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News


cuts warning KENT CountyCouncil’sConserva- tive leader Paul Carter has warned of further cuts to frontline services in order to balance the books. Cllr Carter said hewould appeal


downsmail.co.uk More council Late frosts harmcrop


to ministers to end austerity – but wasmet with a hail of criticismfor allowing a 15% increase in mem- bers' allowances. The authority was bombarded


online, with one social media writer saying: "A 15% pay rise and KCC need to find howto cut costs? This is getting beyond a joke." Cllr Carter claimed rising infla-


tion would add to the pressure as contractors would look to pass on increases to the rate-payer. KCC is having to find cuts of


£73m this year and a similar amount next year. Cllr Carter said: "So far we have


always been able to say that we have protected frontline services but there is a worry whether we will be able to do that next year.”


Body is found


A SEARCH by Kent Police for a missing pensioner has led to the re- covery of bodymissing FrankGore. A statement said: "Officers


searching an area ofwoodland near Leybourne Lakes found a man’s body at around 4.30pm on Thurs- day, 21 September, 2017. "Formal identification has not yet


taken place but the next of kin of missing 86-year-old Frank Gore (from Larkfield) have been in- formed. The death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious and a report will now be prepared for the coroner."


FRUIT lovers are being urged to bag their favourite English apples – but they’ll have to bite the bulletwhen it comes to the price followingweather conditions that have cut crops across thewhole of Europe. Nigel Bardsley grows just shy of


a dozen varieties, including Brae- burn, Bramley, Cox and Gala, on 350 acres at Staplehurst. He has been luckier than most in that he was able to ‘frost protect’ some of his crop, but he estimates the over- all harvest will still be 10-15% down on last year. He said: “We had an early start to


the season and then a sharp air frost at the end of April when the blossom was setting, which af- fected crops at home and across Eu- rope, which has led to a downturn in supply of around 20%.” Mr Bardley’s farmwill supply in


excess of 2,500 tonnes of apples this season to all the major supermar- kets, with the exception of Sains- bury’s. The shortage in supplies – with


some farmers in low-lying areas of the Weald reporting a 60-80% re- duction – will undoubtedly raise prices, which were already up, be- cause of the pound’s falling value against the euro. However, Mr Bardley says, in terms of taste and colour, the English apple has never been better. Supermarkets have also agreed that some fruit affected by “frost die” will be accepted for sale. Mr Bardsley (60), whose fourth


generation apple growing business is nearCross atHand, said: “We are pleased that supermarkets ac- knowledge some Bramleys may


Fruit farmer Nigel Bardsley and son Ben examine this season’s apple crop


have a slight brown blemish but that thesewonderful apples should not be rejected when this simply peels out and doesn’t affect the fruit’s quality or flavour.” He added: “Thisweather pattern


reminds the public of the natural environment in which farmers work. Whether it is hurricanes in the Caribbean or late frosts, we are all affected by the weather and are finding new ways to protect our harvest.” His frost protectionmeasures in- clude spraying trees with iced


water in an effort to prevent the ambient temperature falling below zero degrees. Over on higher ground atOtham,


PeterNicholls has 50 acres growing Cox, Bramley, Rubens, Spartan and Braeburns, and says he considers himself lucky, retaining 70-80% of his crop. He said: “It could be thatwithout


the flood of cheap imports the su- permarkets may be persuaded to pay us a little more, which would be nice, given this year’s difficul- ties.”


NHS chief lands new job Murderer is recalled to jail


THE former chief executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has landed a newjob as boss of theKent andMedway Sus- tainability and Transformation Partnership. Mr Douglas has been the part-


time senior officer responsible for the partnership since it was estab- lished in 2016. He


said:


“Our plans to work together across health and social care to


services


improve for


people in Kent and Medway are starting to take shape. “Doctors, nurses and other


health professionals, alongside so- cial care practitioners and health and local authority leaders inKent andMedway, have a clear and ex- citing ambition.


24 “Wewant to improve health and


wellbeing, reduce health inequali- ties between different areas in our region, improve the quality of services so people get better clini- cal outcomes and patient experi- ence, and create a sustainable system within the available re- sources, most importantly staff and funds.” Felicity Cox, NHS England di-


rector of commissioning opera- tions for the south-east, said: “Across the country, health and so- cial care systems have started to work in more collaborative ways to improve care for local people. “Bringing together partners


from across the NHS, as well as local authorities, voluntary and community sectors, requires sig- nificant focus, commitment and dedicated leadership. “Glenn’s appointment to this


full-time rolewill strengthenwhat can be achieved for the people of Kent andMedway.”


Maidstone East November 2017


AMAIDSTONE murderer who deliberately started a fire in a Maidstone block of flats has been sentenced to more than three years in prison. James Clarke (80), caused tens


of thousands of pounds worth of damage after setting light to his home in James Whatman Way. The alertwas raisedwhen care


staff received a call fromClarke at 5.15pm on 30 April this year, and could hear an alarm in the background. On opening the flat door, they


discovered a blaze inside. Clarke admitting he had de-


liberately caused the fire,which was believed to have been started on his bed. Police and fire crews attended


the third floor property, from where he was taken to safety and arrested. Clarke was immediately re- called to prison, having


breached a life licence imposed following a previous conviction in 1990 formurder. Appearing before Maidstone


Crown Court, he admitted a charge


of


arson being reckless as to whether life was en- dangered. On 20 Sep- t e m b e r , Clarke was jailed for three years


and fourmonths . Detective Sergeant Neil Mar-


tin said: "The building inwhich Clarke lived also housed a large number of sheltered accommo- dation residents,mainly elderly and vulnerable people. They all had to be evacuated and Clarke’s incredibly reckless ac- tions put their lives at risk, as well as his own.”


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