Local News

Swale Borough Council Sets 2019/20 Council Tax

Swale Borough Council Sets 2019/20 Council Tax

Band D households will will be paying £3.35 per week for Swale Borough Council's portion of the Council tax services from April.

Council tax for the 2019/20 financial year was set at last night's full council meeting, with band D households set to pay £174.42 a year to the council, an increase of £4.59 (2.7%).

Most properties (63.7%) in Swale are in bands A-C meaning that their rise will be even less than this.

Cllr Duncan Dewar-Whalley, Cabinet Member For Finance at the council, told SFM News: "Dark Stormy clouds are on the horizon. We have to look to a very uncertain future. Most importantly this budget will give the new administration, whatever the political make up, in May a sound and solid foundation to work from and will be able to use our assets to the best advantage, regenerating our borough, making certain that our investments provides a regular income to offset annual costs and to contribute to our self financing strategy".

Charges for Swale Borough Council services are only one element of the final council tax bill residents receive. The charges being for a band D property are:


Band D

Increase (%)

Kent County Council



Kent Police and Crime Commissioner



Swale Borough Council



Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority



For more information about council tax, visit www.swale.gov.uk/council-taxThe council meeting discussing the proposals took place last night (Wednesday, 20th February) and the report can be viewed on the council's website. Areas with town or parish councils will also have to pay for their services. This is set by each individual parish/town councils, and averages £43.13 where applicable.


Distinctive Tattoo Leads To Jail For Sheerness Burglar

Distinctive Tattoo Leads To Jail For Sheerness Burglar

A distinctive tattoo on a burglar's hand has led to him being jailed for seven and a half years after he admitted threatening a woman with a knife in Sheerness.

Charlie Gannon, 21, of Valley Side, Chingford, was jailed on Friday (15th February) at Maidstone Crown Court after he admitted one count of aggravated burglary.

The judge heard how Gannon, along with three other men, targeted a house in Sheerness High Street at around 1.00pm on Sunday 7th October 2018.

The victim was in the living room of the house with her young child when the men knocked on the door. She opened the door and the group asked to speak to a man inside the house.

The victim then shut the door to check if the man was available, however when she returned to the front door Gannon stated they were there to rob them and shouted to the victim to go upstairs and hand over valuable items.

As he was saying this Gannon and another man forced their way into the house with the victim then hearing one of the men shouting about using a knife.

The woman shouted for the other men to help and at this point Gannon and the other man started backing up towards the front door. The woman managed to push both men out the front door and close the door. Gannon and the other man continued to push and kick at the door before they leave.

Following the incident officers then carried out an investigation identifying the people involved.

CCTV from the property revealed one of the men had a distinctive tattoo on his left hand. Officers then cross referenced this from a social media profile on Facebook and Gannon was identified. Forensic results also confirmed two fingerprints found on the front door belonged to Gannon. The other three people involved have not yet been identified.

Gannon was arrested on Monday 8th October 2018 and subsequently charged.

Investigating officer PC Mike Wills told SFM News: "This was a frightening incident in which four men attempted to enter a home where a child was present, in order to commit a robbery. Not only was force used to gain entry but the presence of a knife also increased the fear felt by the victim and I would like to commend her bravery in attempting to and ultimately pushing Gannon and the others out of the property. Gannon has received a lengthy sentence which reflects the level of violence used in this incident."


'Rat Run' Bus Lane Being Enforced

'Rat Run' Bus Lane Being Enforced

The Kent Police Swale Local Policing Team 3 spent some time this morning (Monday 28th January) on the Great Easthall Estate following complaints by local residents and public transport users.

Great Easthall Way, between Freeman Drive and Oak Road, was targetted in response to drivers repeatedly contravening no entry signs and using a designated 'Bus Lane'.

19 traffic offence reports were issued, which carry a £100 fine and 3 points on the driving licence for each driver concerned.

Bus company Arriva Kent announced last Wednesday (23rd January) that it was having to cut it's service to the Great Easthall Estate because of the dangers posed by cars illegally using the bus-only route - that links the estate to Oak Road - as a rat-run.

Oliver Monahan, area managing director for Arriva Kent and Surrey, told SFM News: "Unfortunately, with immediate effect, we have had to temporarily stop serving the stops on Great Easthall Way and Mulberry Way on the 349 service in Sittingbourne. This is because of the significant dangers posed by cars illegally using the bus-only lane at Great Easthall, running the risk of a head-on collision between a car and a bus on the single lane bus lane."

He added: "We're currently working with the relevant authorities to resolve the issue and are keen to start serving the stops again once it is safe to do so."

We will keep you updated on this story online and On Air.

Van Fire Causes Long M2 Delays

Van Fire Causes Long M2 Delays

There have been long delays on the M2 motorway at Junction 5 (Sittingbourne) this afternoon, after a broken down van caught fire.

Traffic on the London-bound carriageway was held just after the Stockbury roundabout to allow emergency services to get to the scene and deal with the blaze.

The road was closed for around an hour causing long delays. No injuries have been reported.


Man Charged With Theft Following Shopliftings

Man Charged With Theft Following Shopliftings

A Sittingbourne man has been charged with theft after he was arrested by officers following a foot chase.

Shane Baker, 30, of Bluebell Drive in, Sittingbourne, has been charged with two counts of theft after being arrested on Thursday (17th January).

The charges relate to incidents on Monday 7th and Wednesday 16th January at a shop in Sittingbourne where, on both occasions, three bottles of alcohol were reported stolen.

Mr Baker was spotted in Sittingbourne riding a push bike and failed to stop for officers when requested to do so. He was pursued by an officer on foot and arrested near London Road.

He was charged and bailed to appear before Maidstone Magistrates' Court on Friday 15th February, however he was subsequently remanded in custody as he was wanted on a recall to prison.

House Fire Tackled In Sittingbourne

House Fire Tackled In Sittingbourne

Kent Fire And Rescue Service (KFRS) Firefighters dealt with a fire at a house in Peregrine Drive, Sittingbourne earlier today (Tuesday 15th January).

Fire crews were called at around 10.20am and had to wear breathing apparatus using two hose reel jets, a main jet and water from a local street hydrant to put the fire out.

The fire broke out in the roof space and affected the first floor of the two-storey terraced property.

There were no reported casualties and the cause of the fire is yet to be established.


Critical Water Main Replacement For Borden Village

Critical Water Main Replacement For Borden Village

A £520,000 scheme to replace a three-inch pipeline, in Pond Farm Road and Wises Lane, is set to get underway on Monday 14th January.

The pipe, which has burst 25 times in the last five years and 14 times since 2015, is set to be replaced with a larger pipe which can withstand high water pressures and deliver a more resilient drinking water supply for the future.

South East Water's Project Manager Jeremy Dufour told SFM News: "There have been a high number of customer contacts and complaints over bust pipes in Borden in recent years and the situation is now critical requiring replacement of the old water main. We are also taking the opportunity to increase the capacity of the local network to further safeguard future supplies of top quality drinking water to our customers."

The replacement water main work is expected to take 25 weeks although engineers hope to complete the project earlier by drilling the new pipeline rather than cutting open trenches in the road surface.

Traffic diversions will be in place at Pond Farm Road, then Wises Lane, as work gets underway.

For further information and for the road diversion map please click here.

Man Fined For Carrying Waste Without A Licence

Man Fined For Carrying Waste Without A Licence

An Eastchurch man has been convicted and was fined £500 on Monday 17th December at Medway Magistrates Court for illegally carrying waste, in a prosecution brought by Swale Borough Council.

Keith Hodgson, aged 56 and of Shannon Place, was pulled over as part of Operation Assist, in co-ordination with Kent Police on Wednesday 20th June 2018. He was carrying waste on his truck in Eurolink Way, Sittingbourne, but was found to have no waste carrier licence and no waste transfer notes. His vehicle was also impounded by police for having no insurance.

He was issued two Fixed Penalty Notices as a way to discharge his liability totalling £600 but failed to pay. He was also ordered to pay court costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £50.

Cllr David Simmons, Cabinet Member For Environment And Rural Affairs at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: "We have the power to issue on the spot fines to carriers who don't have the right waste transfer papers, and the police can and will seize vehicles if necessary. As well as taking action to catch those who fly-tip, we are urging people who need to get rid of waste to do their part. Anyone who takes away waste must have a licence. Simply ask to see it, and if they can't show one, find someone who does. If you don't, and the waste is found dumped, you could be prosecuted."

To check whether someone is licenced to carry waste visit the Environment Agency website or call 03708 506506. A new Fixed Penalty Notice for householders comes into force in January 2019. Anyone who fails to check that their waste carrier has a licence could be given a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice. For more information about fly-tipping, and details of what the council are doing to tackle it, visit www.swale.gov.uk/fly-tipping.

Cousins Jailed After Arson Incident In Stockbury

Cousins Jailed After Arson Incident In Stockbury

Two cousins have received prison sentences following a violent disturbance at a private address near Stockbury earlier this year.

At 6.20am on Saturday 5th May, William Smith, aged 29, and 23-year-old Eli Smith, went to a static caravan in a yard off the A249 occupied by two men and two women who were known to them. They smashed the patio doors and started to cause damage inside the caravan, which was also destroyed by a fire during the incident. William Smith also drove a car into some parked Transit vans owned by the victims.

The occupants of the caravan got out and were later found by attending officers standing on a grass verge at the side of the A249. Police patrols, including armed officers, and Kent Fire and Rescue Service went into the yard where the fire was extinguished. The caravan had been completely destroyed and two vans had been damaged. Officers later recovered 13 shotgun cartridges from the scene.

William Smith had left the yard and was arrested later that day, while Eli Smith was tracked down in Sittingbourne and arrested on Tuesday 8th May. William Smith, of Miller Close, Kemsley, later pleaded guilty to affray while Eli, of Lewis Close, Faversham, admitted violent disorder. They were jailed for 19 months and 33 months respectively at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday (21st December).

William Smith's father, also called William, is due to be sentenced in the New Year after pleading guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, and violent disorder.

Investigating officer, Detective Inspector Chris Greenstreet, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, told SFM News: "This was a very violent incident and it is only chance that nobody in the caravan was seriously injured. These convicted men have shown no remorse and a lengthy prison sentence is entirely appropriate".


Justin Welby Visits Demelza For Christmas

Justin Welby Visits Demelza For Christmas

The most senior bishop in the Church of England, Justin Welby The Archbishop Of Canterbury, made a surprise visit to Demelza Hospice in Bobbing on Friday (21st December).

He was given a tour by the president of Demelza Richard Oldfield and the Chief Executive Ryan Campbell and stopped to speak to children receiving palliative care and their families, as well as various kitchen, grounds and reception volunteers at the hospice.

The Archbishop told SFM News: "Every child and young person is a precious gift from God, and the care and support offered by Demelza is inspiring. At Christmas we remember how Jesus came to bring light to the world - and it's been wonderful to witness the light and joy brought by Demelza into the lives of so many families".

Demelza's President Richard Oldfield told SFM News: "It was wonderful to have the Archbishop at Demelza and to see him spending time with children and their families. It was really inspiring for all of us. The connection between the Archbishop's office and Demelza is very special".


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