Local News

Roman Fossils And Statue Discovered In Teynham

Roman Fossils And Statue Discovered In Teynham

Archaeological excavations near Teynham  have led to an exciting discovery of Roman artifacts, including a mausoleum and a stone statue of the Roman sea god Triton. The site was found during archaeological investigations related to a new housing development close to the A2 London Road, which follows the ancient Roman Watling Street.

During an initial site evaluation, fragments of chalk wall foundations and Roman cremation burials were discovered. As a result, Swale Borough Council, with advice from Kent County Council Heritage Conservation, required a 0.5 hectare archaeological excavation at site. The archaeological investigation works commenced late May 2023 by Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) who were appointed to conduct the investigation.

The recent excavations revealed elements of a 30m square walled enclosure surrounding a c.7m square structure. Further exaction works suggested the structure relates to a Roman mausoleum which contained a roman coin dating back to c.320 to 330 AD. The site also included Roman and possibly later burials with various grave goods. The highlight of the findings was the discovery of a remarkable stone statue, representing the sea god Triton.

Since the excavation in May, weekly meetings with various stakeholders, including RPS (A Tetra Tech company) consultant, CAT, Chartway and KCC Heritage Conservation, have been held to review site progress, excavation methodology and the importance of the Roman discoveries. The aim is to carefully bury and retain these key remains within the landscaped centre of the roundabout, making it accessible for generations to come to enjoy the rich heritage discovered.

The Triton statue has been carefully lifted and removed from the site for initial conservation works which have revealed the fascinating detail and craftmanship of the piece. Further research into the statue itself and the circumstances of its ritual burial are on-going.

Councillor Mike Baldock, Heritage Champion at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “This is an incredible and exciting discovery that once again underlines the rich heritage that we have in our Borough. The council regards Swale’s archaeology as one if its major assets which we are proud of and recognise in our Heritage Strategy. The site and the statue will generate a great deal of interest in our community, and we very much look forward to working with Chartway and the archaeologists to ensure that there are opportunities for local people to learn about and celebrate the finds and their Roman heritage.”   

Local Man Jailed Following 'Acid Attack' Threats

Local Man Jailed Following 'Acid Attack' Threats

A man from Sittingbourne, who stalked a woman and threatened to throw acid in her face, has been jailed.

Duncan Friend harassed and intimidated his victim over several weeks and also made threats with a knife, to people she knew.

Friend became known to the woman in December 2022 and in the weeks that followed bought her gifts including a bag, shoes, and scarf. By the end of January 2023, the victim became concerned by constant messages she was receiving on her phone from Friend, which included demands she needed to return the gifts to him.

Friend was unaware of where the victim lived, and the messages and abuse escalated as he sought to find her address. He also called her repeatedly on several different numbers, many of which were withheld.

Some of the threats were made through people known to the victim. On Friday 3rd February, a 999 call was made to police that Friend had attended an address in Chatham, linked to a friend of the victim. He was seen to take out a weapon, described as resembling a machete, from his trousers and wave it around whilst demanding the victim’s address. He was also heard shouting threats he would throw acid in the victim’s face and kill her.

Friend was arrested the same day and later bailed with conditions as officers sought to build a successful case. He continued to send threatening messages to people including the victim, and on Sunday 19th March an investigation by the North Kent Vulnerability Investigation Team (VIT) led to him being arrested again.

Friend, 51, of Woodstock Road, was charged with stalking involving serious alarm or distress (between 3rd February and 19th March 2023), and a count of possessing a knife in a public place. He pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and on Tuesday 12 September was sentenced to two years and three months’ imprisonment. Upon his release from custody, Friend will be subject to a seven-year restraining order.

Investigator for Kent Police's VIT, Holly Felstead, told SFM News: "Duncan Friend subjected his victim to relentless harassment and intimidation and his actions have impacted deeply on her daily life. Friend has caused a huge amount of distress, fear and anxiety not only to the victim but to her friends and family. We are grateful that the victim has shown tremendous courage in coming forward and helping us secure this important sentence. I would like to praise her bravery in reporting these crimes to us and urge anyone who is being abused or harassed by someone they know to tell the police as soon as possible. Your safety is our priority and we will take whatever steps are open to us to protect you and bring to justice those who might harm you."


Concerns Over Proposed Changes To Youth Services

Concerns Over Proposed Changes To Youth Services

Swale Borough Council have raised concerns about Kent County Council (KCC) proposals to change youth services across the borough. 

The council has written to Kent’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Regulatory Services, Cllr Clair Bell, to set out its opposition to cut externally commissioned youth services, as part of proposals to create new family hubs to support children and families. 

Swale Borough Cllr Richard Palmer told SFM News: “The proposed new structure will cut externally commissioned youth services, which could see nine different types of provisions delivered by the Swale Youth Consortium being lost. The suggestion that outreach youth work will be provided by KCC is unclear, and we have doubts about if this would replace existing youth work or not. The proposed hubs would be in Sittingbourne, Faversham and the Isle of Sheppey. For Sheppey in particular, the proposed location in Queenborough is a key concern due to transport links across the Island".  

Cllr Palmer then went on to add: "The services that would stop under this proposal are in some of the more rural areas, or areas identified by local partners as higher levels of youth related ASB and crime, such as Faversham and Thistle Hill.  Another concern is not all young people will want to go to a physical building, making the outreach work the external youth services provide even more important. These services have been successful with 57 new sign-ups per month according to Brogdale CIC who are one of the key providers within the consortium, with demand almost doubling since 2021.  We firmly believe that the proposal to stop youth activities in Swale would have a very negative affect on our communities".

Cllr Palmer's final comments were: “Swale doesn’t have one central town so every area and town, even the most rural, must have access to the same level of service and this is unlikely to be achieved with the current proposal.  We already experience a high level of youth related antisocial behaviour and crime, without the opportunities offered by youth services this is likely to get even worse.” 

The consultation ends on Wednesday 13th September and you can have YOUR say here: https://kent.gov.uk/familyhubservices


Upgraded EV Charging Points Installed

Upgraded EV Charging Points Installed

Electric vehicle drivers will now be able to get a more reliable charge when visiting Sittingbourne, with Swale Borough Council (SBC) upgrading the EV charging points in the Bourne Place Multi-Storey Car Park. 

The previous chargers on the ground floor of the car park were unreliable and have now been replaced with two brand new Pod Point chargers.  

These offer a total of four charging outlets for electric vehicles to use, two 22KW fast chargers and two 7KW chargers.  

The new charge points will require payment for each KW hour used, the same as our other chargers, but EV drivers can park for free by simply scanning the QR code at the charging station and following the instructions.   

These improvements are part of what the the council says is "ongoing work to encourage the take up of the more environmentally friendly electric vehicles". 

Cllr Rich Lehmann, Chair of the Environment Committee at SBC told SFM News: "We are continually looking for ways to improve our electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Whether adding new charging stations around the borough or, as is the case here, improving the ones we already have. These new chargers are more reliable and will make it easier for people to charge their electric vehicles. There is also now a simple way to validate parking at the Bourne Place Multi-Storey Car Park when you are using the charging stations.  We want to promote the use of electric vehicles in Swale and are trying to make EV ownership as accessible and convenient as possible.”   

EV drivers can download the Pod Point app for more information on where to find the Pod Point chargers around Swale borough. 


Local Man Jailed For More Than 25 Years

Local Man Jailed For More Than 25 Years

A man has been given a 26-year jail term after a violent assault on a lone woman in Sittingbourne.

In the early hours of Sunday 11th December 2022, the victim was walking near Canterbury Road when she was approached by a man she knew, Matthew Breaker.

He suddenly launched a violent attack, hitting her repeatedly with a hammer before pinning her to the floor and thrusting a blade towards her face and torso.

Patrols were called to the incident and Breaker was arrested. They also seized the hammer and two knives.

Later the same day, the Crown Prosecution Service authorised a charge of attempted murder against Breaker. He was also charged with possession of a knife in a public place.

The case went to trial at Maidstone Crown Court and Breaker, of Swanstree Avenue, Sittingbourne, was found guilty of attempted murder. He had pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article.

The 46-year-old was sentenced on Thursday (31st August) to 26 years’ imprisonment. Upon his release, he will be subject to an extended licence period of four years. He will not be able to apply for parole until he has served at least two thirds of his sentence in prison.

Investigating officer DC Poppy Edwards told SFM News: "Matthew Breaker is a very violent individual who launched a sudden and brutal attack on a lone woman during the hours of darkness, after lying in wait for her to return home. His actions were appalling, and it is only right he is now behind bars. He inflicted atrocious injuries and has shown no remorse for the lasting impact this will have on his victim. I would like to commend the victim who has shown great courage in assisting our prosecution and helping us bring this dangerous individual to justice."

Click here for further information, advice and support relating to Violence Against Women and Girls. This page also includes details on how Kent Police is tackling offences including domestic abuse, stalking, harassment and other forms of violence.

If you have been a victim of violence and wish to report an offence to Kent Police, click here.

Lib Dems Choose Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

Lib Dems Choose Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

The Liberal Democrat Party has selected it's parliamentary candidate for the Sittingbourne & Sheppey constituency for the next general election.

Frances Kneller, a 69-year-old managing director of a housing consultancy and property management company, has been chosen to stand for the party in a bid to become our local Member of Parliament. 

The Lib Dems’ group leader for Swale, and Abbey (Faversham) ward councillor, Hannah Perkin, told SFM News: "Frances is an ambitious and hard-working campaigner who was a key part of the Liberal Democrats’ historic win in Chesham and Amersham. Her background, in housing and advocacy, means she truly understands the difficulties the lack of affordable housing puts onto the shoulders of working families. So I’m looking forward to supporting her as she seeks to deliver the representation people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey deserve.”

It is understood that the Lib Dems have an open selection process where any approved candidate can apply for a seat and the local party decides who they want to represent them.

Forty Drivers Issued Fines During Crackdown In Swale

Forty Drivers Issued Fines During Crackdown In Swale

Kent Police have confirmed that 40 drivers have received fines as part of their ongoing work to crack down on motorists committing offences in Swale.

On Saturday 12 August officers from Kent Police’s Special Constabulary spent time in Mill Way, Sittingbourne, where they stopped drivers. During the operation 47 offences were identified and robustly dealt with.

Of these stops, 16 Traffic Offence Reports (TORs) were issued for motorists driving without seatbelts, one motorist was seen speeding, two were using their mobile phones and two were driving with illegal number plates.

Other offences included windows being too heavily tinted, a child not being restrained correctly, and two Vehicle Defect Rectification Notices being served after two damaged cars were seen being driven when they should not have been.

Officers also issued words of advice for offences including a tyre below the minimum tread, broken brake lights and incorrectly fitted and missing number plates.

Kent Police Community Safety Unit Inspector Vanessa Foster told SFM News: "‘Proactive operations such as these are important to ensure those motorists driving within our community understand that it will not be tolerated and that they will face consequences for committing these offences. We will continue to patrol the area and will ensure motorists seen using their vehicles dangerously, or in an anti-social manner are dealt with accordingly."


CCTV Appeal Following Knife Assault In Milton Regis

CCTV Appeal Following Knife Assault In Milton Regis

Detectives have issued a CCTV image as part of an ongoing investigation into a knife assault in Milton Regis.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the assault, which happened in North Street on Thursday 20th July. The incident took place at around 12.10pm, when two people were seen chasing a man in the direction of the High Street. It is alleged one of them tackled the victim to the floor and stabbed him in a leg with a large knife. The suspects then fled the scene.

Police attended and the victim required hospital treatment but has since been discharged. An investigation has since led to the arrests of two men, aged 19 and 22. They are both currently bailed, pending further enquiries, until Sunday 22nd October.

Officers are now appealing to anyone who may recognise the person in the image to contact them. If you have any information which may assist the investigation call Kent Police on 01795 419 119, quoting crime reference 46/139401/23. You can also call Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form on their website.

MP Visits Biomass Plant At Ridham Dock

MP Visits Biomass Plant At Ridham Dock

Gordon Henderson at Ridham, pictured in the orange jacket

Our local MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Gordon Henderson, learned how Biomass plants powered by waste wood can contribute to the UK,s energy security and net zero goals on a visit to MVV Environments Ridham Dock facility recently.

The 25MW combined heat and power biomass plant had opened in 2015 and processes 195,000 tonnes of end-of-life post-consumer waste wood each year into renewable electricity.

The visit was organised by MVV Environment in partnership with the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) and was part of the WRA’s ongoing MP engagement programme aimed at improving understanding of the wood recycling industry in the Houses of Parliament.

Prolific Swale Shoplifter Jailed For A Year

Prolific Swale Shoplifter Jailed For A Year

A prolific shoplifter, who repeatedly targeted supermarkets across Swale and stole items totalling around £1,000, has been jailed.

Mark Hewitt was responsible for a catalogue of offences since May 2023, stealing meat and alcohol from shops including Sainsbury’s, Aldi, and Marks and Spencer.

Hewitt, of Crown Quay Lane, Sittingbourne, was initially arrested by Kent Police on Sunday 7th May, as part of the force’s ongoing clampdown on shoplifting. He was charged and released on bail pending a court appearance but continued to steal. He was arrested again on 21 July and charged with further offences. While he was detained, Hewitt caused damage to police property by throwing food and urinating in his cell.

After appearing before court, the 48-year-old was subject to bail conditions prior to sentencing but his crimewave continued. On Saturday 5th August, an off-duty officer witnessed Hewitt committing another theft at a shop in East Street, Sittingbourne and it was later discovered he had taken items from the same store in an earlier incident that day.

Hewitt was arrested and whilst being taken into custody subjected two officers to a tirade of racial abuse. He was remanded to Medway Magistrates’ Court and sentenced on Monday 7th August, having pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft, two counts of racially aggravated harassment, and two counts of criminal damage. Hewitt was jailed for a year and fined almost £200.

Sergeant John Sangster, of the Swale Victim Based Crime Team, told SFM News: "Shoplifting has a detrimental impact on businesses and the local community and Kent Police takes all reports of such offences seriously. Hewitt repeatedly targeted stores in areas including Faversham, Sittingbourne and Queenborough and subjected our officers to abhorrent and unacceptable abuse. He is a career criminal who has shown no remorse for his actions. This sentence is just another example of our crackdown on shop thieves in the district, which has seen 73 charges authorised in June and July. We are continuing to focus on tackling anti-social behaviour, including shoplifting, as part of the force's ongoing Safer Summer initiative."


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