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Maidstone & Malling’s No. 1 newspaper

June 2017

Rustie to be panto’s Fairy Godmother

RUSTIE Lee, the TV cook and star of the Bafta- nominated "Real Marigold Hotel", will play the Fairy Godmother at this year's panto at the Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone.

Cinderella runs from December 1 to 31. Rustie, famous for her infectious laugh, has been on our screens for decades and is still a reg- ular on ITV's This Morning. She has also ap- peared in West End shows such as South Pacific. A spokesman for the Hazlitt Theatre said: “Rustie is very much one of the nation’s favourites. We believe that she will prove to be a big draw in our production of Cinderella .”  More Hazlitt panto news on page 8

Council moves Mela cash to food festival

MAIDSTONE’S Mela celebration is seeking sponsorship after the borough council’s decision to invest its money in a world food festival at Mote Park.

In spite of Maidstone Mela win-

ning support from cultural groups and the council since 2003, council- lors have chosen to put £30,000 into a new three-day food festival in- stead. This event – from September 1-3 –will be backed by the borough council for three years. In the meantime, Maidstone’s

Mela has been unable to secure its usual September date at Mote Park, but has secured the council-run Whatman Park on Sunday, July 16. The one-day festival, organised by Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council (KECC), and vol- unteers, will run from 12.30-6pm. KECC spokesman Gurvinder Sandher said he is “disappointed” by the council’s decision, but did not

it will be a truly community-led project andwe will make it work.” Mela have some funding from the

Arts Council and plans to return to Mote Park next year. But Mr Sandher warned: “We

view its food festival as competition. He says consideration was given

to the council’s tender to stage the food event, but this had been awarded to Event Umbrella. Mr Sandher said: “We are a smaller organisation and could not underwrite a three-day event like this. While this is the first year run- ning the Mela without any support from the local authority, and it has been a challenge to get to this stage,

hope the community will come and support us, otherwise there is adan- ger the Mela will disappear.” The chairman of Maidstone Coun-

cil’s Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee, Cllr David Pickett, wished the Melawell. He added: “Following extensive consultation…we have decided to create a three-day multi-cultural food and drink festival at MotePark. The festival will not only sustain it- self financially but will offer greater inclusivity to residents and visitors.”

The Mela line-up

01622 690290 YOUR LOCAL PROPERTY EXPERT 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

ED Sheeran tribute Jack Shepherd will perform at the Mela, along with The Emeralds Steel Band, Reel Eire Irish Dancing, Kitka Bulgarian Folk, Maid- stone Nepalese Community, Four by Four Bhangra and Bhangra superstar Jassi Sidhu. Obituaries 36 Crime Reports 37

A CAR was broken into at Gabriels Hill and a bank card stolen; youths were seen trying to gain access to a van at Glebe Lane; a black bicycle was stolen from The Broadway; a house was broken into and jewellery taken by bur- glars in Park Avenue.

Parish Councils 37

FLEUR Willson has been co-opted onto the parish council in Barming; the smoking of cannabis at King George V play- ing field in Loose has been re- ported but not caught on CCTV; the parish clerk at Barming has received one report of rubbish being dumped at one of the new bus shelters.

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FREE No. 242

News Litter firm trouble

A LITTER enforcement firm em- ployed by the council has been suspended over claims it of- fers staff fine bonuses. 3

Arriva face numbers

DATA shows Invicta grammar pupils are turning up late after timetable changes.

4 Princess Royal visit

PRINCESS Anne dropped in on Maidstone’s Save the Children shop. 16

A CHILDCARE facility in Maidstone has been rated as “out- standing” by Ofsted .

Loulous Ofsted praise 26

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