Local News

Police Rural Day Of Action Leads To Warrants

Police Rural Day Of Action Leads To Warrants

Kent Police officers have executed a series of warrants as part of their ongoing work to crackdown on rural crime across the borough.

The latest "Operation Nonagon" took place on Thursday 5th June and saw the Rural Partnership Team working alongside local officers from Sittingbourne Police Station. 

Inspector Andrew Judd, from the Ashford Neighbourhood Policing Team and lead officer in the operation, told SFM News: "This was just the latest in a series of days of action conducted between the four districts, known as Operation Nonagon. We know that burglary, vehicle crime, and fuel theft are the most common types of crime experienced in rural areas and we are committed to disrupting criminal activity and catching those responsible."

In Tonge a father and son were arrested after a warrant was carried out at a farm in Church Road, where 59 plants, believed to be cannabis plants, were found and seized. 53-year-old Stephen Parkinson, of Aerodrome Road in Hawkinge, and his 32-year-old son Steven Parkinson, from Agate Court in Sittingbourne, were charged with cannabis production and will appear at Maidstone Magistrates Court on Thursday 26th June.

A separate warrant was carried out at a property in Agate Court where plants believed to be cannabis were found in a bedroom.

In Willow Avenue, Faversham, a 38-year-old-man was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and was bailed until Monday 4th August.

Elsewhere, officers carried out additional patrols and intelligence checks in the Raspberry Hill Lane and Old Ferry Road areas of Iwade. Visits were made to local farms where landowners were given crime prevention advice.

Inspector Judd added: "This operation involved more than 50 officers in total, across several Kent boroughs and we will be conducting more days of action soon. In the meantime local officers will continue to patrol rural areas as part of their daily business, with every ward in the county having a named PCSO. If you see anything suspicious in your area call you can us on 101, or you can use 999 if a crime is in progress."

For more on what Kent Police is doing to curb rural crime visit:- www.kent.police.uk/rural and/or follow @kentpolicerural on Twitter.


'Serious Failings' At Local GP Practice

'Serious Failings' At Local GP Practice

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have issued a damning report on the Lakeside Medical Centre on Todd Crescent.

The CQC believe that patients of Dr Bijan Saha were being placed at "unacceptable levels of risk" and concluded that the failings were having a "major impact" on patients at the surgeryThe practice failed to meet 11 standards of safety and patient care with officials identifying problems with privacy and dignity for patients, cleanliness and medication errors.

The regulator is taking enforcement action against the surgery but is not legally permitted to comment on the type of action.

Michele Golden, CQC's Head of GP inspection in the South, told SFM News: "The issues that we have identified at Dr Saha's practice are very serious, and we'd urge anyone who uses it to read our full report. The failings detailed in the report show why we've decided to take action against him - although we cannot discuss the nature of that action any further at this stage for legal reasons. We've shared our concerns with the rest of the local health economy and have asked that they also consider what action they may need to take to ensure that people using services at this practice are protected from harm. People using this practice are currently at unacceptable levels of risk - and keeping them safe is a job for all of us. Patients are entitled to be treated in services which are safe, effective, caring, well run, and responsive to their needs. We'll continue to monitor this practice very closely, and will report further on the action we are taking in due course."

The action follows an unannounced inspection of the practice in March. Inspectors looked at 11 standards of care at the surgery including respecting and involving people who use services, the adequate care and welfare of patients, whether or not appropriate measures were in place to safeguard people who use services from abuse, whether there is adequate cleanliness and infection control and the effective management of medicines. They also looked at the safety and suitability of the premises, various requirements relating to workers, record keeping and the assessment and monitoring of the quality of service provision.

The practice failed to meet National Standards in all areas the CQC concluded. Patients told inspectors during their visit that practice staff would talk about other cases in their presence - breaching patient confidentiality, two patients said that they didn't feel listened to during their consultations and it was also found that medicines were not being handled or stored properly.

You can read the Full Report on the Care Quality Commission's website at:- www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-530779339.

Addict Jailed For Stealing From Disabled Woman

Addict Jailed For Stealing From Disabled Woman

A drug addict who stole a purse from a disabled woman under the guise of helping her has been jailed for 21 months.

Matthew Beaney, of no fixed address, was imprisoned by a judge at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday (11th June). The 29 year old had pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

The victim, a 50 year old Sittingbourne woman, was in Boots in High Street, Sittingbourne, on 6 November last year to collect a prescription. After taking the medication in store, she became violently unwell and vomited on the floor. Members of staff hurried to assist the woman, as well as Beaney, who was also in the shop.

However, while pretending to be concerned, Beaney was also seen creeping towards the counter where she had left her purse and placing it inside a folding magazine. He then left the shop and only then did the victim notice the purse - which contained bank cards, cash and family photographs - had disappeared.

Beaney was identified by local officers and arrested on 18th December. In interview, he denied the offence and suggested that he picked up the wallet by accident. He was charged with theft the following day. 

He was also charged with one count of burglary dwelling in connection with a break-in Chalkwell Road, Sittingbourne on 10th December. The victim in this case, a 50 year old man, had left the address in at 10.45am and returned almost 12 hours later to find his flat screen television and Blu-Ray player had been stolen. A few days later, a friend of his told him Beaney had sold him the items for £50.

Investigating officer, DC Richard Allingham of Kent Police, told SFM News: "Beaney was so desperate for heroin that he took advantage of a poorly woman when she was at her most vulnerable. He saw an opportunity and took it straightaway, even pretending to comfort her so he could get close enough to steal her wallet. It was a disgusting act of self-service that he later pretended to know nothing about, even suggesting he had picked up the purse accidentally. However, the evidence against him was overwhelming. A month later, he broke into the second victim's house and stole his possessions to sell them on for the same reason - to get money to buy drugs. Unfortunately drugs play a part in many crimes, which is why Kent Police works to combat demand and supply throughout the county. Beaney's conviction should send a warning to all those who believe they are above the law in Kent."

Swale Regeneration Conference Hailed A Success

Swale Regeneration Conference Hailed A Success

Swale Borough Council held their first Regeneration Conference "Putting Swale On The Map" on Wednesday (4th June) afternoon at the Coniston Hotel.

Addressing more than 200 delegates from local businesses, investors, key stakeholders and top executives from leading property consultancies, the main Guest Speaker, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP - Minister of State for Business & Enterprise, said that he was ‘fundamentally happy' to devolve power from central government and directly hand it to local communities through Local Enterprise Partnerships and that Swale offered "a superb location to do business".

Leader of Swale Borough Council, Cllr Andrew Bowles, told SFM News "I am delighted that Swale Borough Council has been able to host this first ever Regeneration Conference. With all the investment opportunities in the borough, this has really helped us to put 'Swale On The Map'. With seminars throughout the afternoon and keynote speeches that included Richard Upton (Spirit of Sittingbourne), and Lord Digby Jones (BBCs ‘Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter'), the event provided a thoroughly captivating round-up of how businesses are doing, where it is all heading and how the regeneration can happen for Swale."

Also at the Conference, the new updated Sittingbourne town centre regeneration plans were presented by the Spirit of Sittingbourne - the consortium behind the delivery of the project.

Police Appeal Following Serious Assault In Sheerness

Police Appeal Following Serious Assault In Sheerness

Kent Police local Swale Detectives are investigating a serious assault by a group of men in Sheerness at the weekend, which has left the victim with a fractured jaw.

Kent Police officers were called shortly before 3.30am on Saturday morning (31st May) to a report of an assault near the clock tower in Sheerness High Street. A couple - a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man from the town - had been on a night out. As they attempted to walk home, they were approached by a group of about 10 people near the clock tower and the man was reportedly assaulted. He suffered suspected multiples fractures of the jaw and is being treated for his injuries at a hospital in West Sussex.

Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Beverley Morrison of Kent Police, told SFM News: "This was a cowardly and unprovoked attack on a man by a group of people that has left the victim with serious injuries and he remains in hospital getting treatment for those. I am appealing for anyone who might have witnessed the assault or who might have seen a group of people walking together in the High Street area between 3am and 3.45am on Saturday 31 May, to come forward and help us with our enquiries."

Anyone with any information is asked to call DS Morrison on 01634 792588, quoting reference XY/19053/14, or alternatively they can contact Kent Crimestoppers free (from any landline) and anonymously on 0800 555 111.

MP Welcomes School Building Funding

MP Welcomes School Building Funding

Local MP, Gordon Henderson, has welcomed a new £2 billion fund to help rebuild schools most in need of urgent repair, which could benefit schools here in Sittingbourne.

The Government announced a second round of funding for the successful Priority Schools Building Programme, which is already helping 261 schools across England, including Westlands Primary School. 

Mr Henderson told SFM News: "Delivering the best schools for our children, so the next generation can gain the skills they need to succeed in life, is a key part of the Governments long-term economic plan to secure Britain's future. That's why it is great news for young people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey that there will be a new round of funding for the Priority Schools Building Programme. This scheme targets funding where it is needed most and has already helped Westlands Primary School in Sittingbourne. It's only by taking difficult decisions on public spending that Conservatives have been able to afford to protect the schools budget and provide funding for school rebuilding. Only by sticking to our long-term economic plan can we provide the first class education that our young people need to get on in life."



Former Bailiff Admits Shooting Dead Ex-Boss

Former Bailiff Admits Shooting Dead Ex-Boss

A man has admitted murdering his former boss in a tackle shop near Sittingbourne.

54-year-old Simon Olsen, of no fixed abode, shot dead fisheries owner Steven Langley, 57, inside his own shop in Tonge on Friday 29th November 2013. He pleaded guilty to one charge of murder at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday (25th April).

The Court heard that at 2.45pm on Friday the 29 November 2013, Olsen walked into the Fishery Shop where Mr Langley was working and shot him once in the upper abdomen with a double-barrelled shotgun. He had visited the shop several times early that afternoon looking for Mr Langley. When questioned by other staff, Olsen said he wanted Mr Langley's permission to shoot a duck. Another member of staff and some customers had noticed him walking around with the shotgun before he entered the shop for the final time.

The employee and the customers were in the car park when they heard a shot fired. Olsen came walking out of the shop and fired another shot up into the air before walking off. The employee went back into the shop to find Mr Langley had been shot in the chest and called 999. However, the father of two was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kent Police officers found Olsen in possession of the gun and inside his property was a bag he had packed in preparation to go to prison. He was arrested on suspicion of murder. They later charged him with murder in the early hours of 30th November 2013.

Olsen will be sentenced on Monday 12th May at Maidstone Crown Court.

Police Appeal Following Wormshill Collision

Police Appeal Following Wormshill Collision

Kent Police are appealing for information following a collision earlier this week in Wormshill.

A cyclist and a white Mercedes B-Class car were involved in a collision on The Street at about 5.25pm, on Tuesday (22nd April). The cyclist, a man in his 50s from Sittingbourne, was taken to William Harvey Hospital by air ambulance with suspected leg injuries. He has since been transferred to a London hospital for further treatment.

PC Celia Weller, at Kent Police, told SFM News "I would encourage witnesses who have not yet spoken to police to contact us. I am also keen to speak to the driver of a silver car, possibly a BMW, that was in the area at the time of the collision and might have information that could help police with their enquiries."

Witnesses, or anyone with any information, are asked to contact PC Celia Weller at Kent Police by calling 01622 798538 and quoting reference 22-1188.

Second Speedway Season Opens At Central Park

Second Speedway Season Opens At Central Park

By Derek Barclay

A bumper Bank Holiday crowd welcomed Speedway racing back for its second season to Central Park on Bank Holiday Monday (21st April) afternoon, as the Kent CTA Fire Kings plundered their first piece of silverware of the campaign claiming the Easter Trophy in a competitive clash with a spirited King's Lynn Young Stars' side down from Norfolk.

That the homesters were not going to get everything their way under sunny Swale skies was highlighted in the very first race as new Kent skipper Simon Lambert's bike shuddered to a halt on lap two courtesy of a faulty carburettor, meaning the Kings' number one was unable to assist fellow newcomer Luke Chessell's attempts to hold off the ultra-experienced pairing for the visitors of guest Ben Wilson and Darren Mallett serving up a maximum start for the Norfolk side.

The Kings though were imperious in the immediacy of their comeback, reeling off three 5-1s of their own in heats two through to four to establish an ultimately decisive lead. Young Londoner, Luke Harris racing at Central Park for the first time, was delighted to match the distinction achieved on the road last month when he won his first-ever competitive race by doing likewise on his first home trip out - the lively reserve pairing of the Northolt-based teenager Harris and a fourth King's debutant Brandon Freemantle setting the Kent side well on the way in heat 2. Ultimately six out of the seven CTA Fire Kings' riders were to record individual heat wins: the Eastbourne-based Freemantle celebrating his home debut with a decisive win over the rider he's replaced in the Kent line-up this term, Adam Kirby after the unlucky Chessell fell awkwardly in a rerun heat 8.

By that mid-way point the returning favourite son of the Central Park faithful, Ben Morley had underlined his hugely confident start to the season by reeling off two wins from his opening pair of rides and the only surprise was the Southend speedster had reluctantly to settle for two second places behind the visitors' top man Wilson, before partnering his captain Lambert to an impressive maximum in heat 15. The Easter Trophy was firmly in the Kings' possession way before that final ride though with Benji Compton and Lambert recording a pair of heat wins, as a winning nine points margin was established by the completion of heat 13. A local favourite in opposition colours made his mark (literally in his case) in the penultimate race, as former Iwade graduate Marc Owen recovered from a shaky start to the meeting by surprisingly out-gating the Kings' Compton.

There was certainly enough egg-citement on show to send the holiday crowd away happy. Next up for the Kent team are back to back away matches the weekend after next, visiting the Coventry Storm in a league encounter on Friday May 2nd before heading further north into the Potteries to do battle with Stoke on May 3rd. Next up at Central Park is another Bank Holiday afternoon meeting: with the always good value Mildenhall Fen Tigers from Suffolk visiting in a National Trophy match on the May Day holiday on the 5th. of next month.

Result and scorers:
Kent 52 (Ben Morley 12+1; Simon Lambert 10+1; David Mason 8+2; Benji Compton 8; Brandon Freemantle 7+2; Luke Harris 5+1; Luke Chessell 2)
King's Lynn 39 (Wilson 10+2; Cockle 9; Mallett 8; Owen 4+1; Hughes 4; Bailey 2+1; Kirkby 2) [Easter Trophy].


Appeal After 'Hit-And-Run' Collision In Rainham

Appeal After 'Hit-And-Run' Collision In Rainham

The grandaughter of an 85 year-old man, who is in a critical condition in hospital following a road traffic collision, is supporting a Kent Police appeal to locate the driver who failed to stop at the scene.

On Friday evening (11th April) Thomas Davis had attended the annual dinner of the Polhill cycling club in Upchurch. At around 11:20pm he was dropped off outside the Premier Inn on the A2, London Road in Rainham (at the junction with Maidstone Road). He crossed the road from the Sittingbourne-bound side towards the Premier Inn. As he reached the Gillingham-bound side of the road he was in collision with a vehicle which failed to stop at the scene. It is believed the car may have been a silver Peugeot.

The police and the emergency services were called and Mr Davis was taken to hospital. He suffered multiple, serious injuries and his condition is currently described as being critical. His grandaughter, Nicole Sawhney, who has been at his bedside daily, told SFM News: "Tom is an active cyclist, he lives in Lincoln but he used to live in Gillingham where he established the Polhill Cycling Club. He lives a very active life and whenever the sun is shining he goes out on his bike. He is the main carer for my Nan and this has come as such a shock to us all. He has serious injuries. Nine of his ribs are broken and his lungs are bruised. This means he is struggling to get enough oxygen. He has fractures to his vertebrae and bleeds on his brain. We are under no illusions and know he has a lot to battle through."

Kent Police Roads Policing Inspector, Martin Stevens, is continuing to appeal for witnesses to come forward. He told SFM News: "our investigation is continuing and we are attempting to locate the driver of the vehicle. The road is a busy one and we are confident that there would have been people and motorists in the area at the time of the collision. Did you see a vehicle either acting suspiciously or driving at speed at around the time of the collision? Were you driving along the A2 in Medway before or after the incident occurred? Do you have a dashboard camera that may have captured the vehicle at some stage that night? A man's life is in the balance and we owe it to him and his family to find out exactly how this serious collision occurred. Mr Davis is a father, grandfather and great grandfather, how would you feel if someone treated your family member this way? Someone out there knows what happened. Someone knows who was driving that car and I urge them to do the right thing and contact us."

Anyone who has information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit directly on 01622 798538 or alternatively they can contact Crimestoppers free (from any landline) and anonimously on 0800 555 11.



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