Local News

New Rodmersham Conservation Area Agreed

New Rodmersham Conservation Area Agreed

Councillors have agreed to designate a new conservation area in Rodmersham Church Street.

Swale Borough Council’s proposal to create a new conservation area around the church was agreed at last week’s cabinet meeting (Wednesday 16th March).

Cllr Mike Baldock, cabinet member for planning at the council, told SFM News: “After reviewing the nearby conservation areas at Turnstall and Rodmersham Green, it was clear that the thirteenth century, grade I listed church, the collection of grade II listed buildings and surrounding orchards at Rodmersham Church Street would benefit from the protection of a conservation area. We went to public consultation on the proposed conservation area for Rodmersham Church Street in November and received valuable feedback from the parish council and local residents".

Cllr Baldock went on to add: “Following the consultation, we moved our proposed boundary northwards to include Ashgores House after feedback from the parish council and several residents expressed the importance of the period building as a visual gateway into the hamlet. We also received a request to include Rodmersham House but the vast gap of landscape between the house and the church does not meet the Historic England criteria for inclusion in a conservation area, however, not including the Rodmersham House cluster does not diminish the significance of the listed building or its historic and ongoing connection with the church-centred hamlet.”

Cllr Alastair Gould, deputy cabinet member for planning at the council, told SFM News: “A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest and it’s our job to preserve the character of the buildings, road layout, landscape, paths and boundaries all included within the boundary. Now that councillors have agreed to the new conservation area, we’ll register the area with Historic England and publish the details on our website.”

For more information about conservation areas in Swale you can visit the council's website at: https://swale.gov.uk/planning-and-regeneration/heritage-and-landscape/conservation-areas

Violent Assault On Partner Attacker Jailed

Violent Assault On Partner Attacker Jailed

A man who repeatedly stamped on his former partner’s head during a violent assault near Rochester has been jailed.

Aaron Boon also pulled a clump of hair from his victim, during a sustained ordeal which was witnessed by two young children.

Boon, aged 29, carried out the assault on the evening of 29 November 2021, after an argument with his victim had spilled into a communal area outside a flat where she lived. After pulling her hair, he pushed the woman to the floor as she shouted for help from neighbours. He continued the assault in the presence of children stamping on her head at least six times.

Boon then left the scene after taking the victim’s watch and £20. He returned shortly after and in an effort to get back inside the flat caused damage to a front door. When police attended Boon violently shoved a female officer causing her to almost fall down a flight of stairs. He also elbowed her head. He then kicked, punched and bit a male colleague, before being successfully restrained and arrested. 

At Woolwich Crown Court, Boon pleaded guilty to charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two counts of assault of an emergency worker. He further admitted charges of criminal damage and possessing cannabis. The court heard Boon, previously from Kemsley, had also breached a previous suspended sentence and on Thursday 3 March 2022, he was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment.

PC Sophie Marshall, of the North Kent Vulnerability Investigation Team, told SFM News: "I would like to thank and commend the victim, who has shown immense courage and strength to give evidence, having also endured previous physical and mental abuse from Boon. Thankfully, she was not left with any serious long-term injuries, however Boon’s actions will no doubt leave profound psychological scars and have also caused a huge amount of distress to her children. The victim’s continued support in this case as well as her children’s bravery should be recognised and acknowledged and provide other victims of assault the courage to support a police investigation. Domestic violence is a priority for Kent Police and nobody should ever feel they have nowhere to turn. I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation or relationship to report it to someone and get help. There is a range of support and information available, just phone us or ask a trusted friend or relative to do it. Nobody should ever feel they don’t have the option to walk away or get help."

'Man With Nunchucks' Fight In Town

'Man With Nunchucks' Fight In Town

Three people were arrested on Saturday (12th March) night following the report of a fight in Sittingbourne involving the use of weapons, by the Kent Police Tactical Operations unit.

At 9:42pm TacOps officers posted a message on social media saying they had been called to a fracas, accompanied by the Dog Unit and police from the Swale unit. After their arrival, three people allegedly involved in the fighting were arrested for affray, an offence defined as a group fighting in a public place that disturbs the peace and can also include threats of violence from one group of people to another.

In their post on Twitter, Kent Police said that one of the arrested people had gone to the scene of the fighting kitted out in a stab vest and carrying 'nunchucks', a marital arts weapon comprising two sticks connected by a short metal chain, with officers adding the alleged offender "was no Jackie Chan".

According to witnesses there were no reports of any serious injuries and the presence of the police and dog unit appeared to have brought the situation under control within minutes of attendance.

Sittingbourne Assistance Off To Ukraine

Sittingbourne Assistance Off To Ukraine

The 'Sittingbourne Supporters Of Ukraine' held their two collection events yesterday (Saturday 12th March) at St Peter's Primary School (9am - 3pm) and Iwade Village Hall 10am-2pm.

Thousands of items were donated and dispatched later that day (via Croydon) directly to people in need of assistance in Eastern Europe fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Find out more about the local volunteer effort on the 'Sittingbourne Supporters Of Ukraine' Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/378705797002538.

Well done to all the volunteers who gave up their time to get these essential items out to the people in immediate need - a fantastic effort that shows that Sittingbourne is a caring community!


Council Leader Calls For Action On A249 Litter

Council Leader Calls For Action On A249 Litter

The Leader of Swale Council, Cllr Roger Truelove, has written to Highways England calling for urgent action to clear up the extensive litter along the A249 between Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

Drawing particular attention to the stretch between Grovehurst and Bobbing, Cllr Truelove points out that Highways England are responsible for this road and despite discussions and assurances, the situation remains unacceptable.

Cllr Roger Truelove told SFM News: “I know that litter is everywhere along the side of main roads but the situation here is awful. We’re encouraging people to come to Swale, especially to the Isle Of Sheppey in the summer, and this massive amount of litter impacts on our prospects of doing that. We clear up litter and empty the litter bins in the lay-bys on the A249 on their behalf, but we don’t have the ability to clear away the excessive amount of rubbish and plastic carrier bags along the side of the road and in the adjoining trees. We hope this letter will prompt the litter to be cleared away and we’re looking forward to improvements in the near future.”

We will let you know the latest on this story when available.

Suspect Detained After Attempted Pharmacy Burglary

Suspect Detained After Attempted Pharmacy Burglary

A suspected burglar has appeared at court following an attempted break-in at a pharmacy in Milton Regis.

At around 10.15pm on Monday (7th March), Kent Police received a report that a window had been damaged at the business on Milton Regis High Street. Officers went to the scene and then started a search of the area. At around 11.35pm, a patrol saw a suspicious vehicle and requested the driver to stop.

It is alleged the car did not stop and, following a pursuit, it came to a halt in Basser Hill, Lower Halstow, where the driver was arrested.

George Bignall, aged 42 and of Middletune Avenue, was later charged with attempted burglary, dangerous driving, failing to stop when required by a police officer, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence, driving without insurance and failing to provide a specimen of blood for a test.

Mr Bignall appeared before Medway Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Wednesday 9th March) where he was remanded to a hearing at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday 7th April.

Council Issue Cross Party Statement On Ukraine

Council Issue Cross Party Statement On Ukraine

A Statement has been issued today on behalf of Swale Borough Council's group leaders:

Cllr Roger Truelove – Labour
Cllr Mike Baldock – Swale Independents Alliance
Cllr Alan Horton – Conservative
Cllr Ben Martin – Liberal Democrat
Cllr Monique Bonney – Independent
Cllr Tim Valentine - Green

“Like most people, we have watched the war unfolding in Ukraine with horror and disbelief. It is heart-breaking to see footage of the destruction being wrought, with families huddling in underground stations and car parks, as air raid sirens sound across the towns and cities. Just a week ago, these people were going about their lives as normal – working, studying and playing like millions of others in a free and democratic society. Now they are trying to shelter themselves and their loved ones from bombs and gunfire, or they are taking up arms to fight and defend their democracy".

“All groups at Swale Council utterly condemn this attack by Putin, which we know is not supported by all Russians. This isn’t just an unwarranted attack on a neighbour, it is an attack on the core democratic principle that people should be free to decide their own future. We know there are families in Swale with links to Ukraine, and we can only imagine the anguish and fear they are going through. We stand with them, and all those affected in Ukraine. The local community has once again responded to the call for support, and we will be doing what we can to help them in their efforts. We will also be flying the Ukrainian flag at Swale House in solidarity with our friends in Ukraine, and we hope the resolve and bravery of the Ukrainian people is swiftly rewarded with peace.“

Teenage Boy Jailed After Girl Stabbed 60 Times

Teenage boy jailed after girl stabbed 60 times

A brutal, pre-planned and unprovoked assault which saw a teenage girl stabbed 60 times in Sittingbourne has led to a judge imposing a discretionary life sentence on a teenage boy.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, assaulted the victim in July 2021 and left her with numerous life-threatening injuries. 

Following an investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, he admitted attempted murder and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court earlier today (Friday 4th March).

He will serve a national tariff of 10 years and, should he be released from prison, he will be the subject of a whole life licence.

The victim of the case, a teenage girl, was found seriously injured in a field off Highsted Road, near the junction with Swanstree Avenue, by a dog walker at around 7.30am on Tuesday 22 July 2021.

She is likely to have been laying seriously injured in the spot for at least seven hours.

Kent Police officers were immediately deployed to the scene and were joined by crews from South East Coast Ambulance Service and Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance, who airlifted the victim to a London hospital.

At hospital, she was found to have 60 stab wounds across her body. A total of 99 injuries were recorded by a pathologist who reviewed the case. 

Numerous people who knew the offender, and the victim, identified him as a possible suspect and officers detained him later that day.

A review of his phone led to detectives uncovering numerous deleted text messages which had been shared between the pair on the evening of the offence. Other messages saved on the phone showed he had a desire to stab the victim.

Immediately after the offence, he also carried out internet searches to try and learn how the police investigate murders.

A review of privately held CCTV, which was provided from numerous properties, captured the teenage boy walking to meet the victim late on 21 July. Most of the footage showed a silhouetted figure walking in the distance but, from it, officers were able to track his movements to and from the scene.

They were also able to establish that the pair met at around 11pm on Monday 21st July, with the girl last seen on camera at around 12.10am on Tuesday 22nd July.

With all the evidence in hand, Kent Police was granted authority to charge the offender the next day and he has been held on remand since.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber, the senior investigating officer for the case, told SFM News: "The brutality inflicted on the victim of this case was abhorrent and managing this investigation has been exceptionally harrowing. It is worrying that someone so young could have coldly calculated carrying out this sickening attack. Throughout the course of our enquiries, providing the victim with the best possible support was our absolute priority. She has demonstrated exceptional bravery throughout and her fighting spirit is shown by the physical recovery she has made. Despite being presented with a horrific case, the relentless professionalism of my officers meant we were able to unravel the crime, and detain the offender, within several hours".

He went on to add: "The officers who first responded to the call for help also reacted with exemplary professionalism, despite being presented with a dire set of circumstances. Their actions ultimately led to the victim surviving this horrific attack. I am pleased to see that this teenage boy has now been held to account. He presents a clear danger to the public and I sincerely hope that the support available to him in prison gets to the root cause of his dangerousness and prevents him from committing any further harm.’

KCC Bus Funding Reduction Goes To Consultation

KCC Bus Funding Reduction Goes To Consultation

Kent County Council (KCC) are proposing to make savings by reducing the money they spend on providing some bus services that private bus companies cannot afford to run, and which are no longer cost effective.

KCC say that they currently spend about £6m per year to contract services which are not profitable for bus companies but which the Council thinks are important. These are often services running in more rural areas, in the evenings and at weekends and includes the Kent Karrier (Dial-a-Ride) services. They say that they "have worked hard to protect this funding, but the financial pressures placed on our (KCC’s) budget mean that we are facing an intensely challenging period ahead, where tough decisions will need to be taken. The impact of this does unfortunately mean that the Council is having to consider savings across a whole range of services".

To meet the financial challenge being posed by this year’s budget, KCC’s Public Transport team have been asked to reduce planned spending on this funding by £2.2m and to achieve this reduction they would need to end 48 contracts with a total value of £3m, which would affect around 55 supported bus services across the county, from the summer of this year (2022).

Local routes, that could be affected here in Swale, include the 332 (Stockbury/Sittingbourne Schools), the 360 (Leysdown/Eastchurch/Minster/Sheerness), the Faversham/Teynham rural services 662, 664 and 666 and the Sittingbourne rural services 8, 9, 343, 344. 345 along with the Swale Kent Karrier services.

The KCC have issued a consultation document, which provides more information and details on the proposed changes to services, timetables for the journeys that are affected and a full list of all subsidised services via their website at: https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/bus-funding-reductions and are asking for residents views up until Wednesday 20th April.

It's believed that the responses to the consultation will be analysed and presented in a consultation report that will be published and presented to all KCC Members of the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee in May. Following the meeting, the KCC say that they will publish their decision.

This is a story that we will be closely following here at 106.9 SFM, so please listen out for the latest information and/or check this website for any updates.

Council's Levelling Up Consultation Closes

Council's Levelling Up Consultation Closes

The consultation on plans to try to unlock £20 million of funding for Sheerness has now closed.

Swale Borough Council say that they have received 324 responses from the public on plans that will become a bid to the government’s Levelling Up fund.

More than 75 per cent supporting the council’s plans to better connect the town centre by building a new indoor swimming pool, improving the leisure centre and health offer, expanding Sheppey College and creating new studio spaces at Master’s House.

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We’re really pleased with the level of engagement we’ve seen from local people during the Levelling Up bid consultation, and we’ll now carefully review all the comments and suggestions. Of the people that responded, 85 per cent supported our proposals to better connect the sea with the high street and town centre, 78 per cent supported the expansion of Sheppey College, 74 per cent supported further investment in Master’s House, and 76 per cent would like to see new leisure facilities at Beachfields. We’ve had suggestions to include soft play inside the new leisure complex and build a tidal pool for open water swimming.

Cllr Bonney then went on to add: “We’ve also received requests to emphasise the area’s history, heritage and natural environment, focus on college courses that are relevant to area and on include arts and culture at Master’s House. If we’re successful, this bid for capital funding from Government could bring much needed investment to the Island. The fund is expected to open in the spring, and we want to be ready with a strong bid that has the backing of the local community.”



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