Maidstone East Edition Malling Edition

October 2017 April 2019

Churches face closure as funds crisis looms

Panto ahoy!

RELIGIOUS leaders are struggling to make ends meet and protect churches from closure.

THE cast of Cinderella, which is to be staged at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maid- stone, took to the River Medway to launch this year's panto. On board The Kentish Lady were national treasure Rustie Lee (Fairy Godmother), former EastEnder Ste- fan Booth (Prince Charming), Eliza- beth Bright (Cinderella), Craig Anderson (Buttons) and, pictured, Stephen Richards and Adam Bor- zone (Ugly Sisters) . They were greeted by pupils from

the institution which has defined Malling communities for cen- turies, faces a future of rising costs, falling attendance and a po- tential shortage of clergy. The situation has become so

pressing that dioceses in Kent have instigated wide-ranging consultations on how they should be funded in future. Anna Drew, diocese director of communications,

South Borough Primary School and members of the media. The panto runs from December 1-31. For tick- ets go to

In a perfect storm, the Church,

Mail: “Perhaps, in the past, we felt there were more important issues to attend to than money, but now we need this bigger conversa- tion.” Bankrolling Malling’s ancient

churches is a major challenge for vicars, the laity and congrega- tions. Around 80% of these iconic

buildings in Kent are grade I listed and require expensive spe- cialist care and maintenance. Many are not energy efficient, re- sulting in basic bills, like heating, topping £8,000 a year. Crucially, each church is also

CCTV call in a bid to stop fly-tipping

told Downs

CALLS for the installation of CCTV cameras to prevent fly-tipping on a country road have been made by the local borough councillor.

Burberry Lane, near Leeds and Broomfield, has been targeted by waste dumpers for years, but in re- cent months, the problem has be- come more acute. Constructionwaste, rubble, hard

core, windows and household fur- niture is left illegally – often strewn in the middle of the road. Cllr Gill Fort said: “Every month

expected to pay the diocese a “parish share” – a set contribution to central church funds which covers the cost of hiring the clergy and paying for the wider church’s

we are having toilets, sinks and construction waste dumped in the village, specifically in Burberry Lane, where we are now thinking of installing cameras on private land, to oversee the problem area.” A recent event in Burberry Lane

saw a caravan burned out while a torched car remains on a footpath

nearby, more than a year after it was dumped and set on fire. The church car park has also seen

many instances of illegal dumping. But it is a problem in many rural

areas including Langley, Otham and Kingswood. Water Lane in Bearsted and Pilgrims Way have also been targeted recently. Last year, Maidstone Borough Council cleared 911 cases of fly-tip- ping and this year more than 163 have been recorded since April. The approaching darker evenings will prompt a rise in illegal tipping. Cllr Fort welcomed a joint initia-

tive by the Environment Agency and the Driver and Vehicle Stan- dards Agency to clamp down on

ministry and charity work. With 50% of vicars approaching

retirement in the next five years, the diocese will have to find the money to recruit new clergy and support the pensions of those who step down. At present, local churches are

mainly financed at grassroots level by grants, legacies, fundrais- ers, weddings and the collection tray, prompting religious leaders and the clergy to question the sus- tainability of this approach. Rev David Green (pictured),

vicar of St Mary’s, West Malling, and rector of St Michael’s, Offham, told Downs Mail he sup-

unlicensed waste carriers, but be- lieves the cost to small firms of dis- posing of construction waste at a transfer station is proving a deter- rent that is costing councils more. Cllr Fort made her remarks as

one of the borough’s closest trans- fer stations at North Farm, Tun- bridge Wells, announced it will be closed for 10weeks. She added: “If you go along the

ports the concept of a parish share, which costs his churches about £45,000 every year. But he says the dioceses of

Rochester and Canterbury also have to “cut their cloth” according to the current financial climate. “People are very generous, but

line of increasing fines, they have to be enforced. A reduction in the charge or offering it free may have the desired similar effect.” Athree-monthly litter pick on the mile-long stretch of road through Leeds village produces an average 32 black sacks of rubbish.


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parish councillor, says teaching children about social responsibility and the issue of litter in schools will help take the issue off the streets. She believes with every household receiving a weekly refuse collection service, there is no excuse for litter being thrown from vehicles or dumped in the road.

Robbery charge

DETECTIVES have charged Ronan Cruise (19), of no fixed ad- dress, on suspicion of robbery and attempted robbery following two incidents in Aylesford. Mr Cruise was due to appear before Medway Magistrates’ Court as Downs Mail went to press.

there is only so much money available,” he said. “We can change the finance model, but it won’t fix the problem.” He not only suggests the two

dioceses look to streamline their operations, but also believes all parish ministers should preside over more than one church. Special report page 8

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Kate, 107, dies News

KATE Hart, a resident at an old people’s home in Bearsted, has died aged 107, her son David has disclosed.

HELEN Whately asked the government to halt the borough’s housing scheme.

Pupils’ rights respected3

MP’s Local Plan bid Body found in lakes4

Plans for Dr Nigel

A PRIMARY school has been given a top UN honour for its work promoting the rights of children.

THE widow of GP Dr Nigel Minnet will walk the Grand Canyon for charity. 12 Cake ban defended

Jason Donovan date

THE former Neighbours star brings his show to the Hazlitt Theatre next May.


A HEAD teacher, who banned birthday cakes and sweets at school, is standing up to online trolls.


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Parish Councils 26 Obituaries

DEFIBRILLATOR training has been scheduled in Addington; youngsters in East Peckham have been given permission to practise bike tricks in the multi- use games area; residents in Offham voice concern about trucks taking the wrong route.


Crime Reports 26 Parish Councils 34-35

ASH dieback has been discovered in Monks Meadow in Detling; Hollingbourne village fete stall- holder co-ordinator Jean Duffy has resigned; yellow lines are needed for Buffkyn Way, Otham, to allow buses through Imperial Park; rub- bish bins in the sports field in Kingswoodare to be moved over to the picnic area and rear exit.

Cllr Fort, who also serves as a Town Talk

A WINDOW and door were smashed in East Malling; lights were stolen from a house in Lark- field; a diesel jet wash engine was taken from a parking bay in Aylesford; a copper tank and metal was stolen from a house in Ditton.

Comment 34-35 Crime Reports 35

VEHICLES have been driven over farmland in Lenham, causing damge to crops; an attempted break-in was reported in Detling; a vehicle was vandalised in Bearsted Rd, Weavering; pumpkins were stolen from an allotment in Lenham.

Comment 46-47

READ how it’s all change at Snodland Town FC, as the popular club gets a £58k cash injection towards new changing room and club house facilities, in Town Talk, the bi-monthly independent magazine dedicated to Snodland and Halling residents.

POLICE have recovered the body of a missing pensioner from Leybourne Lakes after a major search.

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