Parking fines may have to

be refunded BOROUGH council parking offi- cers could be forced to hand back hundreds of pounds in fines if they fail to establish their right to ticket in a Bearsted car park. Enforcement action is currently

suspended in Yeoman Lane, off the A20 Ashford Road, while Maidstone officials carry out an urgent investigation into who owns the land that they thought belonged to them. However, Downs Mail has

learned that, in the last two years alone, the council issued 14 penalty charge notices there,with a face value of £760. Confusion over the car park’s

ownership came to light after bor- ough councillor Denis Spooner began enquiring into the felling of sixmature trees at the site. The council’s property teamdid

not respond to questions about who held title to the land, but Maidstone’s parking services col- leagues were adamant the site was the council’s. A land registry search revealed

the car park had been under the ownership of a company called GPG No 1 Ltd, which is part of a property company that works with GP practices. However, title to the land is currently subject to a pending application with the Land Registry, so the identity of the present official owner is un- known. Bearsted parish councillors be-

lieve the car park is probably Maidstone’s, with some recalling the authority taking possession as part of a land swap with health chiefs when the practice was being built onMBC property. If correct, the deal does not ap-

pear to have been loggedwith the Land Registry.

Town to get one of three stroke units

HEALTH bosses have earmarkedMaidstone Hospital as a site for one of the county’s three newhyper acute stroke units.

In a decision announced on Feb-

ruary 14, theNHS saidHermitage LanewouldjoinDartford’sDarent Valley andAshford’sWilliamHar- vey hospitals to provide 21st cen- tury specialist care. Butwithurgent stroke treatment

currentlyprovidedby six hospitals in Kent, the ruling was met with anger by protestors,who claimthe move is a reduction in countywide cover thatwill put people not local to the three hospitals at risk. The Joint Committee of Clinical

Commissioning Groups met at Maidstone’s Hilton Hotel tomake its final decision. But proceedings had to be adjourned for an hour “after repeated interruptions from members of the public”.

An NHS spokesman said: “The

decision comes after a five-year re- viewof urgent stroke services, led by local specialists. The data and evidence shows centralising stroke services in three hyper acute units is the right thing forpatients. Itwill reducedisability andis expectedto save a life every otherweek. “At themoment,despite the hard

work of NHS staff, stroke services in Kent and Medway are some of the poorest in the country. That is why the stroke reviewhasworked so hard to bring about change.” The new service will give pa-

tients expert care for 72 hours after a stroke, aswell asproviding clinics for assessing and treating transient ischaemic attacks ormini strokes.

Urgent stroke serviceswill cease

in other hospitals in Kent and Medway, theNHS says. Rachel Jones, director for the

Kent andMedway Stroke Review, said: “The review has been a de- tailed and robust process, led by stroke specialists dedicated to im- proving care for patients. “We are working to address is-

sues such as travel and transport and putting plans in place tomake sure that rehabilitation and sup- port services are closer to home and better planned.” The NHS anticipates the new

service will begin at Maidstone and Darent Valley hospitals in a year’s time, andatWilliamHarvey Hospital in the spring of 2021.

Run for good cause and better health

THE Stroke Association’s “Resolu- tion Run” returns to Mote Park in March. The annual 5k, 10k or 15k event

promotes healthy living. It is esti- mated that peoplewhowalk, jog or run regularly are likely to reduce their chances of a stroke by 20%. ProfessorTomRobinson said: “You

don’t have to be an athlete to re- duce your stroke risk –we can all do it as part of our daily routine. “Simply taking part in 30minutes

of activity which helps you break a sweat three or four times aweekwill help. Remember, the more you do, themore you can reduce the risk.” He added: “It is equally important

that you need tomaintain this level of exercise to keep stroke risk low. If you start small, training in short bursts and build up gradually, you aremore likely to succeed.”

Training and running can reduce your risk of a stroke, says Professor Tom Robinson

The next Resolution Run atMote

Park is on SundayMarch 24. It costs £16 and participants receive a medal and aT-shirt. For details go to

Earn qualificationswhile you sing

AMAIDSTONE choirmaster is offering parishioners


chance to boost their qualifica- tions while they sing. Andrew Williamson, of All

Saints’,wants tunefulmembers of the congregation to enrol in NVQ-style training and assess- ment courses at the Mill Street church. He says that, fromthismonth, choristers andwould-be choris-

12 Maidstone East March 2019

ters can sign up for Voice for Life – a series of qualifications endorsed by the Royal School of ChurchMusic. “The scheme provides a com-

prehensive framework for choral singers of all ages and abilities, from beginner to ad- vanced, to develop their vocal skills, musical understanding and knowledge of repertoire,” he added.

Training modules include

voice coaching aswell as theory lessons on musical skills and understanding, the history of choralmusic, and the workings of the choir. All training and assessment is

done by the church under the direction ofMrWilliamson and senior choir members – there are no external examinations. “In order to participate, all

singers should commit to re- hearsing with, and singing in, the church choir on a regular basis – preferably, but not nec- essarily, full time,” said Mr Williamson. “Provided they re- main in the choir for a reason- able period after completing the award, they will not have to contribute to the scheme fees.” For details, email office.all-

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