Local News

Housing Allocation Consultation Coming To An End

Housing Allocation Consultation Coming To An End

People still have a few days to submit their opinion on the proposed changes to Swale Borough Council’s housing allocation policy.

The policy aims to provide a fair and transparent system that prioritises social housing by making efficient use of the homes available, promoting choice to applicants and developing sustainable mixed communities.

Agreed by the council's cabinet for public consultation in June, the eight-week consultation ends this coming Friday, (2nd October).

Proposed changes include tapering income considerations to provide a more realistic approach for single people and larger families that are at opposite ends of the spectrum is up for consideration. Another suggested change is moving homeless households from band C to B to make it easier for them to be moved from temporary housing into permanent accommodation. There is also a proposal to reduce the amount of time a resident is expected to have lived in the area from four to two years.

Cllr Ben J Martin, cabinet member for housing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We’re hopeful that these proposed changes to the housing allocation policy will have a positive outcome for residents who are in desperate need of social housing. The reduction in time needed in the borough, more realistic approach to income considerations, and changes that make it easier for people experiencing homelessness to move from temporary to permanent housing will prioritise those with the greatest need. Providing local and affordable housing is a key priority to use and we want to hear what local people think. We urge anybody who hasn’t yet taken part to get in touch and let us know your views.”

To find out more about the consumatation and take part visit www.swale.gov.uk/news-and-your-council/consultations/housing-allocations-policy-2020.

Two Men Jailed For Conspiracy To Steal Vehicles

Two Men Jailed For Conspiracy To Steal Vehicles

Two men have been jailed after investigators found photographs of stolen property on their mobile phones that proved they were responsible for a spate of thefts across west Kent and Sittingbourne.

Darren Mills (left) and William Adams (right) conspired to steal vehicles, trailers and plant machinery between Sunday 1st December 2019 and Tuesday 18th February 2020.

Together they stole three vans, two Land Rovers, a trailer, a climbing wall, a high pressure jet washer and attempted to steal a further trailer from locations including Sittingbourne, Maidstone, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Paddock Wood.

Separately, between Monday 3rd February and Tuesday 11th February, Adams also stole a Land Rover, a caravan, a trailer and attempted to steal two further Land Rovers and a digger on a trailer from Paddock Wood, Kemsley, Marden, Sittingbourne and Burwash in Sussex.

Mills was alone when he also stole a van from Sittingbourne on Monday 2nd December 2019.

The pair planned the thefts over their mobile phones and used cars with false number plates to travel to the scene of their crimes and in some cases brazenly tow away stolen trailers when their owners were distracted.

Following the thefts they discussed disposing of the property via text and in some cases sent photographs of the stolen items to prospective buyers.

Mills of Rectory Road, Sittingbourne was arrested on 18th February and Adams of no fixed address was detained on 20th February.

Officers seized their mobile phones and were able to recover text conversations and photographs of some of the stolen property. Investigators proved they were responsible together or separately for offences where property valued at around £100,000 had been stolen.

Both were later charged with conspiracy to commit theft. They pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and on Monday 14 September 31-year-old Mills was jailed for four years and one month and 21-year-old Adams was sentenced to three years and nine months.

Detective Chief Inspector Lopa McDermott, of the Kent Police Chief Constable’s Crime Squad, told SFM News: "These two criminals brazenly committed their crimes when the owners were distracted or drivers were making deliveries. They ran their offending as a business, discussing which items to steal and advertising the stolen property by sending photographs to potential buyers. Their arrogance was their downfall when investigators checked their mobile phones and found incriminating text conversations and the images. The impact on the victims should not be underestimated and in some cases businesses ceased trading due to the financial loss. It is only right that Mills and Adams are now in prison."

Injured Pedestrian Airlifted To London Hospital

Injured Pedestrian Airlifted To London Hospital

A person has been airlifted to a London hospital following an incident earlier this morning (19th September) at around 8.10am on the Avenue of Remembrance, close to Borden Grammar School.

Emergency services were called to the scene along with the Kent Air Ambulance, which subsequently carried the person to Kings College Hospital in London.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are fully known currently and are being investigated by Kent Police.

Police Seize Drugs From An Industrial Site In Iwade

Police Seize Drugs From An Industrial Site In Iwade

Class A drugs and 120 cannabis plants were seized by Kent Police from an industrial site in Iwade earlier today (Wednesday 9th September).

Two hundred wraps of heroin or cocaine were found at the location, off Raspberry Hill, following a dawn search warrant carried out by several agencies.

Four shipping containers are also reported to have been found being used to grow cannabis and three men, aged between 18 and 59, were arrested as part of enquiries into the cultivation.

Two dogs, two agricultural mowers and a caravan were also seized due to suspicions they had been stolen.

Swale Borough Council also joined Kent Police at the site following reports of planning conditions being breached.  

Cllr Roger Truelove, Leader of Swale Borough Council, told SFM News:  "This was a great multi-agency operation which we’re proud our officers from a range of teams helped to plan and carry out this morning. We’ve gathered valuable intelligence for ongoing investigations into alleged breaches of planning conditions. Working alongside colleagues from the different agencies has been a real success for all involved, and shows the importance of continuing this kind of collaboration."

Also present was the Environment Agency, who are investigating reports waste, including building rubble, was being illegally stored at the site. Sally Harvey, Area Director for the Environment Agency, told SFM News:  "The Environment Agency and our partners are fighting to put a stop to waste crime and we won’t hesitate to take action. Joint investigations will continue and if convicted as a result of illegal action, those responsible could face extensive fines and even prison sentences. To help avoid your waste ending up at an illegal waste site, ask for your waste collector’s waste carrier’s registration number and to see their waste transfer note; they must have them."

Chief Inspector Alan Rogers, Kent Police’s District Commander for Swale, told SFM News: "This activity is the culmination of close partnership work between us and our colleagues from several agencies. Working together we successfully applied for a search warrant from the court and executed it using our combined resources. Our partners play an important role in helping us protect the communities we serve, and we will continue to use our collective powers to target organised criminal activity and achieve the best possible results for victims of crime."

Police Appeal Following Weekend M2 Collision

Police Appeal Following Weekend M2 Collision

Kent Police are appealing for witnesses after a collision near to Junction 5 of the M2 in the early hours of Saturday (5th September) morning.

At around 2:00am a grey BMW 3 Series and a white Nissan NV200 Acenta were involved in a collision near the slip road that joins the Londonbound motorway.

Two people were taken to a local hospital for treatment to injuries that were not described as serious however significant damage was done to both vehicles.

A 34-year-old man from Snodland, the alleged driver of the BMW, was also arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drink and drugs and has been released pending further enquiries.

Investigating officers would like any witnesses to come forward with information. They would particularly like to view any dash cam footage that may have been captured of either of the vehicles travelling in the moments leading up to the collision.

Anyone with details should call 01634 792209 quoting reference 05-0124.

Pupils Told To Self-Isolate After COVID-19 Alert

Pupils Told To Self-Isolate After COVID-19 Alert

The new academic year hasn't got off to a great start for five Sittingbourne Schools in regards to the current COVID-19 Coronavurus pandemic.

Firstly, yesterday (Monday 7th September) a group of pupils and teachers were told to self-isolate after a Year 6 child tested positive for COVID-19 at St Peter's Catholic Primary School in West Ridge, after staff were informed of the case by PHE (Public Health England). Also on Monday two children at South Avenue Primary School's in Year 1 and 5 bubbles tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile staff at Highsted Grammar School had to write to parents today (Tuesday 8th September) to say they had been alerted by Public Health England (PHE) that "a number of our pupils have been in contact with a pupil that has tested positive for COVID-19".

Bapchild and Tonge CE Primary School in School Lane, Bapchild, sent letters to parents saying a child in Year 1 had come down with COVID-19. Head Christian Kelly wrote: "Having been informed late on Monday afternoon that a child in Year 1 had tested positive for COVID-19 the school has followed government guidelines, by contacting Public Health England and, acting on their advice, asked all pupils in the relevant year group to remain at home for the next 14 days."

Westlands Primary School, in Homewood Avenue, wrote to parents as well to say a case had been confirmed in their school with all Year 1 children being told to self-isolate.

Earlier today Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the county satnds at 8658 in Kent and 1148 in Medway. This equates to a rate per 100,000 of population – 547.4 for Kent and 412.1 for Medway.

* The Public Health England figures are issued on a daily basis and are based on a national, regional and upper tier authority level. From 2 July, they include pillar one (tests carried out by NHS and PHE labs) and pillar two testing (tests in the wider community).

£50,000 Funding Boost To Support Leisure Centres

£50,000 Funding Boost To Support Leisure Centres

Swale Community Leisure (SCL) has received a funding boost from Swale Borough Council to help it continue to deliver essential health and fitness services for residents.

SCL is the charitable trust that operates Swallows Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne and Sheppey Leisure Complex in Sheerness on behalf of the council and the £50,000 of funding from the council is in addition to the council’s significant investment of up to £800,000 to pay for repairs to the roof at Swallows, which was damaged in Storm Ciara earlier in the year.

SCL not only operates the leisure centres in order to provide an affordable and high quality leisure service to local people, it delivers activities both inside and outside the centres that support unemployed young people, disabled groups and vulnerable individuals with a wide range of health needs. 

SCL say: "the continuing partnership with SBC and the financial support given, will ensure that these services can continue to be delivered and make a positive impact on the lives of recipients".

Dave Harcourt, Chief Executive Officer at SCL, told SFM News: “The first half of 2020 has presented us with incredible difficulties, mainly in the shape of Storm Ciara which destroyed Swallows roof and followed by the COV-19 lockdown. Nevertheless, we have worked through this period with our partners at Swale Borough Council to ensure that time has not been wasted in securing a long term solution for the roof and preparing ourselves for reopening when it was allowed. Without their support, both financially and professionally, it’s difficult to imagine how we might have got through this time. Now we can continue to recover and work towards rebuilding the services that we know the people of Swale will truly benefit from.”

Cllr Angela Harrison, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “It’s been a tough year for SCL, so I’m glad we can offer them this financial support to continue providing essential services for local people. The pandemic has had a huge impact on their operations, but also shows why we need to make sure people are able to keep themselves fit and healthy. We don’t know yet if there will be a second wave of the virus, but we do know that people who are healthy and active are better placed to fight it. Even if we don’t see cases rise again, more people are committed to keeping themselves fit and healthy, and this money will help make sure they can.”

Swale Community Leisure (SCL) is a not for profit Registered Society with Charitable Status.

Jail For Man Who Faked Cancer To Control Partner

Jail For Man Who Faked Cancer To Control Partner

An abusive boyfriend from Sittingbourne who lied that he had terminal cancer in order to control and manipulate his partner has been sentenced to prison.

Kevin Bevis subjected a woman to a three-year campaign of abuse, intimidation and violence which also included him choking his victim. Bevis was in a relationship with the woman between October 2016 and December 2019, during which time he imposed a number of rules within her own home, including restrictions over when she could see her own daughter.

By early 2018 Bevis told the victim he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and claimed he was attending several hospitals. He sometimes took the victim with him to waiting rooms under the pretence of appointments. Bevis would wrap bandages around his arms, wrists and head and consume tablets and other substances he claimed were medication.

By the following year Bevis claimed the cancer had spread to his brain. He would indicate fake pain in front of the victim and her family. He also told friends and work colleagues he was dying. The victim stayed with Bevis, concerned he needed care and support and was terminally ill, but continued to be the subject of his demands and coercive behaviour.

In November and December of 2019, Bevis carried out separate assaults against the victim, beating her and placing his hands around her neck to throttle her. He threatened ’I’ll kill you and myself anyway, I’ve got nothing to live for’.

Kent Police were informed of the abuse on Thursday 19th December 2019 and Bevis was subsequently arrested. He confessed during interview he had faked his illness, as he feared the victim would leave him. Bevis was charged with engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. He was further charged with two counts of assault by beating. Aged 38, of Woodside Gardens, Sittingbourne, he pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and was sentenced on Tuesday 11 August 2020 to 18 months’ imprisonment. Bevis was also made subject of a five-year restraining order.

Leading the investigation was PC Christopher Williams, who told SFM News: "Bevis went to incredible lengths to deceive and control his victim, who even took on extra jobs so he didn’t have to work and could enjoy what she thought were the last months of his life. He has subjected her to repeated and sustained psychological abuse causing the victim a huge amount of distress, fear and anxiety. We are grateful that she has shown tremendous courage in coming forward and helping us secure this important conviction. I would also like to remind people there is a wealth of support on offer to anyone who is suffering this kind of abuse."

Police To Increase Patrols In Public Spaces And Beaches

Police To Increase Patrols In Public Spaces And Beaches

Kent Police have confirmed that increased police patrols will be taking place in public spaces and on beaches over the coming days to help remind people about social distancing advice, deter illegal mass gatherings and deal with any associated crime and disorder.

Forecasts for the weekend predict some wet weather for the county but Kent Police will be having an increased presence to make sure those who do venture out do so responsibly.

Kent Police have said that local officers continue to carry out enquiries into a disturbance in Greatstone following a large gathering on the beach last Sunday (9th August), following which four officers sustained minor injuries. As a result, a 29-year-old man from Stockwell was charged with dangerous driving and actual bodily harm. Enquiries continue to identify those responsible for throwing bottles which hit attending officers.

In addition, Kent Police say that they also became aware of a seafront event which was rumoured to be organised for Leysdown on Wednesday (12th August ). Officers contacted the organiser and travelled to Stratford, London to engage with those planning to attend the event to remind them of the latest health advice. The group eventually travelled to Essex where two men were arrested for conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police, Nikki Faulconbridge, told SFM News: "‘As we continue to investigate a disturbance in Greatstone, those planning mass gatherings are warned to think again and seriously consider the detrimental impact these can have on the communities they are held in as well as the health risks in the current Covid-19 context. I also want the people of Kent to be assured that Kent Police will do everything it can by working with partner agencies such as local councils and other police forces to minimise the impact large gatherings can have on our communities. Any gatherings found to be illegal will be dealt with robustly and officers continue to monitor the situation across the county. The majority of people are following the Government advice but we will engage with those fail to do so, explain the guidelines and encourage them to adhere to them. Covid-19 remains a serious worldwide health risk and it is important that everyone visiting Kent’s beaches, parks and outdoor spaces continue to keep a safe distance from one other."

Witnesses to the Greatstone altercation, who are yet to speak to Kent Police, are asked to call the force on 01843 222 289 quoting reference 09-0593. Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Mud Rescue Undertaken At Lower Halstow

Mud Rescue Undertaken At Lower Halstow
Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called to reports of three men in a boat had become stuck in mud on the River Medway in Lower Halstow, last night 
 
Five fire engines were sent to the scene off Lapwing Drive, just after 8:40pm last night (Monday 10th August)  along with the Water Safety Unit.
 
Crews worked with  HM Coastguard to bring the trio safely back onto dry land using mud rescue equipment. 
 
The men were passed into the care of the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). Officers from Kent Police were also in attendance.
 

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