Local News

Sittingbourne's Victorian Station Bridge Demolished

Sittingbourne's Victorian Station Bridge Demolished

One of Kent's oldest rail bridges, at Sittingbourne railway station, has been demolished.

Network Rail engineers used a crane to demolish the original iron pedestrian bridge at the station, in St Michael’s Road, overnight (Saturday 30th January).

The Victorian foot bridge was one of the oldest in the county and was lifted out of the way and taken away for scrap.

A Network Rail spokesperson told SFM News: "it had come to the end of it's life and it was not safe to continue to use".

 
*Pic courtesy of 106.9 SFM's Matthew Judd.

Petition Set Up To Reinstate Bus Route 333

Petition Set Up To Reinstate Bus Route 333

An online petition has been set up to re-instate the 333 Bus service between Faversham and Sittingbourne once the public start to use public transport again after Lockdown III.

The petition has been set up by Labour Swale Borough Councillor for St Anne's Julian Sanders.

Arriva axed the 333 bus route between Faversham and Sittingbourne from Monday 4th January because, it claimed, it was being underused during the pandemic. If it is not re-instated communities along the A2 like Bapchild, Teynham, Norton and Ospringe will have fewer buses and at some stops none at all because the remaining buses take a different route. Cllr Saunders cites "more passengers using local buses to travel between these growing communities will help reduce congestion and pollution".

As one member of the public said on social media “Arriva should make this a temporary discontinuation, This service was well used before the pandemic and it is a very short-sighted move.The only reason it is not being used at the moment is due to the COVID restrictions and the Government’s request that public transport is only used as an absolute necessity. Another said "it is a crucial service for some school children and the elderly. I also use it to get to work at Faversham Hospital, but now I have to use the [Stagecoach] Canterbury service which leaves half hour earlier, meaning i have to set off for my shift 90 minutes before my start time".

If you wish to support the petition to get the service re-instated please visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bring-back-the-333-bus.

All Local Care Home Residents And Staff Vaccinated

All Local Care Home Residents And Staff Vaccinated

All care home residents and staff across the Sittingbourne area have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, less than two weeks after the vaccination hub opened up at Heather House.

Dr Shaun Potter (pictured above), Practice Manager of The Chestnuts Surgery in East Street and the lead for the hub, told SFM News: "We have now given the first dose to all our care home residents and staff  in Sittingbourne. We had been given guidance from the government that this should have been completed by Thursday 18th February, so we are well ahead of this target with us having vaccinated well over 5,000 patients since opening. We have now done all the over-80s, with their first doses - apart from those who had COVID-19 at the time or those who didn't turn up, but we have rebooked them back in. Now we are targetting the 75-80 age bracket and we hope to get through that group next week and then to move onto those over 70 for the following week".

Tune in to Tony Weaver and 'In The Bourne' weekdays 11am - 1pm for the latest local news and information during Lockdown III.

 

Support Scheme For Families Affected By Pandemic

 Support Scheme For Families Affected By Pandemic

One hundred and ninety-seven families impacted by COVID-19 have received pre-packaged essential food boxes through Swale Borough Council’s COVID Winter Support Scheme.

The scheme is a partnership between the council, West Faversham Community Centre and Diversity House, who have processed and delivered a total of 398 food boxes to residents’ doors, supporting 707 people across the borough since its launch last month.

The boxes have been a helping hand to those who have had a change in their financial situation, received a positive covid test, are self-isolating following contact from the NHS Test and Trace system or experiencing a change of personal circumstances because of the pandemic.

Nine different pre-packaged essential food boxes including essentials such as pasta, soup, fruit, cereal, toilet roll and handwash, alongside vegetarian, Free-From, Afro-Caribbean, Eastern European, and Asian boxes to meet the various dietary, cultural and religious needs of local residents are available, and each box provides enough food for seven days.

Cllr Richard Palmer, cabinet member for community at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: "The winter support scheme is a new service that is in direct response to those who are suffering hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far we’ve delivered 355 pre-packaged essential food boxes to people who are struggling to feed their families. West Faversham Community Centre and Diversity House have been working hard to process applications and deliver boxes to people’s doors."

He went on to add: "We’re aiming to deliver a minimum of 2,000 boxes this winter, so I encourage anyone who has received a reduction in income, loss of employment, positive covid test result or other change in personal circumstance due to the pandemic to get in touch. Once your application is submitted, our community support team will carry out an assessment. If successful, an essential food box will be delivered to you within a couple of days. We know this has been a difficult year for people and we’re doing everything we can to help support families experiencing exceptional hardship this winter.”

 For more information, or to apply for the winter grant scheme please visi:t www.swale.gov.uk/cwgs

Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible people must:

  • have recently been made unemployed within the last two months and are still out of work
  • have been furloughed and receiving less income
  • have lost income because you cannot work from home
  • are not already receiving support from Kent Support and Assistance Service (KSAS), local foodbanks or food support services
  • are currently self-isolating because of a positive COVID-19 test or you’ve been contacted by NHS Test and Trace
  • are currently receiving support from the Swale Borough Council self-isolation payments
  • are leaving your home because of domestic abuse
  • are currently living in temporary accommodation
  • have recently been discharged from hospital.

Those NOT eligible include people who:

  • are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 14-day quarantine period)
  • continue to receive full wages
  • are self-isolating without a positive COVID-19 test result or without being contacted by NHS Test and Trace
  • are already regularly receiving support from KCC's KSAS (Kent Support and Assistance Service) , local foodbanks or food support services.

Appeal For Witnesses To Lower Halstow Collision

Appeal For Witnesses To Lower Halstow Collision

Investigators are appealing for information following a collision near Lower Halstow last week.

At around 8.45pm on Wednesday 20th January, a dark coloured Ford Fiesta was involved in a collision with a cyclist on Raspberry Hill Lane, at it's junction with Basser Hill.

Patrols attended the scene where the car had left in the direction of Lower Halstow prior to their arrival. The cyclist suffered injuries that did not require hospital treatment.

Investigating officer, Police Sergeant Chris Skilton told SFM News: "It is only by chance the cyclist did not suffer more serious injuries and we are seeking to identify the driver of the Ford Fiesta. Our officers are urging anybody who witnessed this incident to call the appeal line. We would also ask drivers who were in the area to check for any dashcam footage that may assist the investigation.’

Anyone with any information is asked to call 01795 419119, quoting reference 20-1258 or alternatively they can call the independent charity, Crimestoppers Kent free and anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org.

Suspect Charged With Defrauding Pensioner

Suspect Charged With Defrauding Pensioner

Kent Police have confirmed that two charges have been authorised against a fraud suspect, after an elderly man from Sittingbourne was found alone in Chatham town centre.

The investigation began on Saturday 9th January after Kent Police received a call from staff at a taxi company who were concerned for a man in his 80s.

The elderly man, who was safely taken home by attending officers, reported that he had made a cash payment to a man who claimed to be from Swale Borough Council, purportedly for work to be carried out at his property.

He also reported that he had been taken to Sittingbourne and Chatham town centres, where unsuccessful attempts had been made to obtain money at a bank and a pawnbroker.

Following an investigation by detectives in the Swale Criminal Investigation Department, Danny-Lee Andrew was arrested on suspicion of fraud offences on Saturday (23rd January).

The 28-year-old, from Maidstone, was later charged with two counts of fraud and has been remanded in custody to attend Medway Magistrates’ Court on Monday (25th January).

Safety advice from Kent Police

Cold callers can go to great lengths to appear genuine before attempting to coerce, or intimidate, victims into handing money. They tend to target people who they suspect to be vulnerable, including the elderly.

The following advice can help reduce the chances of being defrauded:

  • If you receive a request for payment, make a note of the caller’s details and end the call. Avoid paying a cold caller on the spot.
  • Research the agency which the caller claims to be from. This can include checking the agency online, or asking a friend or relative to do so on your behalf.  
  • If you do return the call, dial an official number you have sourced and not the one the caller provided.
  • Never hand over money to a courier who has come to collect money.
  • If you suspect the call was fraudulent, wait for at least five minutes for the line to clear before contacting Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Kent Police on 101. If possible, use a handset on a different phoneline to make the call.

For information please visit: https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/asb/asb/antisoc...

+DETAILS OF THIS INCIDENT WERE PREVIOUSLY REPORTED IN OUR 'KCC SCAMS' UPDATE+

Pizza Hut Confirm Closure Of Sittingbourne Branch

Pizza Hut Confirm Closure Of Sittingbourne Branch

Pizza Hut UK have confirmed that their branch, on the Sittingbourne Retail Park in Mill Way, has permanently closed.

A Pizza Hut Restaurants spokesperson told SFM News:"Unfortunately the Sittingbourne closure has been beyond our control and we are doing everything we can to redeploy our team members to other Pizza Hut Restaurants in order to minimise the impact to our workforce. We understand this is a difficult time for everyone involved and are supporting our team members as much as we possibly can."

Pizza Hut, like other restuarant and hospitality venues, was forced to close all its branches temporarily on 23rd March 2020, in line with the COVID-19 government guidelines in the initial Lockdown with the vast majority of its UK restaurants reopening in August last year when Pizza Hut took part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Prior to the pandemic Pizza Hut, which trades in the UK under franchise from its US-based owner Yum Branchs, had 244 restaurants in the UK and employed around 5,450 people.

Landslip Near Newington To Affect Train Services

Landslip Near Newington To Affect Train Services

Train services between Sittingbourne and Rainham will be stopped from 9pm tonight as Southeastern carries out emergency repair work following a landslip on an embankment in the Newington area.

A number of other trains will also be affected, including the high speed service which will now operate between St Pancreas and Rainham. London Victoria services will only run between Gillingham and London Victoria and services from Ramsgate and Dover Priory will terminate and start back from Sittingbourne.

The Sittingbourne to Sheerness-On-Sea service will run as normal, following work to the Kingsferry Bridge part of the line earlier today.

Southeastern are advising customers to make their journey through the area before 9pm, if they can, as journeys will take longer and social distancing on replacement buses "may not always be possible".

As always, stay tuned to 106.9 SFM for the latest information.

Leader Says Brenley Corner Upgrade Urgently Needed

Leader Says Brenley Corner Upgrade Urgently Needed

Swale Borough Council's Leader, Roger Truelove, has responded to questions from Cllr Julian Saunders at the council meeting  on Wednesday 6th January about the much-needed upgrade of Brenley Corner in Faversham.

Cllr Saunders asked the leader about his view of the strategic importance of improvements to Brenley Corner and to outline Kent County Council’s position.

Cllr Roger Truelove, Leader at the council, told SFM News: “Improvements to Junction 7 of the M2 must be a principal infrastructure priority for us, Kent County Council (KCC), and the Government. It is essential for local, domestic, and international transport and trade now that we find ourselves in the position of coming to terms with new economic norms. Planners and politicians have spoken for the last decade about having two strategic transport corridors through Kent, but the delivery of this has been constrained by the inadequacies of Junction 7. It has been said to be a strategic priority for some time and has direct impact on the A249 corridor, yet progress is glacial. The current design that mixes strategic and local traffic is inadequate and causes it to operate below capacity.

Cllr Truelove went on to add: “Brenley Corner was included in the Government’s Roads Investment Strategy (RIS2) for a study in the period 2020-2025, however that does not guarantee any funding for the project. We are pressing for an urgent upgrade to Brenley Corner for economic and infrastructure reasons, but also for clarity and certainty for our revised Local Plan. Highways England have stated that local development should make sufficient contributions to fund the upgrade needed but this is not good enough. It would not meet the need to serve the growth of strategic national and international traffic flows, or for any future housing which neighbouring districts will have to deliver in response to Government targets. The government must provide more certainty about improvements at Junction 7. Without this, the strategic route, to and from Dover, will remain substandard and the growth opportunities available to Swale and East Kent will be severely limited.

To sum up Cllr Truelove said:  “In terms of KCC’s position, they support Highways England and collaborate with them on design work, however it seems they accept the serious funding delay until after 2024 – or maybe longer. This isn’t a Swale issue; it’s a Kent issue, particularly for East Kent. Historically infrastructure developments such as Junction 5 of the A249 have been a distraction from the issues at Brenley Corner but these now need to be raised up the political agenda as a matter of urgency.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Centre Opens In Sittingbourne

COVID-19 Vaccination Centre Opens In Sittingbourne

Today (Saturday 16th January) saw the opening of Sittingbourne's COVID-19 Vaccination Centre.

The centre is located in Heather House, the Age UK charity's building, on the Avenue Of Remebrance in the town centre.

Shortly after 8:00am this morning the first Pfizer vaccination was given to an 88-year-old local lady, the first of 352 people to be seen today.

Dr Shaun Potter, Practice Manager at The Chestnuts Surgery on East Street, spoke to Tony Weaver on The Saturday Breakfast Show at 7:30 this morning, to tell our listener's more:-

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