Fire breaks out at troubled flats

A WOMAN was rushed to a Lon- don hospital after a fire on the fourth floor of a block of flats in the centre of Maidstone. The air ambulance was scram-

bled to Star House, Pudding Lane in the early hours of Tuesday, Jan- uary 5, after the blaze took hold. The street was coned off while

six fire crews, paramedics and po- lice dealt with the incident. The British Red Cross and Kent

Fire and Rescue Service’s volunteer response team were on the scene to help other residents. Fire officers launched an investi-

gation into the cause of the blaze, which may have started in the kitchen, but police have indicated they do not believe there were sus- picious circumstances. Star House has become the cen-

tre of renewed concerns in recent weeks, after an alleged stabbing of a woman there last month. Two London councils, Newham

and Waltham Forest, lease proper- ties as temporary accommodation for residents they are unable to house in the capital. Local residents say the block has become a hotspot for crime and an- tisocial behaviour. One told Downs Mail: “No one

wants to demonise people living there. The people from London can only go where they are sent. Asso- ciated with this type of accommo- dation is a group of hangers-on, who don’t even live there, and there has been trouble. “Most people living in that block

are nice, friendly and keen to inte- grate, but there has been an in- crease in problems there.” Londoners at the building re- portedly blamed Maidstone resi- dents for causing problems. Locals claim there are parties

into the early hours, people shout- ing and banging on doors as well as drunks sleeping on the floor. Pizza venue plans

A FIVE-FLOOR “events centre” is set to replace a much-loved pizza restaurant in the heart of Maidstone. Unity Parties Limited has submitted a licence application to convert the former Pizza Express branch in Earl Street into The Green Room. The venue will include

live music, a whisky room, a cocktail bar, a pizza restaurant, a record shop and a radio station. Director Richard Carerra

said he intends for the new eatery, called The Back- yard Company, to open as a takeaway for now, until it can officially open the site to the public in mid-March. The application also in-

cludes extending trading hours from 8am to 4am. The request reads: “The

4am variation is for vari- ous functions including dance music, comedy and live entertainment.” The former Pizza Express

restaurant closed its Maid- stone branch back in Au- gust, due to the pandemic.

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