Local News

Local Flood Alert In Force Now

Local Flood Alert In Force Now

A Flood Alert has been issued due to the high tide forecast for this afternoon (Sunday 10th May).

The Environment Agency has confirmed that the highest tide level is expected to be at 3:30pm this afternoon. Flooding is possible two hours either side of this time.

They say they are monitoring the situation, though flooding to properties is not expected. The main areas of concern include Faversham and Conyer and response staff are checking flood defences and structures and are prepared to respond if required.

They are advising people to be careful along beaches, promenades, coastal footpaths and roads as large waves and sea spray could be dangerous.

The Environment Agency say they are expecting higher than normal tides over the next 3 days and may be issuing further messages during this time.

For those who need it, the forecast total water height at Sheerness for the 3:30pm Sunday afternoon tide is 3.57m AOD.

McDonalds Set To Re-Open Sittingbourne Branch

McDonalds Set To Re-Open Sittingbourne Branch

McDonalds UK have today announced the 15 stores that are due to re-open next Wednesday (13th May) and they include the Sittingbourne Retail Park branch.

McDonald's Chief Executive, Paul Pomroy, told SFM News that the Sittingbourne branch, which closed in March following the government's implementation of lockdown, will be staffed by a smaller team than usual.

He said: "We will providing all employees with updated training on restaurant cleanliness and sanitisation and the restaurant will be deep cleaned before re-opening".

Perspex screens, floor markings, face masks and thermometer checks will be in place and no members of the public will be allowed into the branch.  ALL orders will have to be ordered through and delivered by Uber Eats or Just Eat and social distancing for delivery drivers will also be implemented.

There will be limited operating hours and menu - with burgers, chicken nuggets, Fillet-o-Fish, fries and the hot drinks range on offer but NO breakfasts initially.


Swale COVID-19 Death Figures Announced

Swale COVID-19 Death Figures Announced

New figures, released by The Office Of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed the number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Kent. 

The report reveals that 205 people had died of coronavirus in the county on or before Friday 10th April – 181 in hospital (88.3%), 16 in care homes (7.8%), 7 at home (3.4%) and 1 in a hospice.

Out of those figures locally here in Swale 18 people have died - 16 in hospital, 1 in a care home and 1 at home. The statistics also show that twice as many people from Medway borough have died compared to anywhere else in the Kent and one in nine deaths occurred outside of hospitals.

Whilst confirmed hospital deaths in the county from the ONS numbers are lower compared to NHS England figures, overall deaths provided by the ONS for England and Wales are far higher than previously reported by the NHS daily figures.

The ONS also says "suspected COVID-19" cases mentioned on a death certificate are included although it may not have been the main cause of death but a contributory factor.

Two Arrested Following 'Mass Gathering'

Two Arrested Following 'Mass Gathering'

Two people have been arrested and enquiries are ongoing following a 'mass gathering' in Sittingbourne.

Approximately 150 people attended a funeral at the Garden of England Crematorium on Sheppey Way in Bobbing on Thursday (16th April) resulting in concerns about social distancing during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Kent Police say that they "received notification of the funeral the evening before it was due to take place" and was therefore unable to speak to those attending to encourage them to adhere to social distancing measures.

As a contingency tey say that "officers maintained a visible presence during the day and looked to strike a balance between allowing those who attended the opportunity to grieve, while protecting the wider community from any potential health concerns".

Chief Inspector Neil Loudon told SFM News: ‘Kent Police was afforded very little notice about this large gathering and as such a decision was made to allow the funeral to go ahead during what was no doubt a difficult time for those who had lost a loved one.

Our offficers' priority was to maintain a presence while offering protection to the wider community around any health concerns they may have had. Those who have been identified as attending the ceremony and not adhering to the public health advice will be contacted in due course and reminded of their personal responsibilities during these unprecedented times.'

During the gathering, which involved large numbers of motorcyclists, some disruptive and anti-social riding was reported and two men aged 24 and 32 were both arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and driving without a licence.

A 17-year-old boy, who was a pedestrian attending the funeral, was also seriously injured when he was involved in a collision with a motorbike in Tonge Road at around 10.40am. Kent Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit has started conducting enquiries in to the circumstances.

Ch Insp Loudon added: "Some serious incidents took place during this gathering which have had an impact not only on those who were involved, but also the wider community.

As a result, there will be an increased presence of police officers in and around Sittingbourne in the coming days and weeks whilst enquiries take place and to provide some local reassurance.

Our investigation continues and where there are clear acts of anti-social behaviour, crime, and persistent breaches of coronavirus legislation then we will seek to identify and prosecute these."


Man Arrested Following 'Mass Gathering' Collision

Man Arrested Following 'Mass Gathering' Collision

Kent Police arrested a man in his 20's on suspicion of dangerous driving after several people were injured at a 'mass gathering' earlier today (Thursday 16th April).

It's been reported that 'more than 100 people were seen in the street' in Tonge Road, Murston for a funeral despite the current Coronavirus 'lockdown', which has been extended by the Government for a least another three weeks.

It is thought about 40 motorbikes were also in the road and an eye-witness, who wanted to remain anonymous, told SFM News: "it looked like someone had been hit by a motorbike near the junction with Portland Avenue.

The South East Coast Ambulance service confirmed that one person was flown to a Central London hospital and several others taken by road ambulance to the Medway Martime Hospital in Gillingham.

Kent Police's Serious Investigation Unit closed the road for several hours but the road re-opened earlier this afternoon.


Council Distributes £8.9M In Local Business Grants

Council Distributes £8.9M In Local Business Grants

The first 776 local businesses that have applied for business rate relief grants from Swale Borough Council will be receiving payments worth £8.9 million between them later this week.

The council wrote to 2,600 eligible businesses in the borough with details on how to apply for the grants, which are part of the government's measures to support small businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors through the period of disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The council are hoping to make the payments to all eligible businesses by 1 May and is urging those businesses that haven't yet applied to do so as soon as possible.

The grants of up to £25,000 per business are available through one of two schemes:

• The small business grant
• The cash grant for retail, hospitality and leisure

Anyone who runs a business that may be eligible for the grants, but can't access their business premises to receive their post at the moment, can email edu@swale.gov.uk.

You'll need to include:

• your business rates account number, shown on your business rates statement
• the name and address registered on your business rates account

If you have any queries about whether you are eligible for the grant or not, please email: edu@swale.gov.uk with a telephone number that we can contact you on to discuss the criteria.

For more information, and to apply if you haven't already, visit www.swale.gov.uk/support-scheme-registration.


Attempted Shop Burglary In Sittingbourne

Attempted Shop Burglary In Sittingbourne

Kent Police have released CCTV images following an attempted shop burglary by two men on Sittingbourne High Street.

Officers are investigating after the two men were seen attempting to gain access to a phone shop 10.30pm last Wednesday (25th March).

The men attempted to enter the shop by damaging a rear door, however they were unable to gain access before leaving the area in what officers believe was a silver Mercedes van.

Investigators have reviewed available CCTV footage and are now releasing images of two men who may be able to help with their enquiries.

Can you help?

Anyone who recognises the men in these images is asked to call Kent Police on 01634 792209 quoting reference 46/54245/20, or, alternatively, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers free and anonymously by calling 0800 555 111, or by using the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Former Mayor Of Swale Dies After Short Illness

Former Mayor Of Swale Dies After Short Illness

Picture: Faversham Town Council

Former Mayor Of Swale Bryan Mulhern has died following a short illness.

Cllr Mulhern served as the borough's mayor between 2005-2006 and was the ward member for Abbey Ward in Faversham until he stood down in last year's council elections. He was also a former Mayor of Faversham between 1991-1992.

In a statement made by Faversham Town Council they paid tribute saying: "Bryan's passing is a great loss for Faversham. Bryan was deeply respected by those from all political parties, as was demonstrated by the large turnout at the ceremony held by the town council in November (2019), when he was awarded the title Honorary Freeman of the Town and Port of Faversham by the current Mayor Cllr Alison Reynolds BEM."

"Bryan always tried to work constructively, supporting new councillors in finding their feet and working cross-party to do what he believed to be the right thing. Bryan worked hard for Faversham and especially for the people of Abbey Ward. He helped countless people during his term of office, with a variety of case work from planning issues to street cleansing. Our condolences go out to Bryan's friends and family at this difficult time."

Mr Mulhern had previouly worked for local family brewer Shepherd Neame for 50 years.


COVID19 - Chief Constable Urges Against Complacency

COVID19 - Chief Constable Urges Against Complacency

The Chief Constable of Kent Police has thanked the public for their co-operation but urged against complacency in the ongoing fight against Covid-19.

Legislation, introduced under the Coronavirus Act, gives police the ability to fine or arrest people who fail to comply with the Government's directions to stay at home, an enforcement tactic which will only be used as a last resort in Kent.

Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said officers are patrolling the streets to ensure the directions are being adhered to, and will continue to do so with warm weather predicted this weekend and into the Easter holidays.

He told SFM News that: "The vast majority of people in Kent have been brilliant and are doing exactly as they have been asked to do by the Government, which is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. A minority have chosen not to, and on these occasions my officers have been engaging with them, explaining why the restrictions are necessary and encouraging them to comply. Enforcement will only be used as a last resort and I hope this will be rarely necessary because it will show that people are listening to what my officers are telling them. It is however so important that we all continue to stay at home unless for one of the few clear reasons outlined by the Government. This is a national health emergency the likes of which most of us have never experienced before and hopefully never will again, but if we all do as we are instructed then the quicker we hope our lives can all go back to normal."

Kent Police has experienced a 29% reduction in reported crime since the introduction of regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19, with 1,254 fewer offences between 17th and 24th March than in the same period last year. While most crime types have reduced, officers are anticipating a rise in reports of domestic abuse, fraud and online abuse.

Mr Pughsley went on to add: "While we have a key role to play in ensuring people adhere to safe distance regulations, our day-to-day police work does not stop and we remain committed to tackling and preventing crime, targeting the most dangerous members of our society and protecting those who are most vulnerable. Our absence rate for staff and officers currently stands at about 11% but our ability to continue with business as usual has not been unduly affected. Vulnerable people and victims of crime can therefore rest assured that we are still here for them, while those intent on causing them harm can also be assured that they will be arrested and brought to justice. We have plans in place to cope should we experience a significant reduction in the number of available officers, including asking people who have recently left the force such as retired officers, Special Constables and volunteers to return. I am determined that we continue to provide the people of Kent with the very best service possible, no matter what.'

Finally, Mr Pughsley expressed his thanks and admiration for the police officers, NHS staff and other essential workers helping to battle the Covid-19 pandemic on the frontline.

He said: "Every day I ask my officers to leave their families at home and put themselves in potentially dangerous situations to protect others from harm. I want them to know I am eternally grateful for everything they do, and that I have the utmost respect and admiration for them as they put the welfare of others before their own. I also want to thank the doctors, nurses and other NHS staff who are doing such a fantastic job in battling this terrible virus and helping to save so many lives. These are difficult times for everyone but it is reassuring to know we have some of the best and most dedicated health workers in the world looking after us, and they deserve the highest praise."

COVID19 - New 'Kent Together' Service Launched

COVID19 - New 'Kent Together' Service Launched

Many people will have trusted friends, family and neighbours they can call on for support but where this is not the case, Kent Together is working with all of the local authorities, fire, health and police services to organise help and assistance for the communities and vulnerable people across Kent. 

The Kent Together service is a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in Kent who is in urgent need of help during the coronavirus outbreak at kent.gov.uk/kenttogether or you can call 03000 41 92 92 if you require assistance.


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