Local News

Local MP To Stand Down At Next General Election

Local MP To Stand Down At Next General Election

Gordon Henderson, Member of Parliament for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, has announced he will be standing down at the next General Election.

Mr Henderson made the announcement in a speech at the Sittingbourne and Sheppey Conservative Association Annual General Meeting earlier this eveening (Friday 17th March) in front of members.

Before becoming an MP, Mr Henderson was elected to both Swale Borough Council, where he was twice Deputy Leader, and Kent County Council.

Mr Henderson, who has lived on the Isle of Sheppey for over 40 years, first stood for election as Member of Parliament for Sittingbourne and Sheppey in 2005, when he lost to the Labour Party by just 79 votes. He stood again in 2010 and his hard work in the community over many years was rewarded when he won with a 12,383 majority.

Mr Henderson's majority slightly decreased in 2015 to 12,168, however, it increased again in 2017 to 15,211 and most recently in December 2019, his majority went up to 24,479.

The next General Election has to be held by January 2025, however, it is expected to take place sometime in 2024.


Additional Patrols To Tackle Anti-Social Behaviour

Additional Patrols To Tackle Anti-Social Behaviour

There will be an increased police presence in town this weekend following a recent rise in reports of nuisance behaviour in Sittingbourne.

A 48-hour dispersal order, under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime, and Policing Act 2014, will commenced at 4pm today (Friday 17th March) and remain in place until 8pm tomorrow (Saturday 18th March) evening.

Kent Police have confirmed that patrolling officers will be visible in public spaces throughout the town – including retail parks – to deter crimes, with a particular focus on thefts, vehicle crimes, disturbances and other anti-social activities.

Inspector Vanessa Foster, of Swale Community Safety Unit, told SFM News: "We take all reports of anti-social behaviour seriously and residents shouldn’t have to put up with it. Additional patrols will be actively seeking to reduce any incidents of anti-social behaviour and will issue fines, make arrests, and charge offenders as necessary. I urge people to continue reporting incidents to us as they see it happen. The information is invaluable in ensuring any issues can be policed effectively".

Two Arrested In Connection With Lorry Fuel Thefts

Two Arrested In Connection With Lorry Fuel Thefts

Two men, suspected of stealing fuel from lorries, were arrested following quick work from a Kent Police dog and officers.

At around 3.45am on Monday (13th March) morning officers travelling on the A249 Maidstone-bound near Bobbing noticed a car parked close behind an HGV in a lay-by.

Two men then fled the scene as the patrol vehicle approached, with Police Dog Ciara and her handler called to assist in a search across fields.

Both suspects, one aged 30 and the other 21, were located shortly afterwards, arrested and later released on bail pending further enquiries.

A number of cannisters of fuel were also seized from the scene.

Inspector Steve Dunnett, of Swale’s Local Policing Team, told SFM News: "The theft of fuel from lorries can be hugely damaging to business owners who already spend thousands every year keeping their vehicles on the road. We take a very dim view of people who help themselves to fuel or other goods that do not belong to them, and will use every resource available to us to bring them into custody."

There have been a number of fuel thefts on this stretch of the A249 for the past 6 months.

Purse Thefts Reported In Sittingbourne

Purse Thefts Reported In Sittingbourne

Local officers are seeking witnesses following reports of three purses being stolen in Sittingbourne town centre.

The thefts are thought to have taken place between 9am and 1pm last Tuesday (28th February).

The victims were allegedly targeted in separate incidents at two charity shops in The Forum Shopping Centre and Roman Square, and also a store in the High Street. The crimes were only discovered at a later stage when the victims realised their property was missing.

Police Sergeant Ryan Chase, of Swale’s Community Safety Unit, told SFM News: "from our initial enquiries we believe two women worked together to commit these three thefts. We are actively seeking further information to identity them. I would remind shoppers to never leave handbags unattended on top of prams, shopping trolleys, wheelchairs or mobility scooters and to always ensure they are zipped up. A purse chain can be an effective measure against thieves. I’d also advise against carrying large amounts of cash."

The two women are described as being of medium build and around five feet and seven inches tall. Both were wearing dark blue jeans and dark thigh length coats. One was wearing a dark bobble hat and a light coloured face mask, while the other had a light coloured woolly hat and a chequered scarf worn over her face.

Anyone who has information which may assist the investigation should call Kent Police on 01795 419119, quoting reference 46/38663/23. You can also call Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or you can complete the online form on their website.

Car Club Trial Launched In Sittingbourne

Swale Borough Council, Hiyacar, Car Club Trial Launched In Sittingbourne

Monday (6th March) saw Sittingbourne get it's own hybrid car club launch - in part due to the success of the three year low emissions car club trial launched in Faversham in April last year.

The vehicles are supplied by Hiyacar, in partnership with Swale Borough Council, and are vailable to the general public on a quick and free app-based sign up and verification through the Hiyacar app. So there is now an opportunity to rent 3 hybrid vehicles, located across the town, for as little as £3 an hour or £35 a day. The rental price also includes insurance, car cleaning and maintenance.

The hybrid vehicles are now available for hire from the following locations across the town: Spring Street car park, Bell Road car park and Albany Road car park.

Graeme Risby, CEO and Co-Founder of Hiyacar, told SFM News: “We’re thrilled to be working with Swale Borough Council again, to launch another low emission car club. It’s great to see the continued success of the Faversham car club trial, and we’re excited to be offering yet more Swale residents affordable access to these vehicles."

Cllr Julian Saunders, chair of Swale Borough Council’s environment committee, told SFM News: “After the success of the first car club in Faversham last year, it’s great to be extending the trial to Sittingbourne. We are excited to be rolling this trial out further around the borough as a way to try and encourage alternative travel. The car club offers users an affordable, pay as you go alternative to car ownership, and has been shown to improve air quality and encourages more walking and cycling.”

Litter Angels Winner Presented With Poster

Litter Angels Winner Presented With Poster

Photo (L-R): Matt Hogben, Gordon Henderson MP, Angel Oduneye-Folarin and Paul Crocker

A Litter Angel has had her winning poster design put up in local McDonald’s car parks following last year’s anti-litter poster competition in primary schools across Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

Angel Oduneye-Folarin, who attends Bobbing Village School, won the 2022 Litter Angels competition. She was presented with a certificate, a personalised mug and a £50 cheque, whilst her winning poster was printed onto a metal plaque and will be displayed in the car parks of the McDonald’s restaurants, along with previous winning posters.

Local MP Gordon Henderson helped Paul Crocker and Matt Hogben from McDonald’s present Angel with her very own plaque to hang in her bedroom.

Mr Henderson, who created the Litter Angels charity, told SFM News: "The essence of the Litter Angels competition is that it highlights to young people the anti-social nature of litter. The youngsters really get it! Last year 41 primary schools across Kent took part in the competition and this year we hope for many more."

You can find out more about the local charity at: https://www.litterangels.org .


Sittingbourne Parkrun Celebrates Its 7th Birthday

Sittingbourne Parkrun Celebrates Its 7th Birthday

It was Sittingbourne Parkrun's seventh birthday on Saturday (25th February) with event number 290 and a celebration with cheers, cake and coffee.

Parkrun legend, 82 year old John Waterman, completed his 250th parkrun milestone as part of the celebrations.

Since the event started there has been 6,480 participants with a whopping 8,896 personal bests recorded. All made possible by 752 volunteers including four legged friends Bertie, Milo, Mollie and Blue to name a few.

Yvonne Crawford, Sittingbourne's Event Director, told SFM News: “Parkrun is a great way to keep fit and be part of a community. We were pleased to be able to celebrate our seventh birthday in style with cheers, cake and, thanks to parkrun’s sponsorship with De’Longhi, their coffee van which has been visiting events across the country since 2022.”

Yvonne added: “We mustn’t forget our hi viz heroes, without whom we couldn’t have put on such an event, and of course without our participants there would be no parkrun!  We are already planning for our next milestone event our 300th parkrun on 6th May 2023!”

The free 5km event takes place at Milton Creek Country Park every Saturday at 9:00am and is designed for people of all ages and abilities – including walkers, as there is now a new parkwalk volunteer role. 

It's all made possible by more than a dozen volunteers each week and they are always looking for new volunteers. Full details can be found on their website: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/sittingbourne

The local Parkrun was set up in February 2016 and regularly sees around 150 people take part every week here in Sittingbourne.

Dispersal Order Issued To Tackle Nuisance Vehicles

Dispersal Order Issued To Tackle Nuisance Vehicles

A dispersal order will be in place over the weekend to tackle nuisance vehicles in a rural area of Sittingbourne.

It will operate from 7pm tonight (Friday 24th February) until 7pm on Sunday (26th February) and covers Sheppey Way, Old Ferry Road, Swale Way and Barge Way near Kemsley Fields.

The order is being implemented by Kent Police due to an increase in reports of nuisance vehicles and dangerous driving in the district at weekends. It allows officers to stop anyone involved in anti-social behaviour and move them on from the area.

Sergeant Ryan Chase, from the Swale Community Safety Unit, told SFM News: "Residents have reported concerns about the dangers posed to other road users and the impact on the quality of life of the community. The order gives our officers additional powers to move on anyone causing a nuisance and, if necessary, arrest those who return to the area once dispersed. Those who persist in this behaviour also risk having their vehicles seized."

Anybody who wishes to report instances of anti-social behaviour near them can report it online via the Kent Police website.

Swale Councillors Agree 2023-2024 Budget

Swale Councillors Agree 2023-2024 Budget

At a packed Full Council Meeting, at Swale House last night (Wednesday 22nd February), Swale Borough Councillors finally agreed to a savings package of more than £2.8 million in the next financial year through a restructure of services and a review of council fees and charges.

The savings proposals were approved and the meeting also agreed that the Swale element of the council tax for the next financial year would increase by 2.99% - a rise, they say, of less than 11p a week for a typical band D property.

Cllr Mike Baldock, Leader of the Council, told SFM News: “We’ve seen a significant increases in our costs in the last year, and there has been a rise in demand for our help with things like housing as local people struggle with the cost of living. After years of cuts to our funding from central Government, we have been left to make some incredibly difficult decisions. Despite this, we have worked to agree a balanced budget that still looks to protect vital services that local people value.

He went on to add: “Our share of the council tax bill will cost a typical band D household just £3.75 a week, though most people in Swale will be paying less as most households are in the lower bands. I still think this represents real value given the range of services we provide, and maintains our position as one of the lowest council taxes in Kent.”

The final Council Tax Bill people will receive is made up of several charges from local services.

For 2023/24 the council tax bill for a typical band D property will include charges for:

  • Kent County Council: £1,534.23 (4.995% increase)
  • Kent Police & Crime Commissioner: £243.15 (6.57% increase)
  • Swale Borough Council: £194.94 (2.99% increase)
  • Kent & Medway Fire and Rescue Authority: £87.30 (6.01% increase)
  • Parish or town councils in areas where they exist.

The full budget report can be read on the agenda page for the full council meeting on Wednesday 22nd February.

Local Man Charged With Rural Thefts And Burglaries

Local Man Charged With Rural Thefts And Burglaries

A Sittingbourne man will appear before court following break-ins at more than 10 properties including a charity, in rural areas of the town and near Maidstone.

The alleged offences occurred between 30th September and 7th November 2021. Items stolen included power tools, bicycles, quad bikes, as well as valuable machinery including a John Deere lawnmower.

Oliver King, 36, of Glenbrook Grove, was arrested in a vehicle on the A2 after a short pursuit involving the police helicopter, on Monday 7th November 2022.

Following enquiries by the Maidstone Victim Based Crime Team, Mr King was charged with more than 20 offences including six counts of theft, four counts of criminal damage, and twelve counts of burglary.

He is bailed to appear before Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 14th March.



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