Local News

Pupils Told To Self-Isolate After COVID-19 Alert

Pupils Told To Self-Isolate After COVID-19 Alert

The new academic year hasn't got off to a great start for five Sittingbourne Schools in regards to the current COVID-19 Coronavurus pandemic.

Firstly, yesterday (Monday 7th September) a group of pupils and teachers were told to self-isolate after a Year 6 child tested positive for COVID-19 at St Peter's Catholic Primary School in West Ridge, after staff were informed of the case by PHE (Public Health England). Also on Monday two children at South Avenue Primary School's in Year 1 and 5 bubbles tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile staff at Highsted Grammar School had to write to parents today (Tuesday 8th September) to say they had been alerted by Public Health England (PHE) that "a number of our pupils have been in contact with a pupil that has tested positive for COVID-19".

Bapchild and Tonge CE Primary School in School Lane, Bapchild, sent letters to parents saying a child in Year 1 had come down with COVID-19. Head Christian Kelly wrote: "Having been informed late on Monday afternoon that a child in Year 1 had tested positive for COVID-19 the school has followed government guidelines, by contacting Public Health England and, acting on their advice, asked all pupils in the relevant year group to remain at home for the next 14 days."

Westlands Primary School, in Homewood Avenue, wrote to parents as well to say a case had been confirmed in their school with all Year 1 children being told to self-isolate.

Earlier today Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the county satnds at 8658 in Kent and 1148 in Medway. This equates to a rate per 100,000 of population – 547.4 for Kent and 412.1 for Medway.

* The Public Health England figures are issued on a daily basis and are based on a national, regional and upper tier authority level. From 2 July, they include pillar one (tests carried out by NHS and PHE labs) and pillar two testing (tests in the wider community).

£50,000 Funding Boost To Support Leisure Centres

£50,000 Funding Boost To Support Leisure Centres

Swale Community Leisure (SCL) has received a funding boost from Swale Borough Council to help it continue to deliver essential health and fitness services for residents.

SCL is the charitable trust that operates Swallows Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne and Sheppey Leisure Complex in Sheerness on behalf of the council and the £50,000 of funding from the council is in addition to the council’s significant investment of up to £800,000 to pay for repairs to the roof at Swallows, which was damaged in Storm Ciara earlier in the year.

SCL not only operates the leisure centres in order to provide an affordable and high quality leisure service to local people, it delivers activities both inside and outside the centres that support unemployed young people, disabled groups and vulnerable individuals with a wide range of health needs. 

SCL say: "the continuing partnership with SBC and the financial support given, will ensure that these services can continue to be delivered and make a positive impact on the lives of recipients".

Dave Harcourt, Chief Executive Officer at SCL, told SFM News: “The first half of 2020 has presented us with incredible difficulties, mainly in the shape of Storm Ciara which destroyed Swallows roof and followed by the COV-19 lockdown. Nevertheless, we have worked through this period with our partners at Swale Borough Council to ensure that time has not been wasted in securing a long term solution for the roof and preparing ourselves for reopening when it was allowed. Without their support, both financially and professionally, it’s difficult to imagine how we might have got through this time. Now we can continue to recover and work towards rebuilding the services that we know the people of Swale will truly benefit from.”

Cllr Angela Harrison, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “It’s been a tough year for SCL, so I’m glad we can offer them this financial support to continue providing essential services for local people. The pandemic has had a huge impact on their operations, but also shows why we need to make sure people are able to keep themselves fit and healthy. We don’t know yet if there will be a second wave of the virus, but we do know that people who are healthy and active are better placed to fight it. Even if we don’t see cases rise again, more people are committed to keeping themselves fit and healthy, and this money will help make sure they can.”

Swale Community Leisure (SCL) is a not for profit Registered Society with Charitable Status.

Jail For Man Who Faked Cancer To Control Partner

Jail For Man Who Faked Cancer To Control Partner

An abusive boyfriend from Sittingbourne who lied that he had terminal cancer in order to control and manipulate his partner has been sentenced to prison.

Kevin Bevis subjected a woman to a three-year campaign of abuse, intimidation and violence which also included him choking his victim. Bevis was in a relationship with the woman between October 2016 and December 2019, during which time he imposed a number of rules within her own home, including restrictions over when she could see her own daughter.

By early 2018 Bevis told the victim he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and claimed he was attending several hospitals. He sometimes took the victim with him to waiting rooms under the pretence of appointments. Bevis would wrap bandages around his arms, wrists and head and consume tablets and other substances he claimed were medication.

By the following year Bevis claimed the cancer had spread to his brain. He would indicate fake pain in front of the victim and her family. He also told friends and work colleagues he was dying. The victim stayed with Bevis, concerned he needed care and support and was terminally ill, but continued to be the subject of his demands and coercive behaviour.

In November and December of 2019, Bevis carried out separate assaults against the victim, beating her and placing his hands around her neck to throttle her. He threatened ’I’ll kill you and myself anyway, I’ve got nothing to live for’.

Kent Police were informed of the abuse on Thursday 19th December 2019 and Bevis was subsequently arrested. He confessed during interview he had faked his illness, as he feared the victim would leave him. Bevis was charged with engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. He was further charged with two counts of assault by beating. Aged 38, of Woodside Gardens, Sittingbourne, he pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court and was sentenced on Tuesday 11 August 2020 to 18 months’ imprisonment. Bevis was also made subject of a five-year restraining order.

Leading the investigation was PC Christopher Williams, who told SFM News: "Bevis went to incredible lengths to deceive and control his victim, who even took on extra jobs so he didn’t have to work and could enjoy what she thought were the last months of his life. He has subjected her to repeated and sustained psychological abuse causing the victim a huge amount of distress, fear and anxiety. We are grateful that she has shown tremendous courage in coming forward and helping us secure this important conviction. I would also like to remind people there is a wealth of support on offer to anyone who is suffering this kind of abuse."

Police To Increase Patrols In Public Spaces And Beaches

Police To Increase Patrols In Public Spaces And Beaches

Kent Police have confirmed that increased police patrols will be taking place in public spaces and on beaches over the coming days to help remind people about social distancing advice, deter illegal mass gatherings and deal with any associated crime and disorder.

Forecasts for the weekend predict some wet weather for the county but Kent Police will be having an increased presence to make sure those who do venture out do so responsibly.

Kent Police have said that local officers continue to carry out enquiries into a disturbance in Greatstone following a large gathering on the beach last Sunday (9th August), following which four officers sustained minor injuries. As a result, a 29-year-old man from Stockwell was charged with dangerous driving and actual bodily harm. Enquiries continue to identify those responsible for throwing bottles which hit attending officers.

In addition, Kent Police say that they also became aware of a seafront event which was rumoured to be organised for Leysdown on Wednesday (12th August ). Officers contacted the organiser and travelled to Stratford, London to engage with those planning to attend the event to remind them of the latest health advice. The group eventually travelled to Essex where two men were arrested for conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police, Nikki Faulconbridge, told SFM News: "‘As we continue to investigate a disturbance in Greatstone, those planning mass gatherings are warned to think again and seriously consider the detrimental impact these can have on the communities they are held in as well as the health risks in the current Covid-19 context. I also want the people of Kent to be assured that Kent Police will do everything it can by working with partner agencies such as local councils and other police forces to minimise the impact large gatherings can have on our communities. Any gatherings found to be illegal will be dealt with robustly and officers continue to monitor the situation across the county. The majority of people are following the Government advice but we will engage with those fail to do so, explain the guidelines and encourage them to adhere to them. Covid-19 remains a serious worldwide health risk and it is important that everyone visiting Kent’s beaches, parks and outdoor spaces continue to keep a safe distance from one other."

Witnesses to the Greatstone altercation, who are yet to speak to Kent Police, are asked to call the force on 01843 222 289 quoting reference 09-0593. Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Mud Rescue Undertaken At Lower Halstow

Mud Rescue Undertaken At Lower Halstow
Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called to reports of three men in a boat had become stuck in mud on the River Medway in Lower Halstow, last night 
 
Five fire engines were sent to the scene off Lapwing Drive, just after 8:40pm last night (Monday 10th August)  along with the Water Safety Unit.
 
Crews worked with  HM Coastguard to bring the trio safely back onto dry land using mud rescue equipment. 
 
The men were passed into the care of the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). Officers from Kent Police were also in attendance.
 

SBC To Introduce Air Quality Anti-Idling Legislation

SBC To Introduce Air Quality Anti-Idling Legislation

Councillors have approved powers that allow Swale Borough Council to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to people who leave their vehicle idling while not in use.

The powers mean that anybody who leaves their engine running unnecessarily while not in use can be issued a £20 fixed penalty notice if they do not turn off their engine when asked. Anti-Idling regulations came into effect in 2002 and apply to all vehicles including cars, taxis, buses and all commercial vehicles. Swale say that research shows that an idling vehicle can emit up to 20 times more of some pollutants that one travelling at 32mph.

Every minute a car idles it produces enough exhaust emissions to fill 150 balloons with harmful chemicals including cyanide, NOx and PM2.5. These microscopic pollutants can cause asthma and worsen chronic illness such as lung cancer and emphysema and can be particularly damaging for children.

Cllr Tim Valentine, cabinet member for the environment at the council, told SFM News: “These new powers will become part of our air quality action plan to protect residents against further pollution. By enforcing this legislation, we hope to raise public awareness about the damage that can be caused to people’s health by leaving your car idling unnecessarily. We’ll focus on educating drivers to help provide cleaner air across the borough, particularly for residents who live in Air Quality Management Areas and children going to and from school every day. We don't want to issue fixed penalty notices, and it will be a last resort, but we do want to enforce the anti-idling regulations more effectively to improve air quality. We’ve seen a huge improvement in air quality this year as people stayed at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and those improvements have continued as people use alternative modes of transport.  We want to encourage people to continue the good work and walk, cycle and use public transport wherever possible to help us provide cleaner air for the borough.  We already have an anti-idling campaign in action at three local schools via the Clean Air for Schools campaign, so the introduction of this legislation will allow us to extend this campaign across the borough. Leaving your car idling for just 10 minutes every time you do the school run creates 1,520m³ of excess pollutant fumes every year which is enough to fill two jumbo jets.”

Now approved, the council say they will work to install the new measures later this year.

For more information about improving air quality in Swale visit www.swale.gov.uk/air-quality.

M2 Motorway Dangerous Driver Jailed

M2 Motorway Dangerous Driver Jailed

A dangerous driver, who severely injured another motorist, has been jailed.

Hughie Coyle, 22, of Springhouse Road, Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday (31st July) to three years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and one count of driving while disqualified.

He was charged after being arrested on Saturday 18th May 2019 following a collision near a service station on the London-bound carriageway of the M2 between junction 5 and junction 4.

He caused life changing injuries to another driver after dangerously driving a gold Volvo estate car which collided with a black Citroen Berlingo van at around 2.30pm.

Coyle was being followed by an unmarked police car after officers became suspicious of the vehicle. Prior to the collision officers confirmed that he had been weaving in and out of traffic and driving at speeds of around 90mph. He then exited the M2 towards the Moto service station and started to speed up before he collided with the black van which caused the vehicle to spin and the driver to be ejected.

Coyle’s car then collided with a raised kerb which caused a wheel to be ripped off and the car to set alight before its momentum took it into another vehicle, which sustained minor damage. When the estate came to a stop, he fled the scene on foot and was pursued by one of the officers who had been in the unmarked police car and was promptly arrested. The driver of the van was taken to a London hospital via air ambulance and suffered life changing injuries as a result of the collision. A passenger inside the van was taken to a local hospital as a precaution following the incident.

A 19-year-old woman, who was a passenger inside Coyle’s car, was also arrested at the scene, but later released without charge.

Following the incident Coyle was released pending further investigation and was recalled to prison having breached his probation. He was later released on licence and charged with the driving offences via postal charge. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear at court and he was placed on Kent Police’s Most Wanted list and was later apprehended.

As part of sentencing he was also disqualified from driving for more than six years which will come into effect upon his release from prison. He was also further sentenced to eight months in jail for an unconnected assault.

Kent Police referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct due to the proximity of the unmarked police vehicle prior to the collision. An investigation found no fault on behalf of the officers who had been pursuing Coyle.

Investigating officer PC Dawn Smith, of Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, told SFM News: ‘Coyle’s reckless and dangerous driving endangered himself and other road users and resulted in an innocent member of the public receiving serious life changing injuries which he has to face every day. He attempted to evade officers prior to the collision and immediately after and continued to do so even after he was charged. I’m pleased he has been sentenced and I hope this can offer a little comfort to those affected by his actions on this day.’

Firefighters Tackle Field Fire Near Sittingbourne

Firefighters Tackle Field Fire Near Sittingbourne

Stock Picture

Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called earlier today (Monday 3rd August) to field of corn stubble and straw alight off of Bottom Pond Road, Wormshill, just outside Sittingbourne.

Three fire engines were sent to the scene and crews used hose reel jets, beaters and water from portable tanks (called flexi packs) to put the fire out.

There were no reported casualties and the cause is not yet known. 

Appeal After Fatal Overnight Collision On The M2

Appeal After Fatal Overnight Collision On The M2

Information is being sought following a fatal collision on the M2 near Sittingbourne overnight.

The incident, which involved two cars, took place on the Londonbound carriageway, close to the junction 5 exit, at around 12.50am in the earky hours of this morning (Monday 3rd August) and involved a blue Toyota Yaris and a black BMW 320D. The sole occupant of the Toyota, a 34-year-old man from Rochester, died at the scene.

A 26-year-old man, from Chatham, was also arrested for causing death by dangerous driving and he remains in custody as enquiries continue.

Serious collision investigators from Kent Police are investigating the circumstances and the Londonbound M2 is currently closed between junctions 6 and 5 to allow enquiries to take place at the scene.

Officers would also like to obtain any dashcam footage from motorists who were travelling on the M2 and captured the cars travelling in the moments leading up to the collision. This includes footage that may have been recorded by people travelling on the opposite carriageway.   

They would additionally to speak with anyone who has any other information that can help them establish the full circumstances.

Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police on 01622 798538 quoting KH/DC/066/20.

Council Opens Second Round Of Discretionary Grants

Council Opens Second Round Of Discretionary Grants

Small businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry could be eligible for support from Swale Borough Council’s second round of discretionary grants.

The second round of the discretionary grants scheme is aimed at those businesses who directly support Swale’s visitor economy and who haven’t yet qualified for any government grants to support them through the impact of COVID-19.

The council has already handed out more than £1 million in discretionary grants designed to help specific types of micro and small businesses who were not eligible for the small business grant scheme or the retail, leisure and hospitality grant schemes offered by the government.

Now that 130 businesses have received their grants, the council is opening the discretionary scheme for a second round.

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy and property at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “The government guidelines on who should receive the discretionary grants were very strict in the first round. Now that we’ve helped 130 businesses who fell into the categories of flexible workspaces, market trader’s, B&Bs and charities, we are adding another category for businesses that specifically support our visitor economy. This includes tourism businesses and our hospitality and leisure service providers who are crucial to helping get our local economy going, especially now the summer is here, and lockdown restrictions are easing. We have £400,000 left in the pot to give to eligible businesses and if we have some remaining after this round, we may open the scheme up for a third round to expand the criteria even more. Local businesses are important to the community and we’re doing everything we can to support them. As well as the discretionary grants, we’ve also paid more than £27 million in small business and retail grants.

The grant scheme is open from Wednesday 22nd July for one week only.

Now that the first four categories have received support, a fifth category has been added:

  1. small businesses in shared premises or other flexible workspaces, e.g. industrial parks, science parks, incubators etc, which do not have their own business rates assessment
  2. regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment
  3. B&B’s that pay council tax instead of business rates
  4. charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief that could otherwise have been eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief
  5. businesses that directly support Swale’s visitor economy; this can include tourism, hospitality & leisure service providers but does not include sporting activity providers and/or supply chain businesses.

For more information about what help is available for businesses visit www.swale.gov.uk/advice-for-businesses.

Businesses wanting to sign up for updates from the council should email edu@swale.gov.uk.

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