News Fewer are now

on furlough JUST over a fifth of adults in the county were on furlough at the end of April, writes Ciaran Duggan. Outside Medway, Maidstone

had the highest number of workers on the job retention scheme. The latest government statistics

show furloughed employees fell by 22% since the end of March, when non-essential retail and leisure businesses, as well as outdoor hos- pitality settings, re-opened. Provisional figures estimate by April 30, a total of 71,800 people in Kent and 11,700 in Medway were on furlough. This accounts for 21% of those el- igible; the majority of those were employees in the accommodation and food service sector, with 17,850 in Kent and 2,650 in Medway. Most were female with an esti-

mated 38,300 women in Kent and 6,300 in Medway. Maidstone had the most people outside of the Medway Towns esti- mated to be on furlough at 8,330. The furlough scheme was intro-

duced to help employers retain and to pay their staff through the pan- demic.

Tesco store to share site with restaurant

PART of a much-loved curry house in Coxheath will be re- placed with a new Tesco Express store, writes Jade Schopman. Spice Lounge owner Anhar Ali, pictured, says the pandemic has hit the Heath Road restaurant hard and planning permission was granted last year to turn the back building into a convenience store. Construction is due to start on

July 5 with the store opening in the first quarter of 2022.

The restaurant will operate a takeaway and dine-in service and, once the Tesco store opens, it may open as a café during the day. Coxheath councillor Simon

Webb said the plans were “com- pletely inappropriate”. Cllr Webb said: “I think it is highly inappropriate when its res- idents are crying out for a public meeting place like a pub. A pub would make money for the owner

and is what the residents want.” The new store will also feature

an ATM machine. Mr Ali said: “I know there are

mixed views about it, but you can’t really win. People thought that when May 17 came and restric- tions eased, the restaurant would be busy, but that is not the case. “The timing of the project is just

right. With the popularity of the take-away business and reduced demand for dine-in customers, this project will benefit both myself and the local community.”

Spice Lounge will remain closed from July 5 whilst groundworks take place. Subject to progress, it will look to re-open in October this year.

Tinking about fostering but not sure where to begin? Join one of our free

events for a good, general overview, including how to become a foster parent, the different types of fostering and how we carefully match children with families.

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Introduction to Fostering

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