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News


Author’s Kent vision in print


A MAIDSTONE author has pub- lished a “dystopian” novel imag- ining Kent as an independent state ruled by a puritan dictator. Barming resident Fred Atkins, a former cricket journalist with As- sociated Press, spent the COVID- 19 lockdowns finishing “Kippers”, after three years of trying. The book, which was published


on January 1 by Back Page media, is set in the future, when the county has broken free from the rest of the United Kingdom as the “Democratic Republic of England” after the discovery of oil in the Weald of Kent. Under the new regime, the con- sumption of alcohol is banned, the press is controlled and dissenters are sent to a prison hulk called The Liberty, anchored off Sheerness. The plot revolves around an MI6


agent who has been assigned to the new republic as a punishment. Mr Atkins, pictured, who was


the co-writer for England spin bowler Monty Panesar’s 2019 au-


tobiography The Full Monty, said: “I’ve spent the pandemic attempt- ing to finish something I started writing three years ago. “It was originally intended to be


funny, but it turned into a Cold War hellscape and I thought I’d better publish it before it actually happened.” Kippers started out as a sequel to


his first novel in 2017 called Wel- come to Kent: Sorry About The Racists, published by Kent Fiction.


Hazlitt plan delay


A MEETING to decide the future of the Hazlitt Theatre has been delayed.


Maidstone Borough Council’s Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee was due to convene on January 19. MBC claims the delay is to


“allow work to be completed on a number of options for the future sustainability” of the venue. The authority blamed recent changes to the COVID-19 status of the borough, meaning it was “difficult for solid, fully remod- elled business forecasts” to be prepared by the council and the contractor, Parkwood Theatres. MBC’s leadership caused up-


roar when it sought to terminate the Parkwood contract to save


cash in the face of falling revenues caused by the pandemic. The theatre has been unable to


stage any major events and has been closed for much of the past year.


MBC saw little point in paying


Parkwood for services it could not provide, but critics are afraid if the Hazlitt was to close, there would be little chance of it reopening. An MBC decision in November


to mothball the theatre was later overturned, allowing a deferment for greater clarity to be sought. The vote was split down party


lines – the Liberal Democrat and Labour coalition, which runs the council, was beaten by the Tories, one independent and a rebel Lib Dem.


OBE for Vivienne


HEADCORN’S Vivienne Artz, chief privacy officer at Refinitiv Financial Solutions, and president of Women in Banking and Fi- nance, has been awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours for services to financial regulation and financial services and gender diversity.


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