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Hundreds take to the water for Dragon Boat race

Preparing to take to the water Credit: ITV News Meridian

38 teams are taking to the water for this year's Dragon Boat Race in Kent. Organisers think that more than £50,000 will be raised for charity. Teams of 11 will be battling it out to make it through to the finals at the end of the day.

All aboard! Credit: ITV News Meridian

Harvesting the sunshine, solar farms set to soar

The number of solar farms in the South East is set to soar.

One of the latest could cover 66 acres and is planned for Great Tong Farm, South of Maidstone. Campaigners say it will ruin the local environment. But those in favour - feel we've got to produce more renewable energy.

The number of solar farms are increasing. In the south east region - so far, 44 have been built; 45 are under construction or awaiting construction - and planning applications are in for a further 37.

The developers of the site at Tong Farm told us :

"We believe that solar energy supports rural communities and we consult at every stage of the process."

Sarah Saunders spoke to Shellina Prendergast from Protect Our Weald; Hilary Newport from the Campaign for Rural England and Paul Barwell form the Solar Trade Association.


Public meeting for largest solar farm in the country

As planning applications for new solar farms soar, proposals for one of the country's largest solar developments is meeting stiff local opposition.

The solar farm would cover 66 acres at Great Tong Farm near Maidstone.

At a public meeting tonight, residents and industry representatives will air their views.

ITV Meridian spoke to local resident Shellina Prendergast.

Plans approved for 150-bedroom hotel in Maidstone

Plans for a new 150 bedroom hotel in Maidstone have been given the go ahead. The plans for the hotel on the 16 acre Eclipse Park, also include a restaurant and conference facilities.

The plans include 150 bedrooms, a restaurant and conference facilities Credit: Maxim

Nick Yandle, Chief Executive of Gallagher Group, said: "We can now enter into serious negotiations with a number of operators who have already expressed interest in developing a hotel of this size in Maidstone.

It is clear that the site's proximity to the recently opened Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery, make it a very attractive proposition for a hotel operator.

"The planning officers were particularly impressed with the quality of the proposed design and we look forward to delivering a hotel that supports Maidstone's business and visitor economy."

Sex offender who travelled from Hants to Kent is jailed

Darren Andrews Credit: Kent Police

A man who travelled from Aldershot in Hampshire to Maidstone to sexually abuse a young girl has been jailed for 6 years. Darren Andrews, 33 years-old, and formerly of Cambridge Road in Aldershot, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

He was also given an extended licence period of five years for public protection. Andrews made arrangements online to abuse an eight year-old girl, trading emails and text messages as he made his plans. The exchanges however were with a law enforcement officer.

On 17th January 2014 Andrews travelled to Maidstone to sexually abuse the girl, but was arrested by officers from the Kent Police child exploitation investigation team.


Man jailed for three years after selling ecstasy

Valentino Aghssa has been jailed for three years for selling ecstasy in a Maidstone Credit: Kent Police

A man who sold drugs at a bar in Maidstone has been sent to prison.

Valentino Aghssa, who is 30-years-old, was sentenced to three years and three months in jail for possessing ecstasy with intent to supply.

He was searched at the Source Bar in Maidstone on 20th July 2013 after another man who had been detained for a drugs search pointed him out as the man who had sold him drugs.

He was arrested at the bar after a total of 25 pills and £380 were seized from him.

The pills were found to have a street value of £250.

Man charged with burglary

A man has been charged following a report of a burglary at a newsagent in Maidstone.

The offence was reported to have occurred between 20 and 21 April in The Broadway.

On 21 April 30 year-old Nicholas Gibbs, of The Broadway in Maidstone, was arrested and later charged with burglary other than dwelling.

Having been charged, Gibbs was released on bail and will appear before Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on 12 May.

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