Local News

Council Hosts Compost Giveaway For Local Residents

Council Hosts Compost Giveaway For Local Residents

Swale Borough Council will be hosting a free compost giveaway this coming Saturday (24th April) from 10am to 2pm.

To help local gardeners feed their flowerpots, gardens, allotments and vegetable patches, the council has teamed up with partners Blaise Farm and Steve Pack Agricultural Services for the free giveaway. Blaise Farm takes the garden and food waste collected from around Swale and turns it into soil conditioner and compost for farmers to use to help grow crops.

The giveaway, running in Sittingbourne, Faversham and Sheppey on Saturday 24th April, and to ensure it is Covid safe, will be run as pre-booked slots between 10am and 2pm where residents can arrange to pick up 25 litre reusable hessian bags filled with compost. Each resident booked can collect up to two bags.

To book, call the booking line on 01795 417044 between 10am-1pm Monday-Friday to book a 10 minute time slot at one of the three locations. You will then be given a unique reference number which you will need to bring with you when you come to collect the free compost.

You will have the option of picking up bags of compost from:

• Sittingbourne – Milton Rec, along Vicarage Road, next to the tennis courts

• Faversham – Faversham rec, in the car park area

• Isle of Sheppey – Marine Parade, on the open space/car park fronting Barton’s Point Coastal Park (opposite the Shingle Bank car park).

Once all of the slots are booked, all the bags are gone, so you will need to call and book quickly.

Martyn Cassell, head of commissioning, environment and leisure, told SFM News: “We are doing this giveaway to show the many advantages of residents doing their bit through recycling their food and garden waste. By recycling, residents are helping the environment, reducing the amount of general waste they are putting into their green wheelie bins and creating a reusable product. Using the compost to help grow plants or food will also help to improve air quality and reduce carbon, plus provide a habitat for our wildlife. We encourage people to sign up for a food waste caddy free of charge if they are not currently using one by contacting us on 01795 417888. Residents can also pay for the garden waste service which provides regular kerbside collections of your waste, taking the hassle out of taking it to the tip.”

You will also be offered a free wild flower seedbom at the sites to help encourage pollinators and wildlife into more gardens.

To find out more about food waste collections, visit www.swale.gov.uk/bins-littering-and-the-environment/bins.

To subscribe to garden waste collections, visit www.swale.gov.uk/garden-waste.

Statement Regarding HRH Duke of Edinburgh

Statement Regarding HRH Duke of Edinburgh

Following the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh earlier today (Friday 9th April), a Statement has been released by Cllr Paul Stephen, The Mayor of the Borough of Swale.

The Worshipful Mayor said: "It is with enormous sadness that we learned of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and I would like to express our sincere condolences on behalf of Swale Borough Council and the people of the Borough of Swale to Her Majesty The Queen, and the entire Royal Family. For so many people here in Swale, across the United Kingdom and around the world, it is impossible to imagine the Royal Family without His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. To us, he has been The Queen’s constant companion since the middle of the last century, but in reality, he was much more than that".

"He was a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. Our own sadness at his death is nothing compared to the sense of loss felt by his loved ones. As a mark of respect, flags are being flown at half-mast across all council buildings, and arrangements are being made for people to share their condolence messages to allow them to pay their respects."

Books of Condolence

There is an online book of condolence if you wish to pay your respects, which can be found at www.royal.uk.

Alternatively, you can write to Swale Borough Council with your condolences to: Book of Condolence, Swale Borough Council, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne ME10 3HT.

A book of condolence is being opened at Swale Borough Council's offices at Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday.

They will close for archiving at 5pm on the day after the funeral.

The condolence books will be archived at the Kent History and Library Centre, once they have closed.

Tributes

Tributes can be laid at:

Tributes will be removed on the day after the state funeral. Any written cards or messages will be added to the official books of condolence and flowers will be recycled.

Other items, including soft toys, photographs and artificial candles will unfortunately have to be disposed of. If people want to keep them they should collect them by the end of the day of the funeral.

Flag Flying

As a mark of respect, flags are being flown at half-mast across all council buildings during the period of mourning before the state funeral , when they will be returned to full mast for 1 day after the state funeral.

Swale Borough Council flags are located at Swale HouseSheppey GatewayQueenborough Town HallQueenborough Park and on Swale Borough Council's Blue Flag beaches.

Driver Cut Out Following Bell Road Collision

Driver Cut Out Following Bell Road Collision

(Stock Picture)

Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called out shortly after 1:30pm this afternoon (Wednesday 31st March) to a collison.

The KFRS Emergency Cail Centre received reports of a crash involving two cars on Bell Road here in Sittingbourne.

Two fire engines attended and crews used hydraulic cutting equipment to remove a door from one of the vehicles to safely release the driver. 

Sittingbourne Named Third 'Most Resilient' Town

Sittingbourne Named Third 'Most Resilient' Town

Sittingbourne has been rated as the country's third 'most resilient small town' during the pandemic, in new research by London-based retail consultancy CWM.

222 towns were analysed in the study by retail consultancy CWM, with Yate (near Bristol) scoring the highest rating followed by Spalding (in Lincolnshire) and then Sittingbourne closely followed by Tonbridge here in Kent.

Jonathan De Mello, who leads CWM's retail consultancy team said Sittingbourne had come out well in the research as it had "lots of professionals nearby" and "more essential retail than most and was less exposed to decline".

All retail centres had suffered during 2020, with the worst annual sales performances on record, more than 16,000 store closures and nearly 180,000 retail jobs lost in the UK over the past year.

The Leader of Swale Borough Council, Cllr Roger Truelove, told SFM News: "It is always welcome to see one of our towns near the top of a league table. Nobody would suggest all is wonderful but this is us compared with 221 other small towns, all suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic. I am not surprised that we are in a more resilient state than most. It is nothing to do with the Spirit of Sittingbourne project. More relevant is the strong concentration of supermarkets in Sittingbourne and the fact they have been well used over the last year. An added factor, too, is the fact that so many people are working from home and likely to spend more in the town than when they were travelling to London to work. In this there is great opportunity for the future with people working from home and buying their lunch in town and using the improved opportunities for leisure".

Council Stickers On Bins To Reduce Contamination

Council Stickers On Bins To Reduce Contamination

Swale Borough Council will be placing stickers on household waste and recycling bins over the coming weeks to help residents cut down on recycling contamination.

The stickers will be going on all bins across the borough to ask residents to think about what they are putting in each bin to reduce recycling contamination.

The council say that they see a lot of food waste, used nappies, textiles, garden waste and black bin bags being incorrectly placed in to the blue bin with recycling.

If the levels of these contaminants are too high, the entire load may be rejected and everyone’s recycling on that collection round is lost.

With more people working from home there has understandably been an increase in weights for kerbside collections. This means it is even more important than ever that the right materials are going in the correct bins.

Councillor Julian Saunders, Cabinet Member For Environment at the council, told SFM News: “We want every resident to think carefully about what they are putting in each of their bins. We need residents to be part of the solution and help us ensure we can recycle what’s in our recycling bins, instead of having bin loads rejected from the recycling facilities for too many contaminants. The stickers will show what can and can’t go in our recycling and household waste bins, and if everybody makes a small improvement in how they allocate their waste, we can make a positive impact across the borough.

Cllr Saunders went on to add: “Every resident can make a difference when it comes to how they dispose of their waste. Whether it’s washing food waste from recyclables before placing them in the blue bin, opting to start home composting or asking for a food caddy for food waste, even small changes will help us recycle and tackle climate change.  It will also help create a circular economy where more products are re-used and recycled rather than new raw materials being used to create more waste.”

If you are unsure of what bin something should go in, Swale Borough Council's website now includes a handy Waste Wizard search tool at:– https://swale.gov.uk/waste-wizard

County Line Drug Dealer From Sittingbourne Jailed

County Line Drug Dealer From Sittingbourne Jailed

A drug dealer who supplied class A substances in Chatham has been jailed for three years and nine months.

Christopher Tregunno supplied heroin and crack cocaine on behalf of a county line named ‘Trigger’ and was twice arrested by Kent Police officers in 2020. 

The 30-year-old, of Tonge Road in Sittingbourne, admitted four drug supply offences and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday (9th March).

Tregunno first came to Kent Police’s attention on Monday 16th March 2020, when officers, on a routine patrol of Manor Road, observed him selling drugs to a known user.

The constables approached Tregunno and requested he open his clenched fist. He refused to do so and instead moved his hand behind his back, dropping two plastic cases in the process.

He then opened his hand to reveal two wraps of a class A substance, with the plastic cases later found to contain further wraps of heroin and crack cocaine.

Due to the need to carry out additional enquiries, including a forensic analysis of the substances seized, Tregunno was initially released under investigation. Despite being under investigation, he continued to offend and was arrested for a second time on Wednesday 16th September 2020, after officers carried out a warrant at his home.

A mobile phone was seized and the handset’s data revealed it was being used to coordinate the supply of drugs for a county line called ‘Trigger,’ which was active between July and September. Numerous communications which discussed drug supply were sent during this time period.

Tregunno was charged with possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of both drugs.  He has been held on remand since the arrest.  

Detective Constable Stuart Clayton, from Kent Police’s County Line and Gang Team, told SFM News: "Tregunno first came to our attention thanks to the vigilance of our patrols, who are continually attending areas known for drug supply, gathering intelligence and acting upon it. His determination to make money from supplying illicit substances is shown by his willingness to continue supplying drugs despite knowing he was already under investigation. I am pleased that a custodial sentence has now been imposed."

Council’s Waste And Street Cleansing Survey Underway

Council’s Waste And Street Cleansing Survey Underway

Swale Borough Council are currently undertaking a waste and street cleansing survey in which they are asking local people to participate.

The survey gives residents the opportunity to tell the council how the waste and street cleansing service can be improved before the current 10-year contract ends in October 2023, and will help guide the council’s future contracts.

The service is responsible for how residents’ bins are collected, how often the streets are cleaned, and how littering and fly-tipping offences are tackled. The survey asks whether people prefer mixed or separated recycling, if the streets are being cleaned often enough, and if vehicles that reduce the impact on the climate are important to them.

Cllr Julian Saunders, cabinet member for environment at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We want to know what we can do to improve the waste and street cleansing service we offer to residents. We want to know if residents are happy with their bin collection, if the roads are being cleaned enough, and if we’re tough enough on fly-tipping and littering offences. One of the questions we’re asking is if residents could pick one thing that is the most important for us to improve on - what would that be? With the contract coming up for renewal in the next few years, this is the perfect time for us to look at what’s going well and what we can improve on".

Cllr Saunders went on to add: “Possible improvements were discussed at the latest area committee meetings, so now it’s important that we hear from residents and understand their priorities as we put together the new service contract. Ultimately our goal is to offer a green and energy efficient service that helps us meet our climate and ecological emergency obligations, while delivering a consistent and reliable service for residents in the most affordable and cost-effective way possible.”

The waste and street cleansing survey is open until Monday 19th April and can be found here: www.swale.gov.uk/waste-and-cleansing-survey.

Charity Partnership Boosts Child Bereavement Service

Charity Partnership Boosts Child Bereavement Service

A £20,000 project, to support bereaved children and set up by two Kent charities with the aim of providing bereaved children the help they need, has started locally.

Demelza Hospice Care for Children, based here in Sittingbourne, has brought Rochester-based Holding On Letting Go (HOLG) on-board to provide pre and post bereavement care to their families.

Whilst Demelza will continue to provide the specialist care and emotional support for families of children with terminal or serious conditions with their medical and wellbeing needs, HOLG will work with staff to offer them guidance and training specific to bereavement care, plus support children ahead of a death, after the death or both.

By drawing upon HOLG's vast and specialist knowledge, the collaboration will help to implement the new Demelza Bereavement Model, to support their current bereavement offering to families and also to increase the skills and knowledge of the volunteer Bereavement Team within Demelza.

HOLG currently supports many families across Kent with individual, currently remote support due to the pandemic, but has also been allowed to continue with their flagship bereavement support weekends where children are invited to come and talk about their loved one who died, learn how to express their emotions, and find out it's OK to feel the way they do.

A big part of the weekend for the children is making memory boxes and items for it, which they take home and can continue to add to. While the children are with the HOLG staff, their parents can meet each other at a support group too. Demelza is one of the venues HOLG hosts the weekend events from and their families will be offered similar support.

The 12-month project will include working alongside families across Kent and providing training for Demelza staff at their three locations in Kent, South East London and East Sussex. The two charities share a 22-year history since they were both founded in 1998 and it's this special link that has brought them together for this collaboration. 

HOLG will partner with Demelza to offer:

  • Bereavement training for Demelza's staff and volunteers who support families at the hospice
  • One-to-one bereavement care for Demelza's families, offered alongside all of their other services
  • Bereaved children and parent support programme
  • The development of online and face-to-face parent/carer support groups.
  • Resource packs full of useful bereavement information
  • Creative memory-making packs for families to create and add to memory boxes - a huge part of bereavement care

The collaboration will be led at HOLG by Debbie McSwiney, who until three years ago worked at Demelza and had been a trustee of HOLG for many years alongside her role; so she knows both organisations well. Debbie told SFM News: "Both Demelza and HOLG have a focus on children, plus our long history together makes this a wonderful partnership. I'm really looking forward to working together with Demelza to support their bereaved families because I have seen what a difference the right support makes to so many of the families we have supported over the years and continue to keep in touch with. It's an amazing opportunity for two such knowledgeable organisations to pool their skills and resources to help build resilience within those families requiring our specialist help and support."

Jo Burton, Demelza's Therapeutic and Bereavement Lead, told SFM News: "The opportunity to collaborate with HOLG could not have come at a better time and I am looking forward to developing the partnership between our organisations, building on our strengths and sharing experiences. With the new Demelza Bereavement Model in place, and the volunteer team on board and currently engaged in training, HOLG has been able to share its invaluable knowledge and expertise in running groups, supporting families in pre and post bereavement work as well as offering us training in specific areas of specialist support for families. This is enabling us to open our new services confidently, knowing that good practice, based on years of experience, is being offered to Demelza families, ensuring a smooth transition and a positive step to the future."

Police Specials Tackle Road Safety In Sittingbourne

Police Specials Tackle Road Safety In Sittingbourne

Volunteers from Kent Police's Special Constabulary have taken part in a road safety initiative to help keep motorists safe here in Sittingbourne.

Last Saturday (27th February) a total of three Special Inspectors, three Special Sergeants and seven Special Constables dealt with issues including drivers not wearing seatbelts, speeding and lack of insurance in a targeted operation in the Mill Way area.

A total of 22 people were stopped and reported for not wearing a seatbelt, one for using a mobile phone at the wheel and one for not having any car insurance, which resulted in the vehicle being seized. Another person was given a traffic offence report for driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition.

Officers were joined by representatives from Swale Borough Council’s Environmental Enforcement Team, who dealt with environmental offences including fly-tipping, where one person was fined £400 for depositing controlled waste on the Isle of Sheppey.

Special Chief Inspector Alan Watson told SFM News: "Operations like this play an important part in targeting motorists who choose to ignore the law and put lives at risk. Using a mobile phone whilst driving is simply reckless because it only takes a second to be distracted and cause a potentially fatal accident. Such a mistake could change your life forever. Although the vast majority of people in Kent do drive responsibly there is still a small minority who don’t. This is unacceptable and we will continue to carry out enforcement activity within our communities to keep our roads as safe as possible. Special Constables are unpaid volunteers, many of whom have full time jobs and give up some of their spare time to assist with important and varied work such as this. I would encourage anyone thinking about joining to get in touch with us".

www.kent.police.uk has more information about becoming a Special.

Vehicle Linked To Flytipping Impounded In Iwade

Vehicle Linked To Flytipping Impounded In Iwade

Officers from the Environment Agency’s Environmental Crime Team, along with Kent Police officers, seized a vehicle from a farm near Iwade on Thursday (25th February).

The seized vehicle is an 8-wheeled tipper truck and is believed to be have been used to fly tip waste in the Rainham area.

Alan Cansdale, Area Environment Manager for Kent at the Environment Agency, told SFM News: "This sends out a strong message that we will use all our powers possible to stop waste crime which harms the environment, wildlife and the community, as well as undermining the work of companies that operate legitimately. To help avoid your waste ending up at an illegal waste site, we encourage you to ask for your waste collector’s waste carrier’s registration number and ask to see their waste transfer note, they must have these".

The owners of the vehicles now have until Thursday 18th March to claim to have the vehicles returned to them by the Environment Agency and if no legitimate claim is made, the vehicles will be sold or crushed.

Members of the public can report illegal waste activity anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via the online form.

You can check your waste collector’s by clicking here: waste carriers registration or you can call 03708 506 506.

The Environment Agency can seize and impound a vehicle, trailer or mobile plant without a warrant if it suspects:

  • waste is being carried without a valid waste carriers licence
  • the vehicle has been or is about to be used in an alleged waste crime offence
  • the waste duty of care is being or has been breached

When a vehicle is seized, the police and the registered keeper are notified in writing and to claim the vehicle they need to register their claim within 15 working days of the date of the notice. The Environment Agency may need to keep the seized vehicle and any contents for the duration of an investigation or criminal proceedings and if the vehicle isn’t claimed, or nobody is entitled to it, they can then sell, destroy or dispose of the vehicle and all of its contents.

Earlier this year the Environment Agency and partners launched the Joint Unit for Waste Crime, aiming to stop serious and organised crime in the UK.

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