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Gay pub wins a late licence

A LATE night licence has been granted to Maidstone’s only gay pub, despite objections from neigh- bours.

Maidstone Council’s licensing sub-committee agreed that the pub in Sittingbourne Road could stay open, play music and serve alcohol until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights, closing its doors to customers at 3.30am. Previously, the pub had closed at 1.30am during the week, with entertainment ending at 11.30pm. The owners,AdmiralTaverns Ltd, successfully applied to vary the premises licence of the pub. More than 25 local residents ob-

jected to the application, citing pub- lic nuisance and potential crime and disorder. There are 50 retired and elderly residents in nearby Friars Court in Queen Anne Road, most of whom signed a petition opposing the change.

Landlord of the pub since January

has been Ron Hall, but it emerged at the meeting that the brewery has taken the licence away fromMrHall

and his business partner, Terry Far- rell, offering it solely to Mr Farrell. However, regulars have signed ape- tition in support of Mr Hall and hope he can be reinstated. The Queen Anne has DJ nights, karaoke, live music, drag acts and its own version of the X Factor – TheQ Factor. Regulars were looking for- ward to Christmas celebrations and a New Year’s Eve prom. Business development manager

Cathy Button said: “Our focus is on ensuring a sustainable future for the Queen Anne as a pub at the heart of its community. "We thankRonfor the work he has

put into the Queen Anne and hope that the local community will con- tinue to support Terry.”

Foster carer rewarded for years of dedication

AMAIDSTONE woman has been re- warded for her outstanding contri- bution to fostering in Kent. Debbie Preston-Mcleod and her partner Daniel, from Loose have been fostering since May last year. They have four children aged be-

tween six and 13 and one fostered boy aged four, who has now been with them for more than a year. He has multi-sensory impairments and complex medical needs. Debbie said: “The children dote on

him and include him in everything. They think about him andmake sure he’s happy in every situation, it’s lovely to watch.” Debbie decided to foster after spending 14 years working in a chil- dren’s hospice. She said: “At first, a couple of chil-

dren came to us for respite care on weekends and holidays. Thenwe did long-term respite, so that our own children could get used to having other children in the house.” Debbie was among 22 carers pre-

sentedwith a certificate for their out- standing contributions to Kent’s fostering service. Philip Segurola, director of special- ist children’s services at KCC said:

“Foster carers do an amazing job. Now more than ever we need to show our foster carers howmuchwe appreciate them. These awards are a wonderful way to celebrate the in- dividuals and their families making a difference to a child’s life. “With the extra pressure we have

on all staff in our children’s services due to the increased amount of un- accompanied asylum-seeking chil- dren coming into Kent, we desperately need more people to consider fostering a child. More fam- ilies are needed in Kent for children with disabilities and learning diffi- culties, some ofwhomhave complex needs, to give them the chance of a better future.” Foster carers can be single, in a

long-term relationship, with or with- out children and do not need to own their own home. They need a spare roomand the determination and un- derstanding to make life better for vulnerable children. To find out more about fostering,

visit Debbie said: “I’m so glad we did

this. Sometimes, in the beginning, you feel as if you’rewading through toffee but it’s so worth it.”

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