cricket club has been work-


ing with Maidstone Council on a proposal for an “enabling residen- tial development” on the upper rugby pitch to find the £4m needed to improve its ground.


A spokesman for Maidstone Council said: “It is normal for sites to come forward at any stage in the local plan process. Councillors will decide on this site and 38 others at the strategic planning and sustain- ability and transport committee on December 14. “Councillors will give careful consideration to the site. It is on the edge of the urban area. Part of the site is allocated for open space in


the current local plan.Asignificant part is a former landfill site. There is an existing planning permission for housing on the adjoining site to the north. “If the site is accepted it will be included in the next Regulation 19 consultation. There would be a fur- ther chance to comment on the local plan at the public examination presided over by a government in- spector.”


‘Village’ plan submitted


COUNTRYSIDE Properties has submitted a planning application to build a mini-village off Sutton Road, Maidstone amid hundreds of other homes already under construction to the south of the town. The proposal for 800 homes, a primary school, community hall, nursery,


creche, pub, restaurant, allotments, play area and a 60-bed care home has been lodged with Maidstone Council. The village would be called Rumwood Green and includes open land to


the south of Sutton Road, next to the Langley Park housing development, currently under construction. The developer likens the layout – off amain street, with a green – to vil-


lages such as Tenterden in the Weald of Kent and Marlborough in Wilt- shire, adding: “The village centre is intended to be the heart of this community. It does not aim to be a major shopping centre but will pro- vide a range of community services, well-located for the residential neigh- bourhoods. Any services provided here will complement those planned for Langley Park.” It says talks have already been held with KCC. A development of 800 homes, on land allocated in the council’s draft local plan, would surround the home of KCC leader Paul Carter.


Gill’s work recognised Thanks for help


A RETIRED teacher who has spent 12 years supporting people affected by brain injury has been shortlisted for a national award. Gill Leandro (65), from Kingswood, is one of three finalists from across the UK up for brain in- jury association Headway’s Volun- teer of the Year award. Maths teacher Gill first started working for Headway West Kent whenshewas asked to help a person rebuild their numeracy skills after a brain injury. After she retired in 2002, she became a volunteer. One of her key roles is delivering literacy and numeracy support to peoplewhoare struggling to relearn lost skills. One service user, whose brain injury cost him his job as an ac- countant,was helped by Gill to pass his GCSE mathematics exam. In 2013, Gill walked 25 miles around Leeds Castle and in Mote Park, raising £2,500 for Headway West Kent. She was also one of the first to signupto the charity'sBuddy service. Once a week, she and her husband Stephen Beavis (pictured)


MAIDSTONE Mencap members raised £1,044 at their Christmas bazaar. Organiser Ann Tutte said: “Thank you to everyone who sup- ported it, to all the helpers on the day, and a special thank you to Santa and his elves who came along to see our children.”


host woodwork classes at their home, which helps six members of HeadwayWest Kent redevelop mo- bility, craft and social skills. Gill has also participated in the charity's annual “Host for Head- way” event, preparing a five-course meal for 16 people, raising more than £300 for Headway. She also takes part in residential


weekend breaks for Headway to give service users a break from their daily routine. Gill will discover if she is to be namedVolunteer of theYear at a cer- emony at The Dorchester Hotel, in London, on Friday, December 11.


Driver banned ANTHONY James (40) of Farleigh Lane, Tovil,was banned from driv- ing for 60 months and given a 120- day suspended jail term for failing to give a breath test when he was stopped in his car by police in Maidstone. Hewas also billed £315 in costs.


YMCA hall


A YMCA building is to open in Barfreston Close, Tovil on January 23. For any enquiries on meet-


ing room/hall hire please call the Loose Centre on 01622 749404 or email sue.thomp- son@maidstoneymca.org.uk.


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