Local News

Van Fire Causes Long M2 Delays

Van Fire Causes Long M2 Delays

There have been long delays on the M2 motorway at Junction 5 (Sittingbourne) this afternoon, after a broken down van caught fire.

Traffic on the London-bound carriageway was held just after the Stockbury roundabout to allow emergency services to get to the scene and deal with the blaze.

The road was closed for around an hour causing long delays. No injuries have been reported.


Man Charged With Theft Following Shopliftings

Man Charged With Theft Following Shopliftings

A Sittingbourne man has been charged with theft after he was arrested by officers following a foot chase.

Shane Baker, 30, of Bluebell Drive in, Sittingbourne, has been charged with two counts of theft after being arrested on Thursday (17th January).

The charges relate to incidents on Monday 7th and Wednesday 16th January at a shop in Sittingbourne where, on both occasions, three bottles of alcohol were reported stolen.

Mr Baker was spotted in Sittingbourne riding a push bike and failed to stop for officers when requested to do so. He was pursued by an officer on foot and arrested near London Road.

He was charged and bailed to appear before Maidstone Magistrates' Court on Friday 15th February, however he was subsequently remanded in custody as he was wanted on a recall to prison.

House Fire Tackled In Sittingbourne

House Fire Tackled In Sittingbourne

Kent Fire And Rescue Service (KFRS) Firefighters dealt with a fire at a house in Peregrine Drive, Sittingbourne earlier today (Tuesday 15th January).

Fire crews were called at around 10.20am and had to wear breathing apparatus using two hose reel jets, a main jet and water from a local street hydrant to put the fire out.

The fire broke out in the roof space and affected the first floor of the two-storey terraced property.

There were no reported casualties and the cause of the fire is yet to be established.


Critical Water Main Replacement For Borden Village

Critical Water Main Replacement For Borden Village

A £520,000 scheme to replace a three-inch pipeline, in Pond Farm Road and Wises Lane, is set to get underway on Monday 14th January.

The pipe, which has burst 25 times in the last five years and 14 times since 2015, is set to be replaced with a larger pipe which can withstand high water pressures and deliver a more resilient drinking water supply for the future.

South East Water's Project Manager Jeremy Dufour told SFM News: "There have been a high number of customer contacts and complaints over bust pipes in Borden in recent years and the situation is now critical requiring replacement of the old water main. We are also taking the opportunity to increase the capacity of the local network to further safeguard future supplies of top quality drinking water to our customers."

The replacement water main work is expected to take 25 weeks although engineers hope to complete the project earlier by drilling the new pipeline rather than cutting open trenches in the road surface.

Traffic diversions will be in place at Pond Farm Road, then Wises Lane, as work gets underway.

For further information and for the road diversion map please click here.

Man Fined For Carrying Waste Without A Licence

Man Fined For Carrying Waste Without A Licence

An Eastchurch man has been convicted and was fined £500 on Monday 17th December at Medway Magistrates Court for illegally carrying waste, in a prosecution brought by Swale Borough Council.

Keith Hodgson, aged 56 and of Shannon Place, was pulled over as part of Operation Assist, in co-ordination with Kent Police on Wednesday 20th June 2018. He was carrying waste on his truck in Eurolink Way, Sittingbourne, but was found to have no waste carrier licence and no waste transfer notes. His vehicle was also impounded by police for having no insurance.

He was issued two Fixed Penalty Notices as a way to discharge his liability totalling £600 but failed to pay. He was also ordered to pay court costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £50.

Cllr David Simmons, Cabinet Member For Environment And Rural Affairs at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: "We have the power to issue on the spot fines to carriers who don't have the right waste transfer papers, and the police can and will seize vehicles if necessary. As well as taking action to catch those who fly-tip, we are urging people who need to get rid of waste to do their part. Anyone who takes away waste must have a licence. Simply ask to see it, and if they can't show one, find someone who does. If you don't, and the waste is found dumped, you could be prosecuted."

To check whether someone is licenced to carry waste visit the Environment Agency website or call 03708 506506. A new Fixed Penalty Notice for householders comes into force in January 2019. Anyone who fails to check that their waste carrier has a licence could be given a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice. For more information about fly-tipping, and details of what the council are doing to tackle it, visit www.swale.gov.uk/fly-tipping.

Cousins Jailed After Arson Incident In Stockbury

Cousins Jailed After Arson Incident In Stockbury

Two cousins have received prison sentences following a violent disturbance at a private address near Stockbury earlier this year.

At 6.20am on Saturday 5th May, William Smith, aged 29, and 23-year-old Eli Smith, went to a static caravan in a yard off the A249 occupied by two men and two women who were known to them. They smashed the patio doors and started to cause damage inside the caravan, which was also destroyed by a fire during the incident. William Smith also drove a car into some parked Transit vans owned by the victims.

The occupants of the caravan got out and were later found by attending officers standing on a grass verge at the side of the A249. Police patrols, including armed officers, and Kent Fire and Rescue Service went into the yard where the fire was extinguished. The caravan had been completely destroyed and two vans had been damaged. Officers later recovered 13 shotgun cartridges from the scene.

William Smith had left the yard and was arrested later that day, while Eli Smith was tracked down in Sittingbourne and arrested on Tuesday 8th May. William Smith, of Miller Close, Kemsley, later pleaded guilty to affray while Eli, of Lewis Close, Faversham, admitted violent disorder. They were jailed for 19 months and 33 months respectively at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday (21st December).

William Smith's father, also called William, is due to be sentenced in the New Year after pleading guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, and violent disorder.

Investigating officer, Detective Inspector Chris Greenstreet, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, told SFM News: "This was a very violent incident and it is only chance that nobody in the caravan was seriously injured. These convicted men have shown no remorse and a lengthy prison sentence is entirely appropriate".


Justin Welby Visits Demelza For Christmas

Justin Welby Visits Demelza For Christmas

The most senior bishop in the Church of England, Justin Welby The Archbishop Of Canterbury, made a surprise visit to Demelza Hospice in Bobbing on Friday (21st December).

He was given a tour by the president of Demelza Richard Oldfield and the Chief Executive Ryan Campbell and stopped to speak to children receiving palliative care and their families, as well as various kitchen, grounds and reception volunteers at the hospice.

The Archbishop told SFM News: "Every child and young person is a precious gift from God, and the care and support offered by Demelza is inspiring. At Christmas we remember how Jesus came to bring light to the world - and it's been wonderful to witness the light and joy brought by Demelza into the lives of so many families".

Demelza's President Richard Oldfield told SFM News: "It was wonderful to have the Archbishop at Demelza and to see him spending time with children and their families. It was really inspiring for all of us. The connection between the Archbishop's office and Demelza is very special".

Panto To Help Disappointed Aylesford Ticket Holders

Local Panto To Help Disappointed Aylesford Ticket Holders

Trio Entertainment in association with Swale Community Leisure Trust and Swallows Leisure Centre have stepped in to help disheartened families this Christmas.

Pantomime Producers Kevin Brown and Darren Paine of Trio Entertainment and the staff at The Swallows Centre were saddened to hear of the recent closure of The Maidstone Pantomime, upon hearing the news plans were put in motion that has allowed 100 free tickets to be made accessible for anyone effected by the recent closure of ‘Snow White' in Aylesford.

Anyone wishing to take the opportunity to access these free tickets must bring proof of purchase of the Snow White tickets - the tickets will be then issued on a first come first served basis and will only be available for this Saturday (22nd December) at 7:00pm. These tickets can be reserved by emailing andrea.chase@serco.com with proof of purchase for Snow White. Those that are successful in receiving the free tickets will receive a confirmation email as confirmation - the venue would advise that they bring this with them.

The Producers of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk' are also offering 10% off any performance with proof of purchase - and are looking at adding an extra performance on Christmas Eve. Jack and the Beanstalk stars Steven Arnold, who played Coronation Street favourite Ashley Peacock for 14 years, He will be starring as the giant's evil henchman Fleshcreep in the Sittingbourne panto.

Joining him on stage at The Swallows will be Katie Burke, who is returning after playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast last Christmas. And for the third year in a row, resident dame Tilly Trott will be played by Harry Moore. The role of Jack will be played by Tom Balmont and Olivia McLaughlin is Fairy Beansprout. The cast will also be joined by youngsters from the Kent School of Dance, which have their regular meetings at The Swallows.

Tickets for the eighth annual pantomime are on sale now priced between £8.50 to £12.50.

To book, call the Swallows Leisure Centre reception on 01795 420 420 or visit www.sittingbournepanto.co.uk.

Police Fun Day Raises Over £700 For Charity

Police Fun Day Raises Over £700 For Charity

A charity has had a welcome financial boost following a Kent Police Fun Day earlier in the year here in Sittingbourne.

In September 2018 the Kent Police Recreation Association organised the family fun day which, due to 2018 being the centenary year of World War One, was themed throughout with activities including a trench experience and wartime victory live band. Two veterans from World War Two were also guests of honour at the event.

During the event donations were made towards the Royal British Legion and on 6th December Swale's Chief Inspector Rachel McNeil and PC Adrian Goodsell presented a cheque to Richard Palmer, from the Swale branch of the Royal British Legion (pictured above).

Chief Insp McNeil told SFM News: "the Royal British Legion is a fantastic charity which helps to support those who have fought for our country and I'm really pleased we were able to raise £716.33p for such a worthwhile cause. I hope that the money can help a lot of people who selflessly help others".

Free Christmas Car Parking This Saturday

Free Christmas Car Parking This Saturday

The Spirit of Sittingbourne, the developer behind the town centre regeneration, will be offering free parking at all car parks in Sittingbourne this coming Saturday (8th December).

They have told SFM News that move comes as an expression of gratitude to Sittingbourne residents for their patience during the recent re-generation roadworks. Spirit Of Sittingbourne has covered the cost of parking with Swale Borough Council and the decision to cover the costs followed feedback from local businesses who were concerned after Swale BC announced they will not be providing free car parking this December, as they have done in previous years.

The free parking will apply to all car parks in Sittingbourne, listed below:

Location     Type Spaces Disabled Motorcycle  Bicycle
Albany Road        Pay and Display - short stay 104     5     1     4
Central Avenue      Pay and Display - short stay     60     4     1             4
Cockleshell Walk    Pay and Display - long stay     96     6     0     0
Crown Quay Lane Pay and Display - short stay     42     3     1     0
The Forum     Pay and Display - short stay    162     6     2     4
Swallows     Pay and Display - short stay        86     6     0     20
Swale House*        Pay and Display - short stay        72     0     0     0
Milton High Street  Pay and Display - short stay        10     0     0     2
Spring Street     Pay and Display - long stay     72     0     0     0
Bell Road     Pay and Display - long stay     24     2     0     0

A Spirit of Sittingbourne spokesperson told SFM News: "We are delighted to be offering free car parking in Sittingbourne town centre as local businesses have understandably felt the impact over the disruptive summer of roadworks and we wanted to make sure thar they get some extra help over the crucial festive trading period. We are encouraging shoppers to take advantage of the free parking and support their local businesses by visiting Sittingbourne town centre as part of their Christmas shopping this December."


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