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News Emily’s bale forWestminster

A FORMER Invicta Grammar School pupil has been chosen to represent the Liberal Democrats at the next general election in theMaidstone and theWeald constituency. Oxford graduate Emily Fermor

(23), of Coxheath, will take on Helen Grant, the sitting Conserva- tive MP. Miss Fermorwas elected by a sin-

gle vote in May’s borough council elections to the Coxheath and Huntonward, beating the Tories. She was part of Lib Dem parlia- mentary candidate Jasper Gerard’s general election team in 2015. Mr Gerard, who was heavily beaten by Mrs Grant despite hav- ing run awell-organised campaign, welcomed her appointment. Miss Fermor, who works as a consultant for a London public re- lations firm, said: “I am proud of our county town and believe we need a local person representing us with energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to the local area – something we have not had for a number of years. “I have lived in Maidstone all of

my life and have a knowledge and understanding of our town and vil-

New Mall shop SHOPPERS at The Mall in Maid- stone have had their first peek in- side the centre’s newest store. Discount department store, TJ Hughes, opened its doors on Sep- tember 22, five years after its origi- nal Maidstone store closed. It stocks leading beauty brands including Elemis, Estee Lauder, Clarins and Clinique as well as de- signer bed linen from Catherine Lansfield, fashion accessories from Karen Millen, Gucci and Calvin Klein, plus toys and games from Disney, Playmobil and Fisher Price. “We’re thrilled to welcome TJ Hughes to The Mall, Maidstone,” said Suzie Brindle, The Mall Maid- stone’s spokesman. “The depart- ment store will give our shoppers a real variety of products and some great discounts.”

SHOPPERS and staff were evacu- ated from a Tesco Express after a bonfire at a nearby derelict build- ing got out of control. The fire halted traffic for a time

while firefighters dealt with the incident. The blaze spread to the Tesco

store in Loose Rd and there were fears over the presence of large gas canisters. Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) used a hose, jet and a hy- drant to dampen the 10 feet high flames on September 21. It is understood the cause is being treated as accidental.

represent the people of Maid- stone.” Miss Fermor said the Lib Dems

are now on standby for a general election next spring. Mr Gerard, who is now em-

ployed as a campaigner for the party’s HQ, said: “Emily was part of my team in 2015 and was ab- solutely brilliant. She worked in- credibly hard and is very popular. She’ll make a fantastic candidate.” Mrs Grant swept into the seat in

Emily Fermor, centre, on the campaign trail

lages that can’t be taught. I relish the opportunity to prove myself in the coming years. “Nationally, the country is in cri-

sis. Both the Conservatives and Labour are focused entirely on in- fighting while the economy wors- ens, threatening jobs, public services and our efforts to build the houses Britain so badly needs.”

Miss Fermor, who lives with her parents in Heath Road, attended a state primary school in Boughton Monchelsea before attending In- victa. She studied history at Mag- dalen College, Oxford. She added: “I am incredibly

proud to have been selected to stand as the candidate in my home town. It would be a huge honour to

2015 with a majority of more than 10,000 and few will give Miss Fer- mor much chance of winning the seat. She was approached for a comment. Mr Gerard worked the patch full

time for more than three years, and made significent gains through local campaigning. However, a change in the na-

tional mood towards the end of the Tory campaign convinced voters to turn away from the Lib Dems, who suffered a catastrophic collapse.

Castle is setting for flower festival

ENOUGH flowers to fill eight vans were exhibited throughout the rooms of Leeds Castle at its breath- taking five-day Festival of Flowers. Providing the perfect backdrop for

the 20,000 stems of flowers and foliage, brought together in elaborate floral displays by 28 designers, there was plenty for visitors to feast their eyes on. The event, opened by TV garden personality Joe Swift,was expected to have been seen by 13,500 visitors. Visitors included TV presenter Jan Leeming and Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant. Taking this year’s trophy for the

best floral display was the castle’s head florist Louise Roots, with her design A Royal Banquet.

International floral designer

Dennis Kneepkens is pictured here putting the finishing touches to his

courtyard displayWhimsical Woodland at the Festival of Flowers: A Queen’s Castle.

Tesco staff saved shoppers from fire Fostering plea A large plume of black smoke

was visible for miles around Maidstone. Tesco staff knew somethingwas wrong when there was a strong smell of acrid smoke getting into the supermarket. Staff and shopperswere quickly ushered to safety. It is understood the fire also af-

fected a double garage which is also near to the derelict property. One local resident said: "At first

we though the Tesco was on fire but it turned out to be coming from the back of the building. "Therewas a lot of frenetic activ-

ity, particularly by the firemen. The policewere controlling things out front and making sure the area was cleared and the cars kept out of immediate danger. "At one point it looked like it

might get very serious but the crews got there quickly and id a good job." A Tesco spokesman said: "Our colleagues worked really hard to ensure our customers were safely evacuated from the store." Trafficwas held back in both di- rections for a time and the road was later reopened. No one is un- derstood to have been injured.

MORE foster homes are urgently needed in the Maidstone area ac- cording to Kent County Council (KCC) which saysdemandfor carers is reaching “crisis point”. Maidstone has been identified as a priority are by the county council which needs to find 200 places. In Kent this year, 1,593 children en-

tered care compared to 899 in 2013/4. KCC needs homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups as well as unaccompanied young asylum seekers. To find out more visit www.kent- or phone 03000 420002 to speak to an advisor.

Maidstone November 2016 23

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