Local News

Government Grants Available For Local Businesses

Government Grants Available For Local Businesses

Businesses that have been forced to close or have been severely affected by the new restrictions can apply for one of the following business grants from Swale Borough Council:

  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) or
  • Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)

Businesses in rated commercial premises that have been forced to close can get grants of between £1,334 and £3,000 to cover the 28-day period from 5 November through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed).

Businesses that are affected by the new restrictions, but haven’t been forced to close, could receive one-off payments of between £1,334 and £3,000, through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy and property at the council, told SFM News: “We’re pleased that the Government is providing some financial support to help businesses which are significantly impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. As before, the government guidelines on who can qualify for business support are strict, but we’ll be working hard to ensure that those that do qualify receive help. Businesses can apply now until 2nd January, so I urge anyone needing help to visit our website for more information and to apply. Local businesses are at the heart of Swale’s economy and I’m glad the government is providing additional support this time around.”

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “While we do what we can to support local businesses, it’s important for local people to do their bit and act responsibly and stop the spread of the virus. The number of cases in Swale is still rising at an alarming rate and we all have to do our bit to ensure we don’t end up in a higher tier when these new restrictions end. If we don’t lower the rate of cases, local lockdown for Swale could continue if we’re placed in a higher tier than we had before. Please stay home unless going for essential shopping, work or medical appointments and remember to wash your hands, cover your face and allow space for social distancing. We can get on top of this if we all work together. It’s down to all of us.”

To qualify for a grant a business must meet certain criteria, and there’s more information, including how to apply for either grant, at www.swale.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Other support is available from the Government, and businesses can find what is available to them at www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

CCTV Image Released In Shoplifting Appeal

CCTV Image Released In Shoplifting Appeal

A CCTV image of a man has been issued by officers investigating a series of reported shopliftings in Sittingbourne.

Several incidents have taken place at the Shell garage on London Road since Sunday 4th October, in which alcohol has been stolen and members of staff threatened.

Sergeant Chris Skilton, from Kent Police, tikd SFM News: "We believe the man in the CCTV image may be able to assist us with our enquiries and urge anyone who may know who he is to get in touch. While we appreciate that only a small part of the man’s head and face can be seen, we are hopeful someone may recognise him from his haircut or the hooded top he is wearing.’

Anyone with any information is urged to call the appeal line on 01795 419119 quoting reference 46/178345/20. Alternatively they can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

M2 Closed In Both Directions Due To Lorry Fire

M2 Closed In Both Directions Due To Lorry Fire

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) were called to a lorry alight on the London-bound carriageway of the M2, in-between Faversham and Sittingbourne earlier today. 
 
The KFRS received the call shortly after 04:10am this morning and three fire engines and a bulk water carrier were sent to the scene, as well as a crew from the KFRS Technical Rescue Unit. 
 
The motorway was closed in both directions whilst crews worked to extinguish the fire. 
 
Officers from Kent Police Roads Policing Unit were also in attendance.

Drivers are advised to use the 'solid square' signed diversion route.

The coastbound carriageway of the motorway (between Jct 5 Sittingbourne and Jct 6 Faversham) re-opened at around 4:30pm but the Londonbound carriagewy is set to remain closed until the early hours of tomorrow morning, for resurfacing work and the replacement of barriers in the central reservation - please tune in to 106.9 SFM for the latest information.

Council Carries Out 500 COVID-19 Compliance Checks

Council Carries Out 500 COVID-19 Compliance Checks

Anyone worried about businesses not following the Government’s coronavirus regulations can report their concerns to Swale Borough Council.

With new restrictions in force, the council is increasing the number of spot checks on local businesses to make sure they are complying with the regulations in place.

The council has the power to issue fines to firms of up to £10,000 if they are found to be breaching the regulations, and the police can issue fixed penalty notices of up to £6,400 to individuals.

Cllr Roger Truelove, Leader of Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We are doing our bit to ensure local businesses are complying with the new restrictions. Our compliance team carried out more than 500 checks last weekend, on top of the 116 businesses visited before lockdown began. As expected, lots of businesses were closed, with mostly food establishments offering a takeaway service remaining open. Most of the businesses we visited were complying with the guidelines and we haven’t had to issue any fines yet".

He went on to say: "We want to remind anybody visiting a takeaway establishment to adhere to social distancing while waiting outside for their order, and to wear a face covering when inside ordering or collecting their food. We also visited essential retail businesses to make sure they were compliant. We carried out checks all over the borough, especially in retail areas and in places where we have received any complaints".

He added: "We encourage anybody who has any concerns about businesses operating outside of government guidelines to report their concerns to us so that we can carry out the required checks. It’s important for us all to follow the government guidance to reduce the risk of infections, because if we can’t level off the rise in infections in Swale, we will be facing a long period of restrictions. Any businesses that are unsure of how to implement the guidance and need advice can reach out to us for help and support.

Businesses wanting advice can contact the council on ehadmin@swale.gov.uk.

To report concerns about a local business in Swale not complying with the coronavirus restrictions, you can use the form at  www.swale.gov.uk/stay-safe-concerns.

To report an issue of people not complying with the instructions, such as large gatherings of people from different households, you can use the form at

www.kent.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/c19/tell-us-about-possible-breach-coronavirus-measures.

The latest advice and guidance for businesses is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Witnesses Sought To Fatal Sittingbourne Collision

Witnesses Sought To Fatal Sittingbourne Collision

Kent Police collision investigators are appealing for information following the death of a pedestrian in Sittingbourne.

The victim, a 16-year-old girl, died on Wednesday (4th November) following the collision which happened last Sunday 1st November on the A2 Canterbury Road at the junction with Murston Road.

The teenager was crossing Canterbury Road from the direction of Rectory Road when she was involved in a collision with a silver Vauxhall Zafira at around 6.25pm in the evening.

The victim was taken to a London hospital with serious injuries where she later died.

Officers from Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit would like to talk to anyone who witnessed the incident, or who has dash cam or CCTV footage who have not yet spoken to police.

Anyone with information is asked to call the appeal line on 01622 798538, quoting reference AH/CF/96/20, or they can email sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk

Council Takes Action To Support Local People

Council Takes Action To Support Local People

With new national restrictions now in place, Swale Borough Council is taking action to help support local people and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The council will be working with partners to monitor compliance with the new restrictions and has the power to issue fines of up to £10,000 to businesses who are breaking the rules.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essential health appointments. If people don’t already have a priority supermarket delivery slot, the council can help set one up, or work with them to find alternatives.

The Government is providing funding for business grants of up to £3,000 a month to support firms who are forced to close by the new restrictions, which the council will be running. The council is also overseeing a £3 million fund to provide further support for local businesses affected by the pandemic.

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of the council, told SFM News: “No-one wanted to be in this position, but we are, and now we must do all we can to get through this. We will continue to do all we can to help people and I am confident that if everyone works together and follows the rules, we will. But everyone needs to make sure they are doing all they can to stop the spread of this virus. The Government has indicated that these new restrictions will be followed by a return to the local alert level system. Before the national measures were announced, there was the real risk that the borough could have been put into a higher level, as cases were rising. So, if we want to keep people safe, and avoid further harm to the local economy, we simply must get the number of cases under control. That way, when the restrictions end, we will be able to return to less restrictions, and crucially, less risk of the virus causing further harm to local people and businesses.”

To find out more about how the council is working during the coronavirus pandemic visit: www.swale.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Swale Council Proposes New Housing Company

Swale Council Proposes New Housing Company

Swale Borough Council is proposing to set up a housing company to help deliver affordable homes for local people in the area.

A report is going to the cabinet this evening (Wednesday 28th October) proposing the setting up a local housing company to increase the supply of affordable homes in the borough, without placing a financial burden on the council.

If approved, council-owned land at the old M&D bus depot in East Street Sittingbourne, Fountain Street and Cockleshell Walk car park would be transferred to the company to provide around 139 new properties, in exchange for an equity share in the company.

Ben J Martin, cabinet member for housing at the council, told SFM News: “The prospect of setting up of a housing company is a key indicator of the high priority we place on delivering decent affordable housing residents need, and, if approved, will enable us to intervene directly in the local housing market. It would also give us control of the density, location, environmental standards and management of any scheme, so we won’t be at the mercy of developers trying to maximise profit. By owning equity shares in the company, we can get an income stream on assets that should go up in value over time, which reduces the financial risk to the council. We estimate build costs, energy efficiency and lifecycle costs of developing, managing and maintaining the initially planned 139 properties to be up to £23 million, which we would initially pay for through 50-year loans to the company. If approved, the company will enable us to build additional affordable housing, on top of the ones provided through the planning system, and housing associations utilising their homes England grant money in Swale. This would be a real ray of hope for local people who are in need of local, affordable housing.”

Cllr Ghlin Whelan, deputy cabinet member for housing at the council, told SFM News: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to provide the affordable housing the borough so desperately needs. Social housing is a nationwide issue and councils are looking for ways to meet the demand without being at the mercy of large developers. The number of people needing local, affordable housing is only rising, and it’s our duty to do what we can to meet that need.”

Stay tuned to 106.9 SFM and we will bring you the latest on this story #WeAreAllAboutSittingbourne

Swale Infection Rate Almost Double Kent Average

Swale Infection Rate Almost Double Kent Average

New figures released by Public Health England (PHE) show that the Borough Of Swale has seen 90 new COVID-19 cases in a week - one in six of all positive tests recorded in Kent as a whole.

This recent outbreak has seen the infection rate jump to more than 200 in three areas on the Isle Of Sheppey, compared to a county average (Kent and Medway) of 49.4 per hundred thousand.

Five of the island's wards appear in the Top 6 of the county's hotspots:-                                                                            

                                                   Infection Rate            Number of cases              Weekly Rise

  • 1. Sheerness East                     239.6                             16                             10 (166.7%)
  • 2. Sheppey East                        231.1                             20                             10 (100.0%)
  • 3. Minster South                        222.3                             24                            14 (140.0%)
  • 4. Minster North                        172.2                              11                              6 (120.0%)
  • 5. Kennington (Ashford)             7                                    9                              5 (125.0%)
  • 6. Sheerness West                      5                                    9                             -6 (-40.0%)

Kent County Council’s Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark, told SFM News that the situation is very concerning. "Cases are rising across the whole of Kent and Medway; however, we are seeing a worrying increase in cases across Swale and particularly on the Isle of Sheppey. There are a number of cases associated with residential settings, work-places and secondary schools and while some are contained outbreaks there may also be some community transmission, which is helping the virus to continue to spread. Therefore were urge the public in Swale to play their part by closely following social distancing, regular handwashing and the wearing of face coverings in public places to help keep the number of cases to a minimum.”

* The local numbers are still much lower than in areas such as Manchester (437.5) and Liverpool (642.5), where the tightest restrictions are already in place or are about to be introduced.

Five COVID-19 Cases At Westlands Secondary

Five COVID-19 Cases At Westlands Secondary

Five cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed by the Executive Head Teacher at Westlands Secondary School here in Sittingbourne.

Simon Cox confirmed the number of positive cases in a letter to parents last Thursday (8th October). In the letter Mr Cox said: "In all there have been five confirmed cases of Covid here at Westlands Secondaryl. This appears to reflect the increasing infection rates across Swale, although less than 10% of our pupil population are at home due to Covid related issues. Almost all of these of these are isolating merely as a precautionary measure and have no symptoms whatsoever. The cases include two teachers, one of whom has now recovered and three pupils, two from the same household".

 
All staff and pupils who came in close contact with the five individuals were told to self-isolate for 14 days.

Teynham Homes Without Power After Two-Car Crash

Teynham Homes Without Power After Two-Car Crash

Picture: Twitter/@KentSpecials

Almost 2,000 people were without power last night (Friday 9th October) following a collision on Lower Road, Teynham, at around 8.05pm.

Kent Police were called to the scene in which an electricity pole was damaged and a spokesman for UK Power Networks told the SFM Newteam that electricity supplies to 1,877 villagers were interrupted following the incident. Power was restored to 220 of them by about 8.30pm with the remaining 1,657 customers having supplies returned to normal by 9.10pm.

The spokesman went on to say: "our engineers had to safely repair the pole which meant that they had to temporarily interrupt power to 28 customers but their supplies were restored by 11.20pm".

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