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News


Drugs found in home raid


ADRUG dealer has been sentenced to prison after 15 wraps of heroin were seized from his home in Maid- stone.


James Bird (36)


was arrested in September 2015 after Kent Police searched


home in Lesley Place.


Heroin was


found on Bird and drugswere also hidden in a number of locations inside the property, in- cluding a freezer where officers also found amphetamine.Aboxwas also discovered containing a powder which could be used as a cutting agent. Messages on a mobile phone belonging to Bird provided evidence of deals.However, during police in- terview he denied any involvement in the supply of heroin. At Maidstone Crown Court, Bird


denied possessing heroin with intent to supply, but hewas convicted by a jury following a trial. He had previ- ously pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possessing amphetamine and was sentenced to two-and-a- half-years in prison. Detective Constable Michelle Mar-


shall said: “Please remember to re- port any suspicious behaviour.”


for tragic fan TEACHERS are to take on a team of celebrity players at Maidstone’s Gal- lagher Stadium memory of school- boy Charlie Girling. The idea for the charity gamewas


his


downsmail.co.uk


Barracks closure ends town’s military links


MAIDSTONE’s Invicta Park Bar- racks is to close, ending more than two centuries of military history in the county town. The base, off Royal Engineers


Road, will close in 2027, it was an- nounced in parliament. Army barracks have been in the county town since 1797, with the present base home to the Royal En- gineers 36 Engineer Regiment. It includes two Gurkha sections, resulting in a Nepalese community of more than 1,000 in the town. There are currently no plans for the relocation of the soldiers. The 41-hectare site, currently army accommodation and military build- ings, has been the regiment’s head- quarters since 1959. The decision was announced in


the House of Commons by Defence Secretary and Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon, in his Better Defence Statement. He told MPs that 56 Ministry of Defence sites would close by 2040, saying: “Our estate is vital but it’s also vast, making up almost 2% of the UK’s land mass.


Maidstone- based Gurkha soldiers on a a tour of duty in Kabul


“Yet while the size and structure of


the military has changed to meet dif- ferent threats, our estate has failed to adapt.” The decision is expected to be widely criticised, amid fears about the stress and uncertainty for mili- tary families and the effect on Maid- stone’s economy. Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone


and theWeald, said it was a worry- ing announcement for the 800 sol- diers, their families and dependents, many from the highly respected Nepalese community. She is also concerned it could af-


fect the wider population and econ- omy of Maidstone generally. The borough council listed the site,


off Royal Engineers Road, in its draft Local Plan for potential develop- ment of up to 1,300 homes, saying it expected the army to leave by 2031. But two years ago, the MoD de-


nied any such plans, saying it was categorised as “retained”. However, it later suggested to Maidstone Council that the base could be deemed surplus to require- ments in the long term, leaving it free for housebuilding or alternative uses.


Stones’ match Teenagers get harsh lesson in road safety


put forward by 12-year-old Charlie’s classmates at Maplesden Noakes School, where he was well known for his love of sport. Head Richard Owen said this


week that details were being fi- nalised for the game on Friday, De- cember 2. It will be played at the Gallagher Stadium, where Charliewas a regu- lar supporter of Maidstone United FC.


Hesaid:“We have managed to get agreement from the stadium to allow a number of Maidstone United players to play against the staff and we have also attracted in- terest from other well-known play- ers.”


Maplesden Noakes students also


hope to present a shield for sporting achievement and create a garden at their Buckland Road school inmem- ory of Charlie, who died while on a trip with the 1st Aylesford Scout group in Finland. Charlie’s family – mum Helene,


dad Les, brother Jack and sister Abby– fromAsh Close inAylesford, have welcomed the school’s activi- ties to remember Charlie, who died suddenly on July 24.


30


HUNDREDS of young drivers from Maidstone have witnessed the devastating effects of dangerous driving froman award-winning theatre production illustrating the impact of an accident. The Licence to Kill production combines film with live performances from999 staff, accident victim Spencer Aston and Marion Cornick, whose daughter died in a car crash. Itwas shown to future drivers, aged 16 to 24, at Mote Park. Insp Samantha Pearson, of Kent


Policed, said: “Passing your driving test is very exciting but the consequences of a collision can end that elation very quickly.Wewant to prepare new and young drivers for


Mik Sayer of Kent Police; Denise Collett of SECAmb; Spencer Aston; Marion Cornick and Alan Faulkner, Kent Fire and Rescue; and Carol Collen, of KCC Road Safety


the busy roads and continue to try to reduce the number of collisions.” A pupil fromOakwood Park


Grammar School in Maidstone, who attended the production, said: “The stories are brutal and make you realise it could happen to you or your family. I didn’t think about the emergency services personnel who


have to deal with it or how it impacts their lives too. Itwas hard towatch, I justwanted to leave. But itwas important to keepwatching and experience the harsh reality.’ More than 6,000 students have so


far seen the show, with other performances during November in Margate and Gravesend.


Bill’s Round golf raises £500 for RNLI


A GOLF match in memory of a Harrietsham fund-raiser has made another £500 for charity – this time for the Royal National Lifeboat In- stitution. Bill’s “Bonfire” Round attracted


its largest turnout in seven years, with 30 men and two women tee- ing off at Cobtree Manor Park Golf Course at Sandling. It was the 39th event since Bill’s Round was launched in 1998 – in memory of Bill Butler – in which the winner is allowed to nominate


Maidstone Weald December 2016


their chosen charity. Mr Butler organised many fund- raising events, including the popu- lar Bluebell Walk and started an appetite for Safari suppers in Har- rietsham. Taking the honours on Novem-


ber 4 was David Nickson, from Ashford Golf Club, who chose the RNLI to benefit from the £530 raised – boosted by fines picked up by some players for losing the team ball, wearing shorts, and teeing off badly on the first hole.


The winners of the “two nearest


the pin holes” were Mick Stanley and Paul Keenor and the best lady was Katrina Howard – ladies cap- tain at Chart Hills Golf Club. The best team was Alan Fineman, John Goad, Alan Joynson and David Nickson. Details of next year’s event have


still to be confirmed, but men and women golfers of all standards are invited to take part. Email roger.bevan@btinternet.com or call 07860-821306 for more information.


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