Local News

Blaze Sweeps Through The Former Kemsley Arms

Blaze Sweeps Through The Former Kemsley Arms

Last night (Sunday 21st January) Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called to reports of a fire at a derelict pub.

Five fire engines and a height vehicle responded, and crews tackled a fire on the first floor of the former Kemsley Arms Public House on Ridham Avenue.

There were no reported injuries, and the cause is not yet known.

Kent Police also attended and have confirmed to SFM News that “the fire is being treated as suspicious.”

Anyone with any information, which may help with the investigation, is asked to call 01795 419 119, quoting crime reference 46/11464/24 or, alternatively, they can call kent Crimestoppers FREE and anonimously on 0800 555 111 or by completing an online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/pre-form.

Prolific Thief Sent Back To Prison

Prolific Thief Sent Back To Prison

A prolific local shoplifter has been returned to jail after pleading guilty to several thefts.

Lisa Willet was serving a suspended prison sentence when she chose to commit further shoplifting offences in Sittingbourne.

On Monday 1st January 2024, she stole laundry products from a store in Gadby Road. Willet returned to the same business a fortnight later where she left without paying for a can of drink. She stole further laundry items from Morrisons in Milton High Street on Sunday 7 January. Two days later Willet took a large quantity of steaks and meat joints from Aldi in East Street without attempting to pay.

Officers were called to Lidl in West Street on Wednesday 17th January, where she had been detained by staff after attempting to steal a number of joints of beef. Willet, of Frederick Street, Sittingbourne was arrested and later charged by investigators from the Swale Victim Based Crime Team with five thefts.

The 44-year-old appeared before Medway Magistrates’ Court on Friday (19th January) and pleaded guilty. She was immediately sentenced to 260 days' imprisonment which included the activation of her suspended sentence.

Inspector Vanessa Foster, of the Swale Community Safety Unit, told SFM News: "Our investigators have ensured another thief who targets our local shops has been charged and sent to prison. We will also be applying to the court for a strict criminal behaviour order banning her from entering a number of businesses when she is released."

Local Stonegate Pubs That Could Be 'At Risk'

Local Stonegate Pubs That Could Be 'At Risk'

The GMB Union has raised fears over the parent company of Stonegate Pubs, who owns a number of local "watering holes" and their current refinancing bid.

Almost 200 Stonegate pubs across Kent could be “at risk” of closure after private equity parent company TDR capital seeks to refinance £2.5 billion of debt the union warns.

Some local pubs that could be affected include The Beauty Of Bath, Bunters, The Red Lion  and The Vineyard in Sittingbourne along with The Sun Inn in Bredgar and The Fruiterers Arms in Rodmersham.

The Three Hats in Milton Regis, The Old Wine Vault and The Phoenix pubs in Faversham and The Flying Dutchman in Queenborough are also owned by the group.

Stonegate is one of the largest pub operators in the UK with more than 4,500 pubs across the country,

The GMB say that they are worried refinancing could lead to “crippling payments”, resulting in cuts in hours for staff, health and safety and a “rise in a toxic culture of bullying and harassment”.

Gary Lindsay, boss of TDR Capital, which also owns Asda supermarket, was before The Business and Trade Select Committee on Tuesday (9th January) and told them that he was ‘confident’ that the £2.6billion of debts in the Stonegate Pub Company could be refinanced this year.

The union is claiming that huge interest payments on TDR Capital’s debts have already resulted in cost pressures at Asda, resulting in “cuts in hours for staff, cutting corners on health and safety and a rise in a toxic culture of bullying and harassment”. This has led to a vote for strike action at Asda's Gosport store in Hampshire.

Local Flood Alert Issued

Local Flood Alert Issued

A Flood Alert has been issued by The Environment Agency (EA) due to the high tide forecast at 2:45pm today (Sunday 14th January).

Tides are expected to be higher than usual due to the forecast weather conditions during spring tides with areas most at risk including low lying land, promenades and coastal footpaths between 12:45pm and 4:45pm.

No property flooding is expected and EA have confirmed that they "are expecting higher than normal tides over the next few days" and as a result they will continue to monitor the forecast and update on  alerts for future tides if necessary.

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

The total peak water level at Sheerness is forecasted to be 3.46m AOD.

Flood alert area: coastal areas of the Isle of Sheppey and along the North Kent Coast from Kemsley to Seasalter, including Sheerness, Minster, Queenborough, Leysdown on Sea, Sittingbourne and Faversham.

Flat Fire In Sittingbourne

Flat Fire In Sittingbourne

Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called, at around 5:00pm, to reports of a fire at a flat yesterday (Thursday 11th January) evening.

Two fire engines attended and crews, wearing breathing apparatus, extinguished the flames at the residential property on Caithorpe Close on the Regent Quay development.

Firefighters also used a high-pressured fan to clear the property of smoke. 

The cause is not yet known. 

Charges Made In Shop Burglaries Investigation

Charges Made In Shop Burglaries Investigation

Detectives investigating burglaries at two businesses in Kent have charged a suspect.

Liam Scott, aged 24 and of Lower Road in Faversham, has been charged with two counts of burglary, making off without payment, theft of a motor vehicle and driving without insurance.

As part of the investigation a warrant was carried out at a property in Faversham on the Friday (5th January) morning where Mr Scott was arrested.

He was previously arrested by officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, after a vehicle was stolen from an address in Flood Lane, Faversham, in the early hours of Saturday 30th December 2023.

After this incident the stolen vehicle was used in a burglary at a business premises in Faversham Road, Seasalter, where alcohol and a cigarette dispensing machine were reported stolen.

After this the same vehicle was seen at a petrol station on A299 Thanet Way, where the driver put fuel into the vehicle before driving off without paying.

The same vehicle was then used in a burglary at the Co-op convenience store on London Road in Teynham, where tills were reported stolen.

Mr Scott is due to appear before Folkestone Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (Saturday 6th January).

Anyone with any information about any of the incidents, or who has relevant CCTV or dashcam footage which they are yet to make police aware of, is urged to call 01795 419119 quoting 46/228353/23.

Alternatively they can contact Crimestoppers, FREE and anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111 or by using their online form at:- https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/pre-form .

Sittingbourne Robbery Suspect In Court

Sittingbourne Robbery Suspect In Court

A suspect has been detained by neighbourhood officers following reports of a robbery and theft in Sittingbourne.

On Saturday 16th December 2023, a man was walking in the High Street when he was allegedly threatened by a man he did not know. The victim handed over a quantity of cash and later alerted the police.

Later the same day, meat valued at more than £40 was reportedly stolen from the Co-op in Gadby Road. On Thursday 28th December, constables from the town’s community safety unit were on patrol in the High Street area when they arrested a man.

Max Martin, of The Meadows, Sittingbourne was later charged by detectives with robbery and theft of meat. 

The 40-year-old appeared before Medway Magistrates’ Court on Friday (29th December).

He was remanded to a hearing at Maidstone Crown Court on 26th January 2024.

Appeal Following Serious Collision On The M2

Appeal Following Serious Collision On The M2

Investigators are appealing for dashcam footage and witnesses following a serious collision on the M2 near Gillingham earlier this morning (Thursday 28th December).

At around 5.10am a grey Vauxhall Astra was involved in a collision with a red Citroen Berlingo on the coastbound carriageway of the M2 at Farthing Corner (Medway Services).

Two children who were travelling in the Berlingo were treated for injuries at the scene. They were taken to hospital where they remain in a serious but stable condition. The driver of the Astra was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

The incident is being investigated by Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) and officers are urging anyone with information to contact them. Anybody who witnessed the collision or saw either of the vehicles beforehand, is asked to call the SCIU witness appeal line on 01622 798538, or, alternatively, they can email sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk quoting HW/KA/135/23.

Dashcam footage can also be submitted via: https://kep.uk.evidence.com/axon/community-request/public/m2farthing


New Town Centre Marshals Over Christmas Period

New Town Centre Marshals Over Christmas Period

Swale Borough Council is deploying uniformed marshals to help keep Sheerness and Sittingbourne town centres safe.  

The street marshals, who will be operating over the school holidays, are one of several initiatives being rolled out as part of the Safer Streets campaign.    

The council, through the Community Safety Partnership, worked with the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner to secure the funding needed for the campaign from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund.  

The marshals will wear body cameras and have radios connected through Swale Link to the council’s CCTV centre, which they can contact if any issues arise.   

Swale Borough Council will also be promoting being an active bystander as part of the project.  

The council recently teamed up with Kent Police and the charity SATEDA to visit licensed premises in Sittingbourne to speak with staff and members of the public about the initiative.  

It means you should take:   

  • Direct action: call out negative behaviour, tell the person to stop and ask the victim if they’re ok.  
  • Distract: interrupt, start a conversation with the perpetrator, use an excuse like asking the time!   
  • Delegate: if you don’t feel you can get involved, ask someone else to (bar staff, bouncer).  
  • Delay: if it’s too dangerous, call the police and wait for the situation to pass, then check on the victim.

The money will be invested into measures in the town Centres that will help tackle the higher level of crime, ASB and violence against women and girls, such as:-

  • funding for additional youth programs, that can challenge the behaviour and perceptions of young people towards crime  
  • new fixed site security cameras and three Rapid Deployment CCTV Cameras  
  • more lighting, CCTV, and other general improvements to specified parks and open spaces, creating a safer environment for the children of the area while also discouraging antisocial behaviour in green spaces 
  • investment into a Community Engagement Programme for the Beachfields area, to enable greater community ownership and activity within the space.  
  • increasing community guardianship activities within these areas, including the introduction of these Street Marshalls whose work will help to keep the streets safer  
  • offering Active Bystander training to people who work at night in the town centre and members of the public, which gives them the knowledge and skills to safely challenge the unacceptable behaviour of others in public  
  • investment into Swale Link, which helps prevent crime by providing businesses with ways to share information about incidents. Including reports of shop lifters and anti-social behaviour, by providing radio equipment for them to stay connected with other businesses  
  • additional monitoring of empty premises that attract antisocial behaviour. For example, the empty Sheerness library now has window shuttering and will receive some new fencing.

The measures have started and will continue to run until March 2025.    

Cllr Richard Palmer, the chair of the community committee, told SFM News: “We are incredibly proud to have successfully bid for this funding from the government’s Safer Streets fund through our Community Safety Partnership. We have set out a detailed plan of what we want to achieve with this money, and it is amazing to see the first steps we are taking. The ultimate goal is to reduce antisocial behaviour, and in particular, combat violence against women and girls. We know that these new measures, including the two street Marshalls, will make Sittingbourne and Sheerness town centres a safer place to be.” 

Violent And Abusive Man Jailed

Violent And Abusive Man Jailed

The victim of a violent and controlling man from Sittingbourne has seen him jailed.

During 2022, the woman was in a relationship with Nuno Rodrigues and suffered constant assaults at his hands. The abuse included an incident when Rodrigues forcefully pinned her to the ground whilst placing his hands around her neck. This prevented her from breathing and caused visible bruising.

In addition to attacks at home, the victim suffered injuries and abuse when on holiday abroad with Rodrigues. Whilst in Madeira, he assaulted her multiple times causing the woman to permanently lose sensitivity on one side of her mouth. Further incidents included threats with a knife, threats to disclose personal images and multiple occasions when he struck her face.

On 5th December 2022, he took hold of her throat, threatened to kill her if she called the police and prevented her from leaving. When the victim did manage to get away, she disclosed what had been happening to a work colleague and Kent Police were notified.

Rodrigues, of Playstool Road, Newington was arrested on the following day. He was charged and immediately remanded in custody. At Maidstone Crown Court he later pleaded guilty to engaging in coercive and controlling behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. On Tuesday (19th December), the 28-year-old was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He also be subject to an indefinite restraining order on his release.

PC Chelsea Clare, of the North Kent Vulnerability Investigation Team, told SFM News: "This man is an abusive bully who tried to control and restrict his victim’s life, regularly assaulted her and made constant threats over several months. This was an appalling ordeal for a woman who has suffered lasting injuries as a result. Rodrigues is now in jail and no longer a threat to the victim who has shown immense courage in helping us bring this individual to justice. I would urge anyone who suffers harm and abuse at the hands of a partner to seek help from a friend, trusted colleague or the police. We will listen to you and take steps to prevent you coming to further harm at the hands of a violent perpetrator."

** SATEDA is a local specialist domestic abuse charity who provide support to women and children who are experiencing, have experienced or are at risk of experiencing domestic abuse, while campaigning for systemic change around gender-based violence. You can find out more by visiting their website: https://sateda.org. 


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