Local News

Swale House Is Flying The Commonwealth Flag

Swale House Is Flying The Commonwealth Flag

Swale Borough Council has joined hundreds of local authorities up and down the country by raising the Commonwealth flag on Commonwealth Day (Monday 10th March).

At 10.00am five hundred flags were raised in unison across the British Isles to allow communities to express their commitment to the Commonwealth, to show their appreciation of the values it stands for, and the opportunities that are available.

Leader of the Council, Andrew Bowles, read out the Commonwealth Affirmation and Queen's Message at the front of Swale House, whilst the Duty House Superintendent raised the flag from the roof. After the prestigious flag was raised, Council Leader Andrew Bowles told SFM News: "It was a real pleasure to be part of the Commonwealth flag ceremony, with fellow members of the Cabinet and others outside of Swale House. This event took place up and down the country and reaffirms Swale's commitment to the Commonwealth."

Mayor of Swale Cllr Sue Gent was over at the Sheppey Gateway in Sheerness High Street with her Mayoral Cadet, Cadet Sergeant Jake Hanley of Kent Army Cadet Force in Sittingbourne, and both shared the responsibility of reading the Commonwealth Affirmation and Queen's Message.

Upon seeing the flag raised Mayor of Swale, Sue Gent told SFM News: "This is the first time that a ceremony of this scale has taken place for Commonwealth Day and I felt very honoured to be part of it and pledge our continued support to the Commonwealth."

The Commonwealth flag was also raised at The Alexander Centre in Preston Road, Faversham, at 10.00am to show it's support for Commonwealth Day aswell.

Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth told SFM News: "Flying a Flag for the Commonwealth is a most imaginative way for people in local communities - wherever they live, learn or work - to join together with others throughout the Commonwealth in a spirit of respect and understanding to celebrate the variety and unmatched diversity of our global family. I welcome and commend it."


Witness Appeal Following Nightclub Assault

Witness Appeal Following Nightclub Assault

Detectives investigating an assault outside a Sittingbourne nightclub that left a man with a broken jaw and fractured cheekbone have urged witnesses to come forward.

Kent Police were called to a report of a disturbance outside the Life nightclub in the High Street at about 3am on Sunday 23rd February. It is believed a 25 year old local man was outside the club with a friend when he noticed a girl he knew being spoken to by a group of men. Believing she was being harassed, he asked the group to leave her alone. The victim was punched in the face before being repeatedly assaulted while on the floor.

He was later taken to hospital for treatment for a broken jaw, fractured cheekbones and swelling and bruising to his head. His friend was also reported to have been assaulted and received a minor facial injury.

Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Cara Ferguson, told SFM News: "The victim had been on a night out in the town when he attempted to help a female friend who he believed was in an uncomfortable situation. He was assaulted by the group for his troubles and left with some quite nasty injuries. There were undoubtedly people coming out of the club around the time of the incident or perhaps walking past on their way home from a night out. I would urge anyone who might have seen what happened in the early hours of that morning, or who might have some important information, to come forward and help us with our enquiries".

If you, or anyone you know, has any information, please contact DS Ferguson on 01634 792584 quoting reference XY/6610/14. Alternatively, contact Kent Crimestoppers free (from any landline) and anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Grade II Listed Barn To Expand Community Services

Grade II Listed Barn To Expand Community Services

The transfer of Iwade Barn to the community in the village is to be discussed at the next Swale Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 12th March.

The recommendation is to offer a new Iwade Barn Trust the 125-year lease for the Grade II listed Barn located at Iwade Cemetery, the adjacent small garden area and associated parking facilities.

The barn is owned by Ward Homes and it is hoped ownership will be transferred to the council by June this year under a Section 106 agreement. The Parish Council approached the council requesting the use of a barn for use by the local community and has proposed the barn be used for an internet cafe, a meeting place and for events associated with church services.

Councillor Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Localism said: "By transferring the barn to the Trust, it will be run and used by and for the benefit of the Iwade community. I am confident the Trust will continue to develop activities for the community and the barn will grow to become the heart of the parish. Localism at its best."

It is expected that the Trust will consist of representatives from Iwade Parish Council, the Parochial Church Council and other interested members of the local community. Consultation has been undertaken with Iwade Parish Council, the Parochial Church Council, and the Ward member for Iwade and Lower Halstow, Cllr Ben Stokes, who all support the proposal.

The lease agreement for Iwade Barn is one of four asset transfers under discussion at the next Cabinet meeting as a result of the new Asset Transfer Policy and a drive for greater localism. Other transfers include a transfer of Faversham Allotments to Faversham Town Council; Queenborough Harbour Trust are being offered a lease to occupy Queenborough Quay and other associated areas; and Queenborough Town Council are being offered three separate leases for allotment sites in Queenborough. At the Cabinet meeting in February, a transfer of Kemsley Village Hall to Kemsley Community Centre Trust on a 125 year lease was also agreed.  

Police Appeal After Great East Hall Arson

Police Appeal After Great East Hall Arson

Kent Police are appealing for witnesses following a reported arson in Mulberry Way on the Great East Hall Estate here in Sittingbourne.

It is believed a fire was deliberately set outside the address between 2pm and 3pm on Sunday (23rd February).

Investigating officer, Detective Seargeant Lee Neiles of Kent Police, told SFM News: "The fire damage caused to the property appears to have originated from one of the wheelie bins positioned against the property.  Although nobody was injured, this could've resulted in serious injury to the occupants had it not been for the quick response from the local residents and fire brigade. I am appealing for anyone with any information about this incident to contact me directly on 01634 792556, quoting crime report XY/6844/14, or alternatively they can contact Kent Crimestoppers, free (from any landline) and anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Appeal For Witnesses To M2 Collision

Appeal For Witnesses To M2 Collision

Kent Police have confirmed that they were called to a road traffic collision, between junctions 3 and 4 on the coast-bound carriageway of the M2, at 1.40pm this afternoon (Sunday 16th February).

In the accident, which involved four cars altogether, one car landed on its roof in the middle of the carriageway.

A woman, from Camberwell in South East London, who was a passenger in the over-turned vehicle, suffered severe injuries and was taken to a London hospital by the Kent Air Ambulance. Kent Fire and Rescue Service were also in attendance due to fuel leaking from the vehicle.

Both carriageways' traffic was stopped for the air ambulance. The London-bound carriageway was re-opened at 3.30pm and the coast-bound at 4.15pm.

The injured woman is believed to have possible life-changing injuries. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.

The Serious Collision Unit, at Maidstone Police HQ, are appealling for witnesses to contact them on 01622 653430.

M2 Still Remains Closed Due To "Sink Hole"

M2 Still Remains Closed Due To "Sink Hole"

The 15 metre deep sink hole, that has shut the M2 between junctions 5 (Sittingbourne) and 6 (Faversham/Ashford) for the last 24 hours, is still causing traffic chaos this afternoon.

The Highways Agency has advised that they are hoping to have one lane either side open for tomorrow but there are no guarantees as urgent safety investigations continue.

Drivers heading to and from Dover are still advised to use the M20 instead.

The hole, between junctions 5 and 6, measures approximately 5 metres by 2 metres and 15 metres deep. 

A clearly signed diversion is still in place via the A249, the M20, the A20, the A252, and the A251 - using the solid black circle route coast-bound and the solid black square route London-bound.

Met Office Amber Weather Warnings

Met Office Amber Weather Warnings

The Met Office has confirmed that a vigorous area of low pressure is expected to move northeastwards across the UK today (Wednesday 12th February) clearing eastwards by the early hours of tomorrow morning. That have also confirmed that "this is likely to be accompanied by a swathe of southwesterly gales across many areas which may be severe in places. Winds will veer more westerly later in the day".

A first peak in the winds is likely over southern and England around the midday with the main swathe of even stronger and potentially damaging winds crossing parts of Wales then northern England later in the day. They state that "the public should be prepared for the the risk of disruption to transport and possibly also power supplies. In addition, large waves are likely to affect coastal areas. 

According to the Met Office, around 50mm of rain could fall locally through until Friday afternoon, which is roughly the amount normally expected in all of February. Winds of up to 60mph are also being predicted for Kent on Friday and the start of the weekend.

Stay tuned to 106.9 SFM for further information.


Joyrider Jailed After Sittingbourne Burglaries

Joyrider Jailed After Sittingbourne Burglaries

A teenage burglar has been jailed for two years after stealing a car and crashing it into someone's house in Sittingbourne.

18-year-old Jimmy Avery, of Woodbury Avenue in Murston, was sentenced on Friday 31st January, at Maidstone Crown Court, to 29 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, one of theft, taking a vehicle without authority and aggravated vehicle taking. He was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Avery was responsible for a number of break-ins into houses in Sittingbourne in which he stole car keys before taking the vehicle itself. He admitted breaking into a property in Allenby Walk on Tuesday 22nd October, gaining entry through a window and stealing the victim's handbag and car keys. He stole her Audi, joyriding it through Murston before abandoning it. A fingerprint left at the scene was later confirmed to belong to him.

On Tuesday 5th November, Avery broke into another property in Canterbury Road, Sittingbourne, stealing the car keys to a Vauxhall Astra. Again, he left a fingerprint behind. The stolen car was nominated for Automatic Number Plate Recognition, through which it was spotted in the early hours of 7 November near East Grinstead. A Kent Police patrol nearby pursued the vehicle when Avery refused to stop. Avery lost control of the car and crashed into a house.

In interview, Avery admitted all the offences, showing no remorse and agreeing he 'put his foot down' when he was pursued.

Investigating officer, DC Richard Allingham of Kent Police, told SFM News: "In my career to date, I've rarely come across a criminal who showed as little remorse for his actions or as little regard for his victims as Avery. He was completely unperturbed when I challenged him about his crimes. He offered little explanation aside from the fact he saw an open window here or noticed all the lights were off in a property there and thought he'd get away with it. Unfortunately for him, he didn't. I welcome the news he'll be behind bars for the next several months and can only hope it will give him an opportunity to think about the consequences of his selfish, shameful behaviour."


Archbishop Accepts Demelza Vice President Role

Archbishop Accepts Demelza Vice President Role

Demelza Hospice Care for Children has announced today that the Archbishop of Canterbury has become a Vice President of the charity.

Justin Welby was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013, after more than 20 years of ministry experience. He is no stranger to personal tragedy, feeling the call for ordination six years after his seven month old daughter died in a car crash in France.

Archbishop Justin joins high profile figures such as Jayne Torvill, Robin Cousins, Dave Berry, Lady Kingsdown and former chairman Des Crampton who are also Vice Presidents of the children's charity. The Archbishop also follows former Archbishop Rowan Williams who was a Vice President of the charity and who visited Demelza South East London in 2010.

Demelza celebrated its 15th birthday last year (2013) and provides care and support for hundreds of children across the South East who are not expected to reach adulthood through respite, symptom control, end of life care, counselling and support for their family.

Archbishop Justin said: "I'm honoured to be asked to be a Vice President of Demelza. The work of hospices is often misunderstood but places like Demelza are vital, helping to care for some of the most vulnerable in our society and enabling them to make the most of the time they have left, whether it is six weeks or six years."

Steve Hoy, Chief Executive of Demelza told SFM News: "We are delighted to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury as a Vice President of Demelza. We rely on the support of the local community and the generosity of organisations such as churches so to have the patronage of such an important figure in the Church of England is wonderful news for Demelza. We hope his support will help us raise awareness of hospice care and the vital work we do across Kent, South East London and East Sussex."


Council Committee Refers Case To Secretary Of State

Council Committee Refers Case To Secretary Of State

The case of two "missing" Councillors on Swale Borough Council, who moved to Spalding in Lincolnshire but refused to resign their seats, is to be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.

Alan and Jean Willicombe left their Woodstock ward in the autumn but have refused to resign, claiming they can still effectively represent their residents from 150 miles away from their Ward.

Swale Borough Council's General Purposes Committee met on Monday (3rd February) and the issue was raised by Labour Leader, Mike Haywood, on the grounds that whilst there is a residential qualification to stand, there is no residential requirement to serve the term of office locally.

At the meeting Cllr Haywood said: "It can't be right to qualify for election by living locally but conceivably to move away the day after the election count.  This is not specifically about the Willicombes but about an anomaly which is wrong in principle".

The Panel agreed unanimously to refer this concern to the Secretary of State, the panel consisting of a Tory majority and being Chaired by Council Leader, Andrew Bowles.



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