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Maidstone Mela will move to Mote Park from Whatman Park

The return of Maidstone Mela is set to fill Mote Park with music and dance from around the world once again.

The celebration of different cultures and communities living together in Maidstone has been based at Whatman Park for the last three years.

But growing popularity has seen councillors agree to send the Mela back to Mote Park, a bigger, far more suitable venue.

Maidstone Borough Council also agreed to support the event with a £5,000 grant every year for the next three years.

An MBC spokeswoman said: "The decision to relocate the Maidstone Mela from Whatman Park to Mote Park was unanimously agreed at the Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee meeting held yesterday and that the organisers would be given a grant for £5,000 per annum for three years from the council in order to help them grow the event so it can become self-financing."

Last night's decision looked a foregone conclusion after more than 3,000 people turned up to last year's Mela in July.

Councillors on both sides of the political spectrum agreed Whatman Park wasn't suitable any more as it could not offer sufficient space and parking for visitors.

At its height Maidstone Mela was drawing crowds of up to 10,000 people to Mote Park.

The last time the park hosted the event was 2015, since then it has been held in Maidstone town centre or at Whatman Park.

Gurvinder Sandher, from organisers Cohesion Plus, said: "The last three years have been a challenge, I think the community have shown there's a willingness and interest in the Mela.

"As an organisation we couldn't do any more with Whatman Park, it's a great park but there's issues with accessibility. For us it had to be Mote Park or nothing."

Maidstone Mela started in 2003 and normally takes place on the second weekend in September. Mr Sandher hopes to return to Mote Park on September 13.

Mr Sandher added: "We hold the event then as it is close to the 9-11 anniversary, we felt at the time it was important to have an event that brought communities together."

Sponsors are still being sought for Maidstone Mela, if you're interested visit www.maidstonemela.com.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone.

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