Community Centre complaint

Contributed by editor on Jan 13, 2005 - 10:00 PM


Dear Sirs,

It is with some regret that I have to write you this letter.

I was the photographer at your community centre on the 20th of December 2004.

I was asked by Frances Metcalfe (Franz Academy) to take pictures of any interested persons during the evening. I was shown to a room and set up a mobile studio and that is where I worked all evening.

At the end of that busy evening I broke the studio down and prepared to leave.

Taking all the cameras with me, and as I left I mentioned to the man who unlocked the door to let me out that it would take a few trips to the car but that I would be as quick as I could, to which he replied, take as long as you like, and I thanked him.

Returning from the car to the hall the doors were locked so I rang the bell and after a while your man appeared at the door and asked me what I wanted and I told him that I wanted the rest of my lighting, his reply was that I couldn’t have any of it because Frances hadn’t paid her bill.

I pointed out that this was nothing to do with me and that he should take this matter up with her.

I spoke to your man at length trying to find the middle ground so that I could get my lighting back but to no avail.

This whole sorry incident seemed to hinge on a payment asked for on the night by your man to Frances, and that there should have been a charge for the Heritage room of sixty pounds, but this was then changed to twenty pounds payment in cash (no questions asked). Frances refused to pay.

To cut this long sorry episode short I offered to pay the twenty pounds to your man so that I could retrieve my lighting but he said it was too late.

I did involve the police who told me that it was a civil matter and they couldn’t attend to mediate for that reason, although as your man left to go home by taxi I did pass him my phone and he did speak to the police but showed no interest in what was being said to him and passed me back the phone.

I watched your man leave in the taxi, Frances left soon afterwards, and I left at around 1.30am and this incident started at 11.45pm

The last thing that I did before leaving was to photograph what was left of my lighting in the room that I had been working in, as I had seen your man remove four of my lights from that room for a reason known only to him.

What I find strange is why would he move some of the lights and not the other three?

Why would he come back to the Community Centre in the morning after 1.30am and move the rest of it?

And why would he take the two least expensive items and lock them in a cupboard?

I would find this strange to say the least.

Needless to say I am not happy with what happened that night/morning, and certainly less happy to be told that nobody had confiscated my lighting.

What I know is that I left Hawkinge Community Centre minus my lighting, your man gone ,and the Centre locked up.

Who told your man that he could act in this way? 

He kept telling me that each person that he had spoken to on the phone that evening told him to lock the Centre and to keep all possessions left until Frances had paid her bill, and yet I was told the next morning that he hadn’t spoken to anyone on the phone that night, and yet as I saw he was on the phone rather often to somebody.

You will in due course receive a bill from me for the confiscation of my lighting and the fact that while your man was at work (doing his proper job as he called it) I was at your Community Centre collecting my lighting and not working as I should have been.

I have never encountered an incident of this kind and don’t wish to again, and I would strongly suggest that you look very carefully at who you leave in charge of the paying people who hold their functions at your venue in the future.


Phil Medgett.

Peter calls for action on drunken behaviour

Contributed by editor on Jan 13, 2005 - 06:08 PM


Following the BBC documentary about local police dealing with drunken behaviour shown on Monday evening(10 January), Lib Dem campaigner Peter Carroll has added his voice to calls for action

Peter said, 'I had a night out on patrol with the Police some months ago and saw that kind of behaviour first hand. The Police handle it very well under the circumstances but they shouldn't have to face that level of abuse and people in Folkestone should have the right to walk through their town centre without having to run the gauntlet of that kind of behaviour'.

Peter said, 'The night time economy might make money out of selling drink in the way featured, but it must miss out on the revenue that could be made from law abiding people being frightened away'.

Peter believes: " Being drunk and disorderly, abusing a Police Officer and violence whilst drunk should be treated more severely - £50 fines are not a deterrent.

" The licence trade and drinks industry should have to pay a tax towards Policing town centres to fund more Police officers. Football clubs have to help pay for Policing their games. The drinks industry is making big profits out of this industry.

" Many of the people I saw in that film were definitely underage because I know them and their families. This should be ruthlessly cracked down on.

" Special 'mega deals' should not be allowed - like all you can drink for £10.00

" In the long term, schools will have to have more emphasis on educating people from an early age."

Peter continued; "People in Folkestone should have the right to walk through their town in the evening without worrying about being abused, intimidated or frightened."

"I am also aware in Folkestone that drunkenness often leads to violent assault with racial overtones on many staff who work in fast food outlets."

Young dancers kicked out of Community Centre

Contributed by editor on Jan 12, 2005 - 11:36 PM


A children’s modelling and dance academy, which held classes at Hawkinge Community Centre, has been told it is no longer welcome after the Principal complained about the behaviour of a member of staff there.

It follows an alleged incident at the academy’s Christmas show held at the Community Centre on the evening of December 20th, 2004.

Frances Metcalfe, who runs the Franze Academy of Modelling and Commercial Jazz, said: “I was put in a position where I had to complain about the behaviour of a member of staff.

“I had a meeting with the management and was told to put my complaint in writing and that an investigation would be held.

“On December 29th I received a letter informing me that there had been a thorough investigation into my complaint and that we were no longer able to use the Community Centre, with immediate effect.

“At this stage they had not even received my written complaint.�

Bewildered by this response Mrs Metcalfe contacted the Chairman of the centre’s Board of Trustees, John Heasman, who claimed to have no knowledge of either the alleged incident or the letter informing her she was no longer able to hold classes there.

She took her fight to last night’s (Wednesday) meeting of the Parish Council where she demanded to know whether or not there is an official complaints procedure in place at the Community Centre and asked for their definition of “a thorough investigation�.

She told members of the Parish Council, including John Heasman and George Hodgson who are both on the Board of Trustees at the Community Centre: “To my mind this was a well-run show.

“I was the compere and had a Kent County Council licensed chaperone taking care of the children backstage as well as parents helping out.�

Cllr Heasman said she was welcome to hold her classes in the Village Hall in future if she wished.

Cllr Hodgson said that the Trustees were in the process of preparing a statement regarding the matter.

Tunnel closures will hit local commuters

Contributed by editor on Jan 12, 2005 - 12:20 PM


Commuters travelling between Folkestone and Dover are facing months of disruption because of repairs to the railway tunnels, between the two towns.

Work on the 160 year old Shakespeare, Abbotscliffe and Martello tunnels, is due to begin on 30 April and will last for four months.

Buses are expected to replace trains while work progresses on the £10million project, and rail travellers will need to add extra time to their journeys.

Academy plans approved

Contributed by editor on Jan 12, 2005 - 10:40 AM

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Shepway District Council last night (11 January), approved plans to build a new 'super school' o­n land adjacent to the Channel School in Folkestone.

The recommendations will now be passed to Kent County Council for final approval.

The Folkestone Academy would be a new state school with a centre of excellence for the creative arts, European culture and languages.

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Local radio joining forces

Contributed by editor on Jan 12, 2005 - 09:01 AM


Next Monday (17th January), competition and rivalry will be put aside as
the local radio station KMfm, formerly Folkestone and Dover's Neptune Radio,
will be joining other UK commercial radio stations to create UK Radio Aid.

The fundraising station will specifically focus on
raising money for the children affected by the Asian Tsunami and support them as
they to start to rebuild their lives and look to the future.

The Stations will
suspend broadcasting their usual schedules from 6am to 6pm , and air one single
star-studded programme to an estimated audience of over 20 million listeners
across 200+ stations, the biggest ever UK commercial radio audience.

Those taking part have agreed to donate one day’s
profits. Listeners will be asked to donate one hour of their time or money to the appeal.

Mark Story, chairman of UK Radio Aid said: � I am immensely proud of and
grateful to our colleagues across commercial radio who when asked for an
extraordinary response to this disaster were all in immediate agreement to unite
for this very special day.

"Although this is a response to a tragedy, the day will be very much about
hope, with a lot of fun and extraordinary entertainment thanks to the generosity
of the artists, presenters and radio companies involved."

Listeners will be able to donate via phone, text or by clicking on

Online for top award

Contributed by editor on Jan 12, 2005 - 12:01 AM


The man spearheading Shepway Council’s drive for improved electronic access to council services is in line for a national award.

Martin Skeats, the council’s e-Government co-ordinator, will be one of the finalists at the first e-Government National Awards ceremony at the Institute of Directors in London on 19 January.

Martin was nominated for helping to develop an e-payment system that allows customers to pay anything from a parking fine to their council tax online. 

“Using the website is more convenient for our residents. It enables them to make the payment at any time it suits them. They are not bound by office opening hours and it is cheaper than using the telephone.

“It also benefits the council. It is more efficient and saves money. It can cost up to £1.17 in staff time to handle just one phone call and we can take hundreds of calls a week. Making payments online uses existing technology to improve what we do.�

He said credit should go to the IT team at the council for helping to develop the online payment system. “Although I will be going to the awards ceremony, it is very much a team effort.�

Ian Watmore, Head of the Cabinet Office’s e-Government Unit, said e-Government was going to transform the way central and local government interacted and communicated with the people they served.

“For many organisations, technology has fundamentally changed their relationship with customers. Customers demand more of the organisation they interact with.�

Police get tough in motoring crackdown

Contributed by editor on Jan 11, 2005 - 02:52 PM


Police are to crackdown on dangerous or careless driving and behaviour which is threatening to road users following an announced by Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, Home Office Minister Caroline Flint and Richard Brunstrom, Head of Road Policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Priorities will include, denying criminals use of the roads by enforcing the law,  reducing road casualties, tackling the threat of terrorism, reducing anti social use of the highway and enhancing public confidence and reassurance by patrolling the roads.

It announcement sets the Police commitment to deal with all forms of illegal and anti social use of the roads, including drink driving, speeding, dangerous or careless driving and behaviour which is threatening to road users – including pedestrians as well as drivers. 

The strategy aims to tackle these through:  a highly visible police presence on the roads, continued operation of the National Safety Camera Programme for cutting casualties and deaths at collision blackspots,  a national police Drink and Drug Driving Campaign and a national police Seat Belt Campaign to increase the level of seat belt wearing, especially in the rear-seats and by children.

Circus brings litter message to town

Contributed by editor on Jan 11, 2005 - 02:35 PM


Children from ten Shepway schools are learning this week how they can help the countywide Clean Kent campaign to tackle litterbugs and fly-tipping. 

Theatre group Circus Takeaway are performing their show 'What a lot of litter!'  at Cheriton Primary school tomorrow (12 January) to get across serious messages in a fun way with plenty of audience participation, magic tricks, juggling and comedy.

Clean Kent - supported by Kent County Council, Shepway District Council, Kent Police and other agencies - is taking the live theatre show to 120 schools around the county as part of its campaign.

If you see someone fly-tipping or dropping litter, contact your district council or the 24-hour KCC contact centre on 0845 345 0210.

KCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Richard King said: "It is important that we get the message across to children about fly-tipping and litter in an appealing way. This drama production is an excellent vehicle for Clean Kent to spread the news about looking after your local environment."

Howard calls on local council aid for tsunami rebuilding

Contributed by editor on Jan 11, 2005 - 02:13 PM


Folkestone and Hythe MP and Conservative Leader Michael Howard has called on the Government to encourage local authorities to establish special community to community reconstruction aid schemes to help areas of South East Asia hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

He made the plea in the House of Commons after Prime Minister Tony Blair warned MPs that the total death toll in the disaster was more than 150,000, with 871 Britons now unaccounted for, and 51 so far confirmed dead.

Mr Howard launched the Shepway tsunami appeal on Friday ( 7 January)