Local News

Council To Discuss Homeless Pilot Programme

Council To Discuss Homeless Pilot Programme

Access to a new job and home could be on the cards for people experiencing homelessness here in Swale.

A 12-month pilot programme, with homeless crowd sourcing social enterprise Beam, will be discussed at Swale Borough Council’s cabinet meeting this week (on Wednesday 13th April).

The programme would aim to help 38 people start jobs, 15 people leave homelessness and 23 people avoid homelessness.

Cllr Ben Martin, cabinet member for housing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “Beam are doing amazing work raising donations from the public to help people access the training, and other support they need to get a new job and off the streets for good. We currently have 879 households in Swale accessing our homelessness services ranging from those under threat of becoming homeless to people who are already sleeping rough, and with the cost of living continuing to rise, this number will only increase. With Kent County council cutting homeless funding this year, we must find more innovative ways to form successful partnerships to help local people get back on their feet. This initial pilot programme will give our officers an additional tool to help people get back on their feet for the long term.”

Cllr Martin went on to add: “We have a duty of care to the people who come to us for help with their housing need. We currently have 380 households in temporary accommodation, and I would love to see those who can get back on their feet with a new job and home. If approved, this could provide the much-needed missing link that moves people out of temporary housing and into their new life.”

You can read the full report being given to the cabinet here.

Crews Tackle Sittingbourne Bedroom Blaze

Crews Tackle Sittingbourne Bedroom Blaze

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) are issuing important electrical safety advice following a property fire in Sittingbourne.

Three fire engines were sent to the incident on Westmoreland Drive earlier today (Saturday 9th April) and crews arrived to flames from an upstairs bedroom.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used hose reel jets to extinguish the blaze, before clearing the property of smoke with a high-pressure fan. The occupier closed internal doors behind them while exiting the property, which is believed to have reduced the amount of smoke damage throughout the building. No casualties were reported.

The fire is believed to have started accidentally due to an electrical fault. Following the fire, crews are reminding the public to always take care with electrical items and to only purchase products from reputable suppliers. You should also switch off all electrical items at the plug when you're not using them, to reduce the risk of a fire.

'Fly Tipping Crackdown' Day Of Action

'Fly Tipping Crackdown' Day Of Action

Waste Carriers have been targeted as part of a day of action to crackdown on fly tipping.

Swale Borough Council teamed up with Kent Police’s Rural Task Force to carry out enquiries, arrest people suspected of fly tipping, seize vehicles and collate evidence with a view to prosecuting offenders for waste related crimes.

Outcomes from the day were:

  • 9 vehicles stopped and searched
  • 4 Fixed Penalty Notices issued
  • 1 vehicle seized

Cllr Julian Saunders, cabinet member for environment at the council, told SFM News: “We had a successful day of action on Tuesday (29th March) to crackdown on fly tipping. Our officers drove around Swale with Kent Police pulling over vehicles carrying waste to ensure the drivers had the correct waste carrier license and transfer notes. They stopped nine vehicles, issued four FPNs and the police seized a vehicle that didn’t have any road tax. Of the nine vehicles pulled over, three of them were issued FPNs for not having the correct waste carrier license and transfer notes for the waste they were carrying which is unacceptable".

Cllr Saunders went on to add: “It is the waste carrier’s responsibility to have the correct license to carry waste and maintain the right documents for each load, but it is also the responsibility of any residents and businesses using these unlicensed waste carriers. When they come to collect your household waste, you must check that they have the correct license and intend to dispose of it responsibly. We don’t want it dumped along our country lanes and seaside towns. If evidence is found that leads back to you, you can receive an on the spot fine of up to £400, so always ask to see a waste carriers license before using them. We’re cracking down on fly tipping and will make an example of anyone we find to be carrying waste illegally.”

It's believed that more and more of these action dayswill be taking place across the county. The council told SFM News "there is a tremendous amount of preparation taking place ahead of these days, including the gathering of vital intelligence to support the Council’s Enforcement team with their duties".

What can you do to dispose of your waste responsibly?

Fly tippers often target households via social media or local advertising, luring customers in with cheap rates to dispose of unwanted furniture, building rubble or garden waste. However, these unlicensed waste carriers often simply dump the waste where ever they can get away with it, including in Kent’s country lanes. Householders or small businesses found to be using criminals to dispose of their waste can and are being prosecuted by local authorities in Kent with fixed penalty notices that go up to £400 per offence.  Failure to pay such an FPN may result in court action where fines can be significantly larger.

To prevent this, householders should check whether someone is licenced to carry waste by visiting the Environment Agency website below, or alternatively call 03708 506506. It also helps if householders receive a written receipt or transfer note, including contact details, description of waste removed and details of where the waste is being taken to.

https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers

The 13 Kent councils, along with Kent Police, are working in partnership to Keep Kent Clean. To keep updated with the councils’ efforts to tackle fly tipping and littering, follow #KeepKentClean or visit their website: https://swale.gov.uk/bins-littering-and-the-environment .

 

Swale Council Leader To Step Down

Swale Council Leader To Step Down

Cllr Roger Truelove will be standing down as leader of Swale Borough Council after almost three years.

In an EXCLUSIVE first interview with 106.9 SFM's Tony Weaver, on today's (Thursday 31st March) "In The Bourne", Cllr Truelove said: "I have had the pleasure of serving Swale as a councillor for 28 years, the last three as leader of the coalition. I was very doubtful about standing as a candidate in 2019 and I long ago decided I would not stand in 2023".

He went on to add: “We are now moving towards a new committee structure, and I believe it will be in the best interest of this council for someone else to take up the new leadership role for the next 12 months. So, I will be standing down as leader, but I will continue to play a part in the new council system for the next year. There are a number of people who have the talent and commitment to take Swale forward, both from the administration or the opposition. I have been enormously lucky to have the support of an excellent cabinet over the last few years and I am pleased that we have shown that coalition politics in local government can work. I am also immensely grateful to council officers for their hard work, commitment and forbearance".

“Personally, in my time as leader I have tried to bring stability to the council, as well as unlock the resources needed to deliver improvements, and make us a kinder council. The last three years of this council has seen movement in several directions: the constitutional changes, the determination to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, the enhanced links with the voluntary sector, the climate change initiatives and the improvements to our public realm with a sense of our heritage. None of this is work completed and I hope we will see continuity into the committee period, over the next year.”

The formal announcement was made at a full council meeting last night  (Wednesday 30th March), where Cllr Truelove confirmed he would continue in the role until a new leader was elected at an extraordinary council meeting set for Wedneasday 27th April.

 

CCTV Released Following Attempted Theft

CCTV Released Following Attempted Theft From Pensioner

Swale Police officers, investigating a report of an attempted theft from a pensioner in Sittingbourne, have released a CCTV image.

At around 10am on Tuesday 8th March an elderly man withdrew a quantity of cash from a High Street bank.

He walked to his car which was parked in St Michael’s Road and placed the money inside.

At this point it is alleged a man approached the victim and told him he had a flat tyre.

While the victim was distracted a woman is reported to have attempted to steal the money, but was foiled when the victim became suspicious.

Investigating officer, PC Alison Honess-Crawley told SFM News: ‘It is thought the two suspects may have followed the pensioner from the bank and it is fortunate they were prevented in their efforts to steal his money. We have been making enquiries into the incident and are now releasing an image of a man who may be able to assist with our enquiries.".

Anyone who recognises the man, or has additional information, is urged to call Kent Police on 01795 419 419, quoting crime reference 46/43987/22 or, alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or using their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-ano... .

Litter Angels Winner Presented with Poster

Litter Angels Winner Presented with Poster

A Litter Angel has had her winning poster design put up in local McDonald’s car parks following last year’s anti-litter poster competition in primary schools across Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

Zosia Szancilo, who attends Borden C of E Primary School, won the 2021 Litter Angels competition. She was presented with a certificate, a personalised mug and a £50 cheque, whilst her winning poster was printed onto a metal plaque and will be displayed in the car parks of the McDonald’s restaurants, along with previous winning posters.

Local MP Gordon Henderson helped Matt Hogben, manager of McDonald’s in Mill Way, Sittingbourne, presented Zosia with her very own plaque to hang in her bedroom.

Mr Henderson, who created the Litter Angels charity, told SFM News: "The theme of last year’s competition was that the poster had to include Keep Britain Tidy’s Tidyman logo, which Zosia incorporated onto a bin in her design of a clean and tidy park scene. Her poster won because it was very bold and colourful with a clear message to encourage people to pick up litter. Zosia captured the essence of what Litter Angels is about, which is to improve our local environment by reducing the amount of litter that is dropped in our streets and fields."

You can find out more about the charity on their website: https://www.litterangels.org .

Suspected Sittingbourne Burglar Charged

Suspected Sittingbourne Burglar Charged

A suspected burglar has appeared in court charged with a break-in at a Sittingbourne house.

In the early hours of Sunday 13th March a victim, in Bassett Road, reported that they had disturbed a man who had targeted their property.

Officers attended the scene where the suspect had left prior to their arrival.

Enquiries were made into available CCTV footage in the area and yesterday (Tuesday 22nd March) a man was arrested.

John Brazil, of Castle Rough Lane, Kemsley was later charged with burglary.

The 46-year-old appeared before Medway Magistrates' Court earlier today (Wednesday 23rd March) and was remanded in custody for a hearing at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday 20th April.

 

New Rodmersham Conservation Area Agreed

New Rodmersham Conservation Area Agreed

Councillors have agreed to designate a new conservation area in Rodmersham Church Street.

Swale Borough Council’s proposal to create a new conservation area around the church was agreed at last week’s cabinet meeting (Wednesday 16th March).

Cllr Mike Baldock, cabinet member for planning at the council, told SFM News: “After reviewing the nearby conservation areas at Turnstall and Rodmersham Green, it was clear that the thirteenth century, grade I listed church, the collection of grade II listed buildings and surrounding orchards at Rodmersham Church Street would benefit from the protection of a conservation area. We went to public consultation on the proposed conservation area for Rodmersham Church Street in November and received valuable feedback from the parish council and local residents".

Cllr Baldock went on to add: “Following the consultation, we moved our proposed boundary northwards to include Ashgores House after feedback from the parish council and several residents expressed the importance of the period building as a visual gateway into the hamlet. We also received a request to include Rodmersham House but the vast gap of landscape between the house and the church does not meet the Historic England criteria for inclusion in a conservation area, however, not including the Rodmersham House cluster does not diminish the significance of the listed building or its historic and ongoing connection with the church-centred hamlet.”

Cllr Alastair Gould, deputy cabinet member for planning at the council, told SFM News: “A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest and it’s our job to preserve the character of the buildings, road layout, landscape, paths and boundaries all included within the boundary. Now that councillors have agreed to the new conservation area, we’ll register the area with Historic England and publish the details on our website.”

For more information about conservation areas in Swale you can visit the council's website at: https://swale.gov.uk/planning-and-regeneration/heritage-and-landscape/conservation-areas

Violent Assault On Partner Attacker Jailed

Violent Assault On Partner Attacker Jailed

A man who repeatedly stamped on his former partner’s head during a violent assault near Rochester has been jailed.

Aaron Boon also pulled a clump of hair from his victim, during a sustained ordeal which was witnessed by two young children.

Boon, aged 29, carried out the assault on the evening of 29 November 2021, after an argument with his victim had spilled into a communal area outside a flat where she lived. After pulling her hair, he pushed the woman to the floor as she shouted for help from neighbours. He continued the assault in the presence of children stamping on her head at least six times.

Boon then left the scene after taking the victim’s watch and £20. He returned shortly after and in an effort to get back inside the flat caused damage to a front door. When police attended Boon violently shoved a female officer causing her to almost fall down a flight of stairs. He also elbowed her head. He then kicked, punched and bit a male colleague, before being successfully restrained and arrested. 

At Woolwich Crown Court, Boon pleaded guilty to charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two counts of assault of an emergency worker. He further admitted charges of criminal damage and possessing cannabis. The court heard Boon, previously from Kemsley, had also breached a previous suspended sentence and on Thursday 3 March 2022, he was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment.

PC Sophie Marshall, of the North Kent Vulnerability Investigation Team, told SFM News: "I would like to thank and commend the victim, who has shown immense courage and strength to give evidence, having also endured previous physical and mental abuse from Boon. Thankfully, she was not left with any serious long-term injuries, however Boon’s actions will no doubt leave profound psychological scars and have also caused a huge amount of distress to her children. The victim’s continued support in this case as well as her children’s bravery should be recognised and acknowledged and provide other victims of assault the courage to support a police investigation. Domestic violence is a priority for Kent Police and nobody should ever feel they have nowhere to turn. I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation or relationship to report it to someone and get help. There is a range of support and information available, just phone us or ask a trusted friend or relative to do it. Nobody should ever feel they don’t have the option to walk away or get help."

'Man With Nunchucks' Fight In Town

'Man With Nunchucks' Fight In Town

Three people were arrested on Saturday (12th March) night following the report of a fight in Sittingbourne involving the use of weapons, by the Kent Police Tactical Operations unit.

At 9:42pm TacOps officers posted a message on social media saying they had been called to a fracas, accompanied by the Dog Unit and police from the Swale unit. After their arrival, three people allegedly involved in the fighting were arrested for affray, an offence defined as a group fighting in a public place that disturbs the peace and can also include threats of violence from one group of people to another.

In their post on Twitter, Kent Police said that one of the arrested people had gone to the scene of the fighting kitted out in a stab vest and carrying 'nunchucks', a marital arts weapon comprising two sticks connected by a short metal chain, with officers adding the alleged offender "was no Jackie Chan".

According to witnesses there were no reports of any serious injuries and the presence of the police and dog unit appeared to have brought the situation under control within minutes of attendance.

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