Local News

KCC Blue Badge Enforcement Day Held

KCC Blue Badge Enforcement Day Held

A day of enforcement action to combat the incorrect and fraudulent use of Blue Badges has been carried out in Swale.

Kent County Council’s Counter Fraud team joined Swale Borough Council’s Parking team as they visited several streets and car parks last Thursday (4th August) to check that the badges were being used by the authorised person and in the correct way.

Throughout the day civil enforcement officers were trained on how to inspect blue badges and taught about the importance of establishing if badges were being used in accordance with the scheme. The inspections took place in Sittingbourne, Faversham and Isle of Sheppey.

Blue badge holders spoken to throughout the day, welcome the news and gave positive feedback about the need for badges to be inspected on the Borough.

In total 209 people had badges inspected and most people spoken to were using the badge in accordance with the scheme. The civil enforcement officers ceased 13 badges that had expired and spoke to an additional 13 people regarding blue badges and answered any queries that arose regarding the scheme.

The eligibility criteria change has increased the number of badges used in Kent and KCC feel that "it is paramount that available spaces are used for legitimate purposes".

Clair Bell, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, told SFM News: "The Blue Badge scheme is there to support vulnerable people in maintaining independence and access to services. Abusing the scheme by using badges not belonging to you, deceased people’s badges and stolen badges for personal gain is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The Blue Badge Scheme is an important service for people with disabilities or health conditions that enables badge holders to park close to where they need to go. While most blue badge holders respect the rules of their use, KCC along with Swale Borough Council will not tolerate the abuse of the system by the minority who take advantage of the scheme.”

Cllr Elliott Jayes, vice-chair of the community committee at Swale Council, told SFM News: “We were pleased to be teaming up with KCC to tackle the fraudulent use of blue badges. The majority were used correctly and those who were found to be abusing the scheme were dealt with appropriately. We will be cracking down on the misuse of blue badges in Swale, and this joint enforcement day is just the beginning.”

Anyone suspecting misuse of a blue badge can report it directly online at: www.kent.gov.uk/reportfraud.

Cocaine And Heroin Seized During Search Warrant

Cocaine And Heroin Seized During Search Warrant

A suspected Sittingbourne drug dealer has appeared at court following the seizure of heroin and cocaine.

Last Thursday (4th August) Kent Police executed a search warrant issued under the Misuse of Drugs Act at an address in Kemsley.

During the search of the premises, 48 deals of cocaine, 19 wraps of heroin, a quantity of herbal cannabis, three sets of electronic scales and three mobile phones were seized.

The constables also seized four knives and a man was arrested and taken into custody.

Tommy Saunders, of Phillippa Court, Sittingbourne was later charged with possessing cocaine with intent to supply, possessing heroin with intent to supply and possessing a class B drug.

The 18-year-old appeared before Medway Magistrates’ Court on Friday (5th August) where he was bailed to a hearing at Maidstone Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.


Councillors Approve Electric Vehicle Strategy

Councillors Approve Electric Vehicle Strategy

A plan for futureproofed, accessible, and affordable electric vehicle charging has been agreed by Swale Borough Council.

Councillors have approved the council’s electric vehicle strategy, which outlines how they plan to meet the future demand for electric vehicles in Swale by creating a network of charge points that meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors by 2030.

The EV strategy was approved at the council’s environment committee meeting last month (Thursday 30th June), the first since it moved to a committee system earlier this year.

Cllr Julian Saunders, chair of the environment committee at the council, told SFM News: “The electric vehicle strategy has been in the works for a while, and I’m pleased to say that we have a futureproofed plan that aims to provide the infrastructure we need to support the move to electric vehicles ahead of our target of net-zero across the borough by 2030. Of course, we have limitations that we must work around, but what we’ve got now is a plan we can start on as we continue to have conversations with Kent County Council and other key stakeholders. We don’t manage the local road network, so when finding solutions for on-street charging such as chargers on lampposts like you see in cities, we need to work with KCC to find and implement solutions. In the meantime, we’re installing council owned charge points in our car parks, which helps us keep charging prices lower for residents.”

Cllr Tim Valentine, vice chair of the environment committee at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We’re delighted to have a strategy that outlines how we create the infrastructure needed as people make the move over to more sustainable vehicles. We’ll be focussing on areas with high levels of on-street parking demand, air quality management areas and solutions for rural areas. As part of the strategy we also agreed on how we move forward installing 18 new charging bays with funding we received from the Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) in car parks near areas without driveways for charging.

He went on to add: “We received more than £100,000 from the OZEV and contributed £42,000 from our improvement and resilience fund, and plan to install new Pod Point charge points at Albany Road in Sittingbourne, Queens Hall in Faversham, and additional charge points at Rose Street in Sheerness. To meet the funding criteria, we’re installing 7kw chargers - which are suitable for a slow overnight charging - in our car parks by the end of the year.”

You can view Swale Borough Council's strategy at:- www.cee.swale.gov.uk/what-were-doing/planning.

Iwade Man Fined £22k After Depositing Illegal Waste

Iwade Man Fined £22k After Depositing Illegal Waste

The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted an Iwade man, who was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay £6,779 costs, a £190 victims’ surcharge and £11,086 in compensation to Iron Mountain (UK) PLC, at Sevenoaks Magistrates Court. The total came to £22,555, with the magistrate took into account his guilty plea during sentencing.

Michael Shilling, aged 61 and of Raspberry Hill Park Farm in Iwade, pleaded guilty to controlling, or being in a position to control the use of, a Scania skip loader. He also pleaded guilty to knowingly causing waste to be unlawfully deposited at Gills Terrace, Otterham Quay Lane in Rainham, a site owned by Iron Mountain (UK), on Monday 14th December 2020. CCTV captured Shilling's truck entering the site 3 times.

Matt Higginson, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency, told SFM News: "This prosecution and the seizure and crushing of the vehicle shows that we will search out and prosecute anyone found to be dumping waste illegally. Illegally depositing waste without regard for the environment and the law has the potential to harm our natural resources. It is also a blight on communities and undermine the legitimate businesses that follow the rules. You won’t get away with it. We encourage everyone to check that their waste collector is registered as a waste carrier".

The waste found on site was shredded material comprising plastics, paper, mattress fabric and fibre and an employee of Iron Mountain (UK) made a statement saying the waste was smouldering when he arrived at work at the site on Tuesday 15th December 2020. On Thursday 25th February 2021, an Environment Agency officer, accompanied by Kent Police, visited Raspberry Hill Park, near Iwade and they located the lorry used on 14th December to deposit the waste. The Environment Agency and Kent Police seized and crushed the vehicle for alleged waste offences.

CCTV Image Released Following Assault

CCTV Image Released Following Assault

A CCTV image has been released by police as part of an investigation into an assault in Sittingbourne earlier this month.

Officers would like to talk to the man in the image, or anyone who recognises him, in connection with the assault which was reported to have happened on Saturday 2nd July at around 11:00pm inside a pub in West Street.

The victim, a man in his 20s, was inside The Vineyard Pub when he was reported to have been punched in the face by a man not known to him, causing him facial injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police on 01795 419119 quoting reference 46/127711/22 or, alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers free and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form on their website:- https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-ano....

Mecca Bingo Hall Set To Close Next Month

Mecca, Bingo Hall, Set To Close, Sittingbourne, August

The Rank Group have announced that the Mecca Bingo branch, at the bottom of Sittingbourne High Street, is to close next month on Sunday 17th August.

In a statement, the company said: "We’re very sad to confirm that Mecca Sittingbourne will be closing, and we want to say a huge thank you to every single one of our incredible customers for their loyalty and support for the last 48 years. We’ll keep you updated on Facebook on what our plans are for the coming weeks and when we have a confirmed closing date in August."

Rank operates 76 bingo clubs across the UK and opened in Sittingbourne in 1974 sharing the location with, what was then, the Odeon Cinema latterly The New Century Cinema.

Mecca Bingo, like all local businesses, was heavily impacted by the pandemic and had to shut its doors until July 2020, when it re-opened with cleaning rotas and safety measures having to be put in place under strict Government guidelines regarding hospitality venues.

Sheppey Crossing Closure Overnight Tonight

Sheppey Crossing Closure Overnight Tonight

As water supply returns to the Isle of Sheppey, Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) have confirmed that they "will begin to withdraw resources from the island throughout the day".

Between 1-3pm today (Friday 15th July) KFRS will clear hose line from the Ridham Dock area, during which time traffic will be managed with the assistance of Kent Police.

Overnight tonight crews will remove the high volume pump hose on the Sheppey Crossing bridge, resulting in the closure of the carriageway that allows traffic onto the island (northbound), between midnight and 4am. They say that "this hose has been essential for firefighting water and providing water for livestock that would otherwise have used public drinking water supplies".

During the closure, access for traffic will be via the Kingsferry Bridge.

Man Charged With Shop Jewellery Theft

Man Charged With Shop Jewellery Theft

Local officers, from Swale’s Community Policing Team, acted swiftly to arrest a man after a £4,000 chain was reported stolen from a jewellery shop at the weekend.

The theft happened after a man entered the shop in Sittingbourne High Street on Saturday (25th June) morning at around 10:00am.

While inside the suspect is alleged to have tried on a gold chain before he ran from the store while still wearing the jewellery.

Following the incident Kent Police were called and a man was later arrested in the town at 7.50pm.

William Brazil, aged 30 and of Barrow Grove, has since been charged with theft.

Mr Brazil has been bailed to appear before Medway Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 28th July.

Power Workers Rallied For Scout Campsite Makeover

Power Workers Rallied For Scout Campsite Makeover

A dedicated Scout leader has pulled together a team of electricity workers for a makeover at a Sittingbourne Scout campsite.

UK Power Networks’ engineer, Paul Austin, led improvements to Bexon Lane Scout Campsite with a team of power workers, after raising £800 from a sponsored walk with colleagues to buy equipment for the challenge.

His ‘DIY-SOS'-style makeover team of electricity linesmen, substation fitters and project managers repaired a climbing wall roof damaged during winter storms, painted containers housing activity equipment, installed shed lighting, built a new base for a flagpole and painted gates and fences.

Paul has spent 20 years supporting the Scout movement in Kent during his free time, helping young people experience outdoor adventures, right on their local doorstep. He currently serves as a water sports adventure leader in the county.

Paul told SFM News: “As the former district commissioner for this campsite I feel passionate about keeping this site in good condition, maintaining access to adventurous outdoors activities for young people right across the county. We rely on dedicated volunteers who do a brilliant job keeping the campsite in good condition for thousands of young visitors, and our volunteers needed our help. My colleagues have a broad variety of practical skills which I knew would make a big difference. I’m so grateful for their hard work which will help many young people in Kent who enjoy using this special site. I’m proud of my colleagues who worked extremely hard. We achieved our goal to complete some major projects which will benefit Scouts visiting us from across the county.”

The 12-acre site offers outdoor activities for youngsters aged between four and 18, from traditional campfires and archery, to climbing, go-karting, and other activities.

The volunteers from UK Power Networks gave their free time through Donate a Day, a company initiative giving all staff two paid days per year to work on projects in their local community.

Angela Palmer, district commissioner for Sittingbourne, Milton and District Scouts, told SFM News: “We are extremely grateful for the work UK Power Networks has carried out. Without their help, we were unsure when we would be able to reopen the area to young people. The young people are now able to experience activities they would not be able to do if it was not for their help. We want to say a big thank you to the team.”

Appeal Following Assault In Oak Road

Appeal Following Assault In Oak Road

Witnesses are being sought following an assault in Sittingbourne yesterday afternoon (Friday 17th June).

At around 4.05pm Kent Police were called to a report that a man had been assaulted in Oak Road.

Officers attended along with South East Coast Ambulance Service and the man was taken to a London hospital with a serious injury consistent with a stab wound.

A 20-year-old man from the Sittingbourne area was arrested later that evening on suspicion of assault and possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

The suspect and the victim are understood to be known to each other.

A knife and suspected class A drugs have been seized as part of an ongoing investigation.

Anyone who maybe witnessed the incident, or who has CCTV or dashcam footage of a green Ford Fiesta in that area around that time, is asked to call Kent Police on 01795 419119, quoting reference 46/116720/22 or, alternatively, they can contact Kent Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously by calling 0800 55 5111, or using the online form on their website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.


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