Local News

Appeal Following A Serious Assault In Sittingbourne

Appeal Following A Serious Assault In Sittingbourne

Witnesses are being sought following a serious assault of a young woman in Sittingbourne earlier today (Thursday 22nd July).

Kent Police were called shortly before 8:00am this morning to Highsted Road in Sittingbourne, to a report that the victim had suffered injuries.

Officers are currently at the scene and the young woman has been taken to a London hospital for treatment. Her condition is described as serious.

Anyone with any information, in relation to the incident, is asked to call Kent Police on 01474 366 149 quoting reference 22-0255 or, alternatively, you can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers free and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete an online form at: crimestoppers-uk.org

Council To Help Young People To Reconnect

Council To Help Young People To Reconnect

Children and young people in Swale who receive free school meals are being offered the chance to take part in a range of activities to help them reconnect with their lives before the pandemic.

Swale Borough Council have been working with local providers to subsidise a range of activities – from swimming sessions to cinema tickets – thanks to £12,500 of funding from Kent County Council’s Reconnect programme.

Cllr Richard Palmer, cabinet member for communities at the council, told SFM News: "Since the pandemic began, we have all struggled, but I do think that sometimes we forget about the impact on our children and young people. Most parents complain about their kids being on screens too much, but for large parts of the last 18 months, they – like the rest of us – simply haven’t been allowed out. It’s not just their education that has been impacted, but also their social development has been stifled by the pandemic".

Cllr Palmer went on to add: “Kent County Council are running a range of activities to help children and young people reconnect with the things they used to do before the pandemic. They have kindly supported us with some funding for activities for those children and young people on free school meals so we can help make sure they get the opportunities which we hope will help them reconnect with their pre-covid lives again.”

The activities being supported by Swale Council between Monday 26th July until Sunday 5th September are:

Subsidised swimming tickets at Faversham, Swallows and Sheerness pools:

Faversham Town Pool sessions will run between 9am to 2pm, and 2:30pm until close, every day. Under 10s must be accompanied by an adult). To book visit www.favershampools.com/booking or call 01795 532426

  • Family ticket £15 / single child £3
  • Tickets for Swallows/ Sheerness will be available from reception at each leisure centre
  • Family ticket £10 / single child £3

Subsidised activity mornings at The Light Cinema, Sittingbourne:

Activity Club mornings at The Light. You can join in the fun Monday to Thursday between the 9th and 19th August, from 9am until 11:30am. You will be able to either:

  • Watch a film + popcorn and a drink, or take part in a bowling game with popcorn and a drink (these will be running on alternate days);
  • There will be a craft activity each morning (Monday - Thursday) between the 9th - 19th August
  • Single Child Ticket: £1.99 / Family Ticket £7.96 Prebooking is essential, and will be available from the week commencing 26 July.

To find out information on how to book please contact stephcarbutt@swale.gov.uk

Subsidised heritage & education tickets for:

  • Raybel - Learn about the history of the local trading ship and take part in fun activities such as clay making (9 August), wood construction (16 August) and drawing and painted wood (23 August) for just £3.00 per person, or a Pizza Oven workshop at £4.00 per family from 30 July to 1 August. To book please visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/raybel-charters-cic-ltd-31079547521,
  • Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway - Take a ride with your family and friends on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer holidays. Tickets are £10. To book call 01795 424899 or email bookings@sklr.net
  • Bluetown – Throughout the summer they will be offering discounted family annual passes (£10) or single day visit (£2.50) tickets. To book please call 01795 662981.
  • Medway & Swale Estuary Partnership - Based on Minster Leas Beach there will be two 1/2 day activities on the 30th July and 27th August from 10am to 12:30pm. These activities are free of charge and will include Rock Pooling / Bird Watching / Clay Art. To book please contact: info@msep.org.uk.

To benefit from any of the above activities a valid Reconnect Pass/free school meals letter must be presented. Failure to present these at your bookings will mean access is denied.

Kent Police Supports ASB Awareness Week

Kent Police Supports ASB Awareness Week

Nuisance and abusive behaviour are the focus of a week-long campaign which is being supported by The Swale Community Safety Partnership and Kent Police.

Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week runs from today (Monday 19th July) through to Sunday (25th July) and has been organised by Resolve, a national agency which specialises in community safety.

Throughout the week, important advice on the support available will be shared online and this will be done on top of the work officers do on a daily basis. Such work is done in partnership with partner agencies, including councils, with the aim of preventing incidents and ensuring robust action is taken against perpetrators. 

Superintendent Pete Steenhuis, from Kent Police, told SFM News: "Anti-social behaviour is committed by a very small minority of people but it can have a wide-reaching impact on a community. We know from our engagement work that members of the public sometimes feel hesitant to make a report to us because they believe what they are experiencing does not warrant police action, but that could not be further from the truth. Abusive and nuisance behaviour has a significant impact on an affected person’s quality of life and is not something that should be tolerated. Each day our officers work hard to achieve good results for the communities they serve and they will always pursue the most robust and proportionate options available to them. Anyone affected by anti-social behaviour is encouraged to contact us so we can take action."

Throughout the week, Kent Police will be sharing advice on what to do if you are affected by ASB and members of the public are encouraged to follow Kent Police on social media. Policing teams will also be patrolling their communities and anyone who wants advice, or to bring an item to their attention, is welcome to engage with them.

Further information and advice can also be found by visiting: https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/asb/asb/antisocial-behaviour/

Anyone affected by ASB is encouraged not to tolerate it and to make a report via the Kent Police website, or by calling 101 and, if a crime is progress, by dialing 999.

Temporary Road Closures Removed Next Week

Temporary Road Closures Removed Next Week

Swale Borough Council have confirmed that the temporary road closures in Sittingbourne, Faversham and Sheerness will be removed from next Monday (19th July) following the Government’s latest announcement on the easing of restrictions.

The council said that "closures were put in place last summer to help encourage visitors back to town centres after the first lockdown by creating space to safely social distance and with restrictions coming to an end on Monday 19th July, the closures will be removed allowing traffic to use the high streets again".

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy and property at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: "we can confirm the temporary road closures in our town centres will be removed from that date. The Government has taken the view that despite rising cases the restrictions can be eased, but we are urging people to remain cautious and behave sensibly. The vaccination programme is helping to reduce the impact of the pandemic, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. We all need to do what we can to keep each other safe, and to try to avoid restrictions being reimposed later in the year. If restrictions are reintroduced in future, we will consider using the temporary road closures again as an option to help people use the town centres safely.”


Rotary Club Announce 'Community Chest' Beneficiaries

Rotary Club Announce 'Community Chest' Beneficiaries

For the the tenth year running the Sittingbourne Invicta Rotary Club have announced the beneficiaries from the 'Community Chest' fund.

Introduced by past President Peter Taffs in 2011 the Community Chest offers an opportunity for small organisations and groups in the Swale area to share in the socially distanced fund raising undertaken by local rotarians in the past year. 

In the ten years since the Community Chest was launched some £40,000 has been raised and distributed into Swale's community.

Notwithstanding COVID issues during the past year Sittingbourne Invicta told SFM News that it "has continued our long-established support for many important social and health needs across the local community" and the following fourteen successful applicants will receive grant cheques in the next few weeks from the current Club President Martin Lukehurst:-

  • The Family Trust
  • Child’s Vision
  • Vibe Community Charity
  • Sittingbourne Ladies 1st FC
  • Friendly Faces of Kent
  • Kemsley Community House Youth Group
  • Imago Community
  • Sittingbourne Community Radio
  • Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne
  • Girlguiding Sittingbourne Division & Hornhill Activity Centre
  • Young at Heart Lunch Club
  • New Leaf Support
  • 9th Sittingbourne [SA] Guides

M2 Stockbury Interchange Improvements Approved

M2 Stockbury Interchange Improvements Approved

Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, has approved Highways England's (HE) proposed improvements for the M2 junction 5 Stockbury Interchange following a public consultation.

The decision can be viewed on Programme Officer’s website. 

Highways England's South East Regional Director, Chris Welby-Everard, told SFM News: "improving the Stockbury Interchange will bring real benefits to drivers who use this junction daily, and it will improve the flow of traffic around this junction, providing a safer and more integrated network for everyone. I’d like to thank everyone for their engagement and contribution to the development of this scheme to date. We will now progress to the next phase, ready for work to begin in September.”

It is believed that the work would cost in the region of £92M. The existing roundabout will be replaced with a flyover, to provide free-flowing movement on the A249 and two new slip roads will be created with a left-turn for traffic travelling from the A249 southbound to the M2 London-bound and a left turn from the A249 Sheppey-bound to the M2 coastbound.

The (current) A249 Maidstone Road to the Stockbury roundabout will be closed, with the road being re-routed to link with Oad Street. The existing junction of Oad Street with the A249 will be closed with a new link provided south of the existing Oad Street to connect with the roundabout.

The main construction work is expected to start in September, with preparation works taking place beforehand.

Elderly Teynham Man Defrauded Of Over £100,000

Elderly Teynham Man Defrauded Of Over £100,000

A rogue trader has been sent to prison after tricking a man into spending more than £100,000 on unnecessary repairs to his house.

The retired Teynham resident first encountered Abey Smith (pictured above) in April 2016 when he received a card offering home improvements through his letterbox, leading to him agreeing to pay £45 for his guttering to be cleaned. But over the course of the next year he repeatedly lied to the man about further work he said needed to be carried out, charging ever increasing prices whilst carrying out substandard work such as painting roof tiles to give the impression they had been replaced.

Smith, 50, of Rookery Gardens, Orpington, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday 15 June 2021, having previously been found guilty of committing fraud by false representation.

The court heard how Smith, who worked under the trading name of Roof Seal and Home Improvements, did not supply an estimate, invoice or any other paperwork when first employed by the victim to clean his guttering, nor at any other point in the months that followed. After carrying out each piece of work, he would find new areas of the property that he would claim were in need of repair to ensure his services were always required and falsely told the victim he would be able to claim it all back on his insurance.

The spending eventually stopped in February 2017 when the victim attempted to withdraw a large amount of money from his bank, who raised concerns for his welfare and advised him to contact the police. He did and an investigation into Smith’s activities commenced, during which time he continued to approach the victim for work. As part of the enquiries carried out by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, an expert witness was asked to review the repairs that had been carried out and the amounts that had been charged for it. He concluded that none of the work was necessary or justified and that if they were then it should not have cost the victim any more than a total of £3,300.

Smith was arrested at his home address on Wednesday 10th May 2017.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Roger Harris of Kent Police, told SFM News:"‘The offences committed by Abey Smith were deplorable. He took advantage of the trust that had been placed in him by a man who was entitled to enjoy his retirement after working hard for many years  – a concept that is completely alien to a dishonest criminal such as Smith. I am pleased that the court has seen fit to impose a custodial sentence in this case, as it sends a strong message to anyone else who thinks it is acceptable to lie and cheat in order to make a living."

DC Harris went on to say: "The actions of people like Abey Smith tarnish the good name of the vast majority of tradespeople who work with honesty and integrity, and carry out repairs to a high standard. This should also serve as a warning to other householders to be cautious of who you allow to carry out work on your property. Always ensure you are provided with a quote in advance, and always get a second or third opinion if someone calls at your address claiming there is something wrong with your home that they can fix."

For advice on dealing with doortep crime visit: https://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/consumer-protection/doorst....

Tributes Paid To Former Mayor Lesley Ingham

Tributes Paid To Former Mayor Lesley Ingham

The Mayor of Swale, Cllr Paul Stephen has offered his condolences to the family and friends of former Mayor Lesley Ingham, who passed away last week.

Lesley was the ward councillor for Sheppey East from 2007 to 2018 on Swale Borough Council, serving as chair of the licensing committee for several years and as the borough's Mayor for the 2016-17 civic year.

Cllr Stephen told SFM News: “On behalf of Swale Borough Council, I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of former councillor and Mayor of Swale Lesley Ingham who sadly passed away recently. During her year as Mayor of Swale, Lesley showed her caring manner to everyone she met. Lesley was respected and liked by all her peers and performed her duties as Mayor with great gusto along with her Mayoress, Ms Ashlee Brawn, her daughter. Lesley supported and promoted her chosen charity, Perthes’ Disease during her mayoral year and raised over £600 for the charity. Family and friends were very important to Lesley and she will be sorely missed by all that knew her.”

Cllr Ken Ingleton, who represents Minster Cliffs, told SFM News: “Lesley was a very pleasant and accommodating woman who worked very hard for her locality and for the people she represented.”

Mrs Ingham’s daughter, Ashlee, thanked everyone for their kind words, thoughts and prayers and told SFM News, on behalf of the family: “The support we have had from our close friends and family has been overwhelming. There are far too many people to name individually, but I’m sure they know who they are.”

It is understood that a funeral service will be held on Friday 25th June.

KFRS Respond To A Kitchen Fire In Milton Regis

KFRS Respond To A Kitchen Fire In Milton Regis

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) are reminding the public to keep cooking areas clear following a kitchen fire in Milton Regis earlier today (Tuesday 15th June).

Two fire engines were sent to the scene just before 11:00am after receiving reports of a fire in the property on Newbridge Avenue and the building was heavily smoke-logged on arrival. Crews used hose reel jets to extinguish a fire in the kitchen, before clearing the property of smoke with a high pressure fan. 
One occupant and two pet dogs were rescued from the house, and the occupant was passed into the care of South East Coast Ambulance for smoke inhalation. The fire is believed to have started accidentally due to an item being left on the kitchen hob. 
Following the incident, firefighters are reminding the public to keep cooking areas clean and clear at all times. You should also ensure you have working smoke alarms on each level of your home to alert you in the event of a fire.

Cocktail Bar Fined For Breaching COVID Rules

Cocktail Bar Fined For Breaching COVID Rules

A local business has been fined £1,000 for breaching COVID legislation.

Lang’s cocktail bar, on St Michael’s Road, was fined £1,000 by Swale Borough Council last month (on Tuesday 25th May) after failing to adhere to the legislation.

During step two of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown from 12th April to 17th May, hospitality venues could serve customers outside. To qualify as outdoors, outside areas had to be less than 50 per cent enclosed.

Following up on a complaint, the council found that Lang’s outside area was too enclosed to qualify as a usable outside space.

Cllr Angela Harrison, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at the council told SFM News: “Our COVID Compliance Officer visited Lang’s cocktail bar in Sittingbourne following a complaint about their outside area. We discussed possible options with the business owners that could make their outside area covid compliant. However, these changes were not made, and the business continued to operate illegally. As a result, they were fined £1,000 for non-compliance with COVID regulations".

Cllr Harrison went on to add: "Since the introduction of step one of the roadmap on 29th March, we’ve followed up on 23 complaints, and spoken to 58 businesses who contacted us for advice. Our covid marshals also carried out more than 50 business checks every week during May. The majority of businesses are following government guidelines and are covid compliant. However, we will fine those that deliberately ignore the need to operate a safe environment for customers and staff.”

If you find out about compliance for businesses and venues you can visit the government’s business support page for more information: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.


Subscribe to Latest 106.9 SFM Local News

100% Local Radio for Sittingbourne