Local News

Lifeguards Back At Sheerness And Leysdown Beaches

Lifeguards Back At Sheerness And Leysdown Beaches

People visiting Swale’s award-winning beaches this summer are being reminded to stay safe on the coast.

The beaches on the Island remain popular every year, and Swale Borough Council is again partnering with the RNLI to make sure people stay safe at Sheerness and Leysdown beaches.

Lifeguard cover began operating on Leysdown-on-Sea and Sheerness beaches seven days a week, from Saturday 8th July and will be there until Sunday 3rd September, having covered weekends and Bank Holidays since 27th May earlier this year. 

Swale Borough Council has worked with the RNLI for the last 10 years to provide lifeguard cover at local bathing beaches, with incidents remaining low.

In recent years the RNLI has struggled to recruit local lifeguards and have been relying on bringing in people from other areas to cover our beaches. Now, for a range of global reasons, other areas are also struggling to recruit, so the pool of specially trained lifeguards is smaller.

Because of this, the RNLI have taken a decision based on risk assessments to prioritise the busy Leysdown beach, and Sheerness beach where the currents are more likely to catch people unaware. This means the quieter Minster Leas beach will not have a lifeguard presence this year, and despite meeting all of the rest of criteria such as water quality, will be unable to fly the Blue Flag.

Cllr Monique Bonney, committee chair for regeneration and property, told SFM News: “Every summer we welcome thousands of people to the Island to explore and have fun on our beaches and we want to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable visit, so they want to come back again. Having the RNLI lifeguards is a welcome reassurance to people, so we are disappointed we’ve not been able to have enough recruits to provide the usual level of cover. If you know of anybody interested, please let us know".

Cllr Bonney want on to add: "To help mitigate this, we are working to bring in some on shore first aid support – which is a large part of the work the lifeguards carry out – and we are working to remind people that they need to take care when in, on or around the water, regardless of whether there is a lifeguard in sight. There’s lots of information and advice on the RNLI website, and I’d urge everyone to have a look at their float to live advice. We want people to have a great summer on our beaches, and we encourage, where possible, people to visit a lifeguarded beach, know the risks, understand the flags, leave inflatables at home and stay safe.”

Charlie Frame, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor told SFM News: “We’re glad to be back on Sheppey this summer, and hope everyone visiting the coast has a safe and enjoyable time. We advise people to head to a lifeguarded beach, check the weather and tide times before visiting and if they do get into difficulty, or spot someone in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Despite our best efforts, we have struggled to find new recruits to fill all the roles we have, but we’re confident the cover being provided is appropriate for the risk profiles of the Island’s beaches. We did have several local people interested in what is a fantastic summer job, but they either didn’t complete their application or weren’t able to meet the necessary standard for working on open water.”

The charity is continuing to try and recruit lifeguards to cover Minster-on-Sea and as such the lifeguard unit will remain on the beach in case the service can be resumed at some point during the summer. If anyone is interested in lifeguarding they can go to: https://summerjobs.rnli.org/become-a-lifeguard/find-a-job

For more information about Swale’s beaches visit the council's website: www.swale.gov.uk/seafront.

For more information on beach safety in general: https://rnli.org/safety/beach-safety


Four Charged With Aggravated Burglary

Four Charged With Aggravated Burglary

Four people have been charged following a report of an aggravated burglary in Ashford.

Kent Police were called at 11.42pm on Friday (21st July) following the incident at a property in Laurens Van Der Post Way in the town.

Officers attended and a vehicle was stopped by an armed response unit at around 12.23am in Swanstree Avenue here in Sittingbourne in relation to the offence.

Following an investigation by East Kent CID, Ella Steadman, 21, of Bowens Field, Ashford; Jack Grindley, 20, of Riverbank Way, Ashford; Leon Melson, 19, of Tennyson Road, Ashford, and a 17-year-old boy have all be charged with aggravated burglary.

All four are due to appear before Folkestone Magistrates' Court on Monday (24th July).


Teynham Distraction Burglaries - CCTV Appeal

Teynham Distraction Burglaries - CCTV Appeal

Detectives investigating two reported burglaries in Teynham have released a CCTV image. On Monday 3rd July, a man called at an address in Station Road and advised the resident he was there to check the smoke alarms. He was allowed into the address and, after he left, the occupant found a quantity of cash was missing.

On the same day, a pensioner also living in Station Road, was visited by a man who said he had been sent to check the electrics at the premises. Once the man had left the victim found their purse had been stolen.

Detective Constable Emma Laimbeer, of the Kent Crime Squad, told SFM News: ‘We have been investigating these incidents, including the examination of CCTV footage in the area, and are now able to release an image of a man we would like to identify. We are urging anybody who recognises the person or has information that may assist our enquiries to contact our appeal line.’

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Kent Police on 01795 419 119, quoting crime reference 46/118895/23. Alternatively they can also call Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete an online form on their website: www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Witnesses Sought To Serious Assault

Witnesses Sought To Serious Assault

Kent Police officers are appealing for witnesses to a serious assault in Milton Regis last week.

At around 12.15pm on Thursday (20th July) Kent Police were called to a report of an assault in North Street. Officers attended and a man was taken to hospital with an injury consistent with a stab wound. He has since been discharged.

Two local men in their 20’s have since been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent. They remain in custody while enquiries are ongoing.

Anyone who saw the incident or has any information including CCTV, dashcam or mobile phone footage is asked to call the Kent Police appeals on 01795 419 119, quoting 46/129574/23.

Alternatively they can also call Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete an online form on their website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/pre-form .


Local Country Parks Celebrate Green Flag Success

Local Country Parks Celebrate Green Flag Success

Swale Borough Council is celebrating after receiving a Green Flag Award for Milton Creek Country Park and Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park.

The news that Milton Creek and Oare have achieved the accreditation - the international quality mark for parks and green spaces - "is testament to the hard work and dedication of the team that care for the green space so that everyone can enjoy it" says the council.

Cllr Rich Lehmann, chair of the environment committee, told SFM News: "We’re delighted that Milton Creek Country Park in Sittingbourne and Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park in Faversham have both been awarded Green Flag Awards again this year. This is the second consecutive year the Milton Creek Country Park has received the award, and the 18th year in a row for the Gunpowder Works. We work hard alongside teams of dedicated volunteers to create parks and green spaces that meet the high standards expected of Green Flag parks. We are lucky to have such a fantastic variety of coastline, countryside, and green spaces across Swale for residents and visitors to explore. We know how much these spaces matter to people, so it’s pleasing to see recognition of all the hard work that is put in to maintaining them.”

Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag award scheme manager Paul Todd MBE told SFM News: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved at Milton Creek Country Park and Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park in achieving the Green Flag Award. These are vital green spaces for the community in Swale, bringing people together and providing opportunities to lead healthy lifestyles. The staff and volunteers do so much to ensure that it maintains the high standards of the Green Flag Award and everyone involved should feel extremely proud of their achievement.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

A full list of Green Flag 2023-24 Award-winning parks and green spaces is available here.


CCTV Released Following High Street Assault

CCTV Released Following High Street Assault

CCTV images have been released by Swale officers after a man was assaulted in Sittingbourne High Street.

The victim was with a woman when two people are reported to have made derogatory remarks about her.

He spoke to the suspects before they assaulted him by punching him in the face multiple times. The 71-year-old man then fell to the floor and the offenders fled the scene.

The incident happened at around 5pm on Saturday 17th June and since then officers have carried out several enquiries, including reviewing CCTV and are now in a position to release images of two people they would like to talk to.

Anyone who recognises those photographed are asked to call the Kent Police appeals line on 01795 419 119 quoting 46/117838/23 or, alternatively, thay can call Kent Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by using the online form on their website.

** UPDATE FRI 14/07/23 **

Police have identified the two people in the previously released CCTV picture.

Police have also confirmed that no arrests have been made as yet but enquiries remain ongoing.

New CCTV Images Released Following Bar Assault

New CCTV Images Released Following Bar Assault

New CCTV images have been released by local officers investigating an assault in Sittingbourne.

The incident happened at around 1.25am on Saturday 24th June inside Lang’s Bar and Cocktail Lounge in St Michael’s Road.

While inside the bar, the victim was reported to have been assaulted after a man, not known to him, hit him over the head with a glass.

The offender then continued to assault the victim by pushing him to the floor where he was punched and kicked. The incident resulted in the victim sustaining deep lacerations to his face. 

During the incident a woman also assaulted the victim by kicking him while he was on the floor.

Officers have previously issued CCTV images of a man they would like to talk to, and are now in a position to issue further images of the same person.

A CCTV image of a woman is also being released.

Anyone who recognises the man or woman in the CCTV should call 01795 419 119 quoting reference 46/111751/23 or, alternatively they can call Kent Crimestoppers, FREE and anonimously, on 0800 555 111.


Arrest Following Suspicious Fire In Faversham

Arrest Following Suspicious Fire In Faversham

A man has been arrested as officers continue to investigate a fire in Faversham.

Kent Police were called in to assist Kent Fire and Rescue Service at the scene of a fire in St Mary's Road at aroung 4.05am yesterday (Thursday 6th July).

The fire was extinguished and two people were taken to a local hospital with injuries.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown and remains under investigation, however it is being treated as suspicious.

A man in his 50s has been arrested in relation to the incident and remains in custody while enquiries continue.

Officers are appealing to anyone who has any information, or CCTV, doorbell or dashcam footage from the area, to call 01634 792209, quoting reference 06-0165 or, alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete their online form.

Grant Scheme Launched By SBC To Boost Town Centres

Grant Scheme Launched By SBC To Boost Town Centres

Swale Borough Council is making grants of up to £5,000 available to support activities to improve local town centres.

The council has set up the Town Centre Action Grant (TAG) scheme to help boost the borough’s principal towns of Faversham, Sittingbourne and Sheerness, as well as the smaller historic centres of Milton Regis and Queenborough.

The council wants interested groups to come together to develop co-ordinated action plans and projects for the towns, with grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to schemes that focus on:

  • local arts, cultural, heritage and creative events and activities in and around the town centres that create interest and promote footfall and usage
  • promotional campaigns to encourage visits and people to explore the town centres, increasing interest and footfall
  • projects that enhance the existing cultural, historic & heritage offer, helping re-enforce a sense of place and encourage visitors.


The deadline for applications to the first round of funding will be Wednesday 26 July 2023.

Cllr Monique Bonney, chair of the council’s regeneration and property committee, told SFM News: “We want to help support our town centres by providing groups with financial support for new plans for projects. The grant has been set up to help kickstart new projects that will improve footfall and increase visitor numbers. We’re hoping to receive applications from a range of different stakeholders in town centres who have new ideas that will directly benefit the area for local people, businesses and visitors.”

To find out more about the scheme, and to apply for a grant, visit www.swale.gov.uk/tag.

The Town Centre Action Grants scheme has received funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.


Couple Sentenced Following Fatal Collision

Couple Sentenced Following Fatal Collision

A couple from Sittingbourne have been sentenced after they claimed their car had been stolen before it was involved in a fatal collision with a motorcyclist.

Stuart Powell was behind the wheel of his wife’s car on Wednesday 12th May 2021 when he pulled out in front of a motorcyclist on the B2005 Swale Way inKemsley, near the Milton Creek Fishing Lake.

Powell, aged 34 and of Miller Close in Kemsley, only held a provisional driving licence and was found to have been using his mobile phone at the time of the collision.

The motorcyclist was left fatally injured while his pillion passenger also suffered serious injuries.

Two passing Police Community Support Officers witnessed the aftermath of the collision and told Stuart to remain at the scene, however instead Powell left the area and contacted his partner, Carly Powell.

Shortly after the call ended, Carly, 36, also of Miller Close in Kemsley, falsely reported that her car had been stolen.

The following day Powell handed himself into a local police station and admitted he had been involved in the collision but continued to lie and claimed he had lost his mobile phone.

This was later found by officers and it was discovered he had conducted a factory reset just a few days prior to it being found. It was later confirmed that the phone had been used at the time of the collision.

Powell was later charged with causing death by dangerous driving. He was also charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving and two counts of perverting the course of justice. He admitted all the charges.

Carly Powell admitted to the charge of perverting the course of justice.

At Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday (5th July) Stuart Powell was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail, of which he will have to serve half.

He will also remain disqualified from driving for seven years once he is released from prison.

Carly Powell was handed an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable David Holmes of Kent Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit, told SFM News outside the court: "Stuart Powell should never have been behind the wheel, let alone driving and using his mobile phone. His actions caused a man to lose his life leaving his family to mourn the loss of their son, brother and uncle. Collectively the Powells lied to Kent Police and sought to distance themselves from any involvement or blame, claiming the car had been stolen, when in fact Stuart was wholly responsible. Nothing can bring back the victim, but I hope this sentence can offer some justice and help the family to gain some closure."


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