Local News

Paper Mill Hosts Fire Crew "Training Exercise"

Paper Mill Hosts Fire Crew "Training Exercise"

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) took part in an exercise on Thursday (11th December) to test firefighters and the mill staff's response to a chemical incident at Kemsley Paper Mill - owned by DS Smith - the second biggest recycled fibre-based operation in Europe.

The staged exercise involved a reversing heavy goods vehicle hitting a member of staff, trapping him beneath the articulated trailer. The drama intensified after a chemical chlorine container dislodged during the collision, allowing the chemicals to leak.

Four fire engines from Sittingbourne, Sheppey, Faversham and Medway, along with KFRS's Incident Support Unit and around 20 firefighters were sent to the plant in Kemsley, Sittingbourne at 10.45am. The decontamination team wore chemical protection suits and used specialist chemical detection equipment to rehearse how they would make the scene safe by decontaminating the area and safely disposing of the spilt chemicals.

The exercise lasted for two hours and saw fire crews using air bags to release the casualty from beneath the trailer. Five other 'mock' casualties were lead or carried to safety suffering from nausea and breathing difficulties.

KFRS Station Manager, Stuart Beadle, who was responsible for the exercise told SFM News: "To make it as realistic as possible, crews and staff were unaware of what they would face, as the exact nature of the incident was only revealed on the day. This meant they had to react as they would to a real-life situation allowing us to test our operational plans and Kemsley Paper Mill to test their emergency and incident control procedures, which included a full site evacuation."

Mr Jonathan Hunt, Site Facilities Engineer at Kemsley Paper Mill, told SFM News: "We have an active firefighting and emergency response team on site and our priorities are to ensure the safety of our staff, contractors and the general public. Our team are well practised in their strategic management of incidents but it's a massive benefit for us to work closely with KFRS sharing knowledge and putting our well-rehearsed emergency procedures into place."

Stuart concluded by saying that the: "KFRS is called to a wide range of incidents - not just house fires and car crashes - and this exercise has given us the opportunity to prepare for a more unusual scenario. Working in partnership with the mill ensures we are able to set effective communication channels to resolve incidents quickly and smoothly should the worst ever happen. We're grateful to Kemsley Paper Mill for facilitating this training event."

Crackdown On Swale Shoplifters

Crackdown On Swale Shoplifters

Shoplifters in Swale have been arrested as part of a crackdown in the run up to Christmas.

Officers have been focusing their foot patrols in Sittingbourne town centre to locate and deter offenders and as well as targeting shoplifters, the foot patrols are also being carried out to help deter people from committing offences of criminal damage, violence and theft from vehicles.

Chief Inspector Tony Henley, District Commander for Swale, told SFM's Roger Wrapson: "Since mid-November local policing officers have been targeting their patrols in town centres, which are often busier in the run up to Christmas. The foot patrols allow police to provide additional support to those working in the town centres and reassurance to people out enjoying the festive season. The targeted work has already seen a number of shoplifters being arrested. One offender was sent to prison for stealing razors - a warning to opportunist thieves of the consequences of breaking the law. This time of year often sees more people making the most of pubs, bars and clubs in the town centres. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and makes people more likely to do things out of the ordinary. The targeted work is also being carried out to help deter people from getting into violent situations and committing a crime".

Chief Inspector Henley added: "we want people to have fun, but also to get home safely. Avoid spending a night in a cell, or even at hospital, and drink responsibly."

Results so far:

• A man from Sittingbourne has been given a suspended prison sentenced after stealing a bottle of alcohol. Glenn David Butler, aged 44, of Woodberry Drive, Murston, was charged with shoplifting and obstructing/resisting an officer in the execution of their duty after a bottle of vodka worth £13.99 was stolen from a supermarket in Sittingbourne on Monday 1st December. Butler appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 2nd December where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in prison, suspended for 12 months.
• A woman is due to appear at court following shoplifting offences in Sittingbourne. Danielle Goskie, aged 33, of Vicarage Road in Milton Regis, has been charged with four counts of shoplifting and one count of attempted shoplifting. She is due to appear at Maidstone Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (16th December).
• On 22 November Danhi Smith, aged 20, previously of Murston Road, was charged with shoplifting after an incident in Sittingbourne on Thursday 20th November. He appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court on Saturday 22nd November where he was remanded to appear at court at a later date.
• On 25 November, a 20-year-old man from Sittingbourne was cautioned after stealing headphones from a supermarket on Bridge Road in Sheerness, on Wednesday 19th November. 

If you own a business you can get advice on how you can help protect your business from criminals by visiting www.kent.police.uk and select ‘Advice and licences' and then ‘Businesses'.

Swale Safe is a business crime reduction partnership which links town centre businesses, Swale Borough Council and Kent Police via radio, allowing them to share information on criminal activity. For more information please visit www.swalesafe.co.uk.


Organised Crime Gang Jailed For Digger Thefts

Organised Crime Gang Jailed For Digger Thefts

Members of an organised local crime gang, who stole diggers and trailers worth a total of more than £185,000, have been jailed.

Matthew Butler, 36, of South Street Road, in Stockbury; Nigel Black, 52, of Warden Road in Eastchurch and Ashley Austin, 24, of Essex Road in Maidstone, were all involved in the thefts from a storage compound in Bircholt Road, Maidstone, in December 2012.

Butler pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to steal but was convicted following a trial last month. He was jailed for four years when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (7th November).

Black pleaded guilty to theft and was jailed for three years, while Austin admitted the same charge and received a custodial sentence of two years and seven months.

A fourth man - Grant Hodgson, 34, of Warden Road in Eastchurch - has also pleaded guilty to theft and will be sentenced later this month.

The court heard how 12 Cat mini-diggers worth about £14,000 each and 12 trailers worth £1,600 each were discovered stolen by staff who arrived at the storage compound on Monday 10th December 2012. The chains locking the front gates had also been cut and four vehicle registration plates stolen. In the early hours of Wednesday 12 December, electronic trackers installed on the machines led Kent Police to a lorry in Lodge Road, Staplehurst, which contained the diggers.

Black, who was standing next to the vehicle, and Austin, who was lying beneath it, were both arrested at the scene. Hodgson was also present but attempted to run away from officers before jumping off a 10ft-high wall - breaking his back as a result. Despite his injuries Hodgson attempted to escape on a train from Staplehurst railway station but was arrested on board and taken to hospital.

The lorry, on which the diggers were found, was traced back to Butler - a known associate of the three co-defendants - who had purchased the vehicle a month before from a dealership in Suffolk but had registered it in somebody else's name.

Investigating Officer, Detective Constable Becky Saunders, told SFM News: "This was a complex case that took two years to piece together so I am very pleased that those responsible are now behind bars. These four men are repeat offenders specialising in vehicle crime so it will come as a relief to law-abiding members of the public that they are now off our streets."


Sittingbourne Commemorates World War I Hero

Sittingbourne Commemorates World War I Hero

Pictured: Susan Bavin, David Bavin and the Commemoratibe VC Stone

Following on from today's Remembrance Sunday Service, at the War Memorial on Central Avenue in Sittingbourne, a special service was held to mark a VC stone dedicated to local war hero Lt Donald Dean VC.

The service was broadcast on 106.9 SFM and included readings from Rev'd Jean Burrows and Pat Tatchell and a personal reflection from David Bavin, Donald Dean's grandson. The service was also attended by Mr Dean's daughter, Susan Bavin, along with other dignitaries including the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Richard Oldfield, the Mayor Of Swale, Cllr George Bobbin and Cllr Andrew Bowles, Leader of Swale Borough Council.

Donald Dean was awarded the Victoria Cross, aged just 21, in September 1918 for his bravery during one of the final battles of the harsh conflict. Although born in 1897 in Surrey Mr Dean had strong links with the Sittingbourne area and his relatives were part of the successful local brick-making business Smeed Dean. When war broke out he was living with his parents in Tunstall.  

An inscribed paving stone (pictured above) in memory of him, was unveiled at 2.50pm as part of the service.


Police Appeal After Weekend M2 Collision

Police Appeal After Weekend M2 Collision

Kent Police are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle collision on the M2, near Sittingbourne, in which six people were reportedly injured.

A silver Nissan Estate, carrying eight people including the driver, overturned on the London-bound carriageway of the M2, between junction 5 and the Medway Services, at 9.45pm on Saturday 11th October. The carriageway was closed while emergency services dealt with the incident and debris was cleared from the road. Lane 2 was reopened at 11.25pm and the carriageway was fully reopened at around midnight.

Six people were taken to hospital, with one of them thought to have suffered a serious injury.

Witnesses to the incident, or anyone who saw the vehicle prior to the incident, are asked to contact PC Chris Godden at Kent Police by calling 01622 798571 and quoting reference: 1011-1625.

War Medal Recovered During Police Burglary Campaign

War Medal Recovered During Police Burglary Campaign

Kent Police is asking for the public's help to reunite a war medal with its rightful owner.

Officers recovered the medal, which is suspected to have been stolen, in the Sittingbourne area on Monday (3rd November).

PC Paul Blundell, of Kent Police, told SFM News: "Officers are making enquiries to find out who the war medal belongs to. It is likely the medal has a huge sentimental value to someone across Kent or the south east, and it would be nice to reunite them with it in time for Remembrance Sunday. An image of the medal has also been placed on the ‘Is Iit Yours' section of the Kent Police website. This new section helps reunite victims with suspected stolen property that has been found or seized. I would encourage all victims of burglary and theft to monitor ‘Is it yours' to see if any of their property has been recovered. We regularly seize items that we believe are stolen and we carry out enquiries on our own databases to see if we can identify the true owner. However, this isn't always possible, and I hope that ‘Is it yours' will be successful in returning items to many victims of crime. Kent Police is mid-way through a three-week campaign to raise awareness of burglary and offer crime prevention advice to residents to help them avoid becoming a victim of crime. Teams of officers are targeting offenders of burglary to disrupt their criminal activity and put them before the courts, and to reunite victims with their property."

If you think the war medal belongs to you, or you know who the owner might be, please contact PC Paul Blundell at Kent Police by calling 01795 419224. If you can confirm any unique markings on the medal it can be returned to its rightful owner.

Litter Angels Launch New 'Litter Watch' Initiative

Litter Angels Launch New 'Litter Watch' Initiative

Local charity, Litter Angels, has launched a new initiative on Facebook to get members of the public to report areas of litter and work together to clean up their communities.

The Facebook group, called 'Litter Angels Litter Watch', has been set up as a dedicated place for members of the public to report litter related issues affecting Sittingbourne and Sheppey. Those issues will then be investigated and a team of volunteers will be found to litter pick the area as soon as possible using equipment owned by Litter Angels. A photo from the litter pick and any interesting statistics will be posted to all users afterwards.

Local MP for Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Gordon Henderson and the Chairman of Litter Angels, told SFM News "Litter Angels had a very successful year visiting 20 primary schools during September and October to run anti-litter poster workshops. In addition we had the Litter Angels story published as a paperback book and this has been well received. Members of the Litter Angels team have noticed a number of posts on different Facebook pages and groups about litter related issues, which is why we have decided to launch our own dedicated Facebook group. I hope members of the public will now use the Litter Angels Litter Watch group so that action can be taken to clear it as soon as possible. Together we can make Sittingbourne and Sheppey a clean and tidy place of which we can be proud."

The Facebook group can be found by visiting www.facebook.com/groups/380076075472711. If anyone would like to volunteer to help resolve the litter problems posted, they are asked to message the administrators of the group.


Motorcyclist Dies Following Teynham Accident

Motorcyclist Dies Following Teynham Accident

Kent Police are appealing for witnesses after a fatal collision in Teynham yesterday (Friday 30th October).

At 4:38pm officers were called to Lower Road in Teynham, at the junction with Frognal Lane, to a collision between an Audi A4 and a Suzuki motorcycle.

The motorcyclist, a man aged in his 30s, died at the scene. The driver and passenger of the car were uninjured.

Officers from the Kent Police Serious Collision investigation Unit are now appealing for anyone with any information, or who may have seen either vehicle in the moments prior to the collision, to get in touch with them on 01622 798538, or they can email: sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk.

Dedicated "Halloween" Officers To Patrol Swale

Dedicated "Halloween" Officers To Patrol Swale

Designated police vehicles will be out across Swale in the days leading up to Halloween targeting anti-social behaviour hotspots.

Kent Police are running specialised operations to deter and reduce behaviour likely to harass and alarm members of the public and dedicated patrol cars will be on hand to respond to calls.
Officers will be out in areas that have previously experienced particular problems during the Halloween period to ensure young people behave responsibly. These include town centres, parks and play areas, and officers will be communicating with local businesses and enforcing ongoing dispersal areas to move on groups of people who may be intimidating members of the public.

Swale's District Commander, Chief Inspector Tony Henley, told SFM News: "We want our residents to have fun this Halloween and we don't want to spoil anyone's good time, but it's equally important to remember that our more elderly or vulnerable residents can be left distressed by Halloween pranks carried out by the minority of people. Having dedicated cars around Sittingbourne, Faversham and Sheppey to respond to calls, alongside high visibility patrols, will hopefully reduce Halloween-related issues. In the past, these have included incidents of criminal damage and intimidation. People have also thrown eggs and flour at residents and properties, so we have put in place measures to ensure selling of these items during the Halloween period is closely monitored. Parents are reminded of the importance of supervising their children during Halloween and, where possible, accompany them on trick-or-treating visits. There are posters that can be placed in doors and windows to advise trick-or-treaters not to call at your property and our officers will be out and about to ensure these requests are respected."

For more advice, visit www.kent.police.uk/advice/seasonal_advice/autumn_halloween.html.

Posters advertising for declining trick-or-treating can also be downloaded from this address.

Phone And Pay Car Parking Introduced to Swale

Phone And Pay Car Parking Introduced to Swale

Looking for small change to park your car in Swale could be a thing of the past, thanks to the new Phone and Pay parking scheme launched by Swale Borough Council.

All 31 pay and display car parks owned by the council are encouraging drivers to use the new system with their mobile phones. And not only is it easier than searching for odd coins, once the app is downloaded it is actually quicker than putting cash in the machine and then returning to the car to display the ticket on the windscreen.  Drivers can even pay for their car parking before they leave home which could help motorists in a hurry to make meetings or catch a train for example.

Cllr Mike Cosgrove, from Swale Borough Council, officially launched the scheme in his home town of Faversham this week. He told SFM News: "I am not the most technically qualified person, but even I managed to download the app and could see how superb this system is. The real beauty of it is you pay for the time you need and you don't need to stick tickets on your windscreen as the information is imparted to the wardens on their hand held device within seconds. Although officially launched this week, we have had the system up and running for two weeks and so far over 1,000 motorists have used it successfully. And certainly the drivers I met in Faversham's Central Car Park had nothing but praise for it."

For further details about the scheme you can visit www.phoneandpay.co.uk.


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