Local News

Flood Alert For Swale And Coastal Areas

Flood Alert For Swale And Coastal Areas

This Flood Alert has been issued by the Environmant Agency due to the high tide expected to affect coastal and tidal locations this afternoon (Monday 21st February).

The Agency say that flooding is possible two hours either side of high tide, between 2pm and 6pm today, with strong winds and unsettled weather causing higher water levels than normal. Flooding will affect lower lying locations nearest the coast throughout this area, particularly around Faversham Creek, Conyer and low-lying parts of Seasalter.

The unsettled weather is likely to continue over the coming days, though tides are expected to begin reducing from this evening.

Please be careful in areas around the coast during this period of concern and avoid contact with flood waters present.

They say that they "will continue to monitor this situation, and have staff prepared to respond if needed".

For those who need it, the total water level for Sheerness is forecast to be 3.75m AOD at 15:45pm today (Monday, 21/02/2022). The wind will be a North Westerly Force 6.

Man Charged Following Railway Station Assault

Man Charged Following Railway Station Assault

A suspect has been charged with multiple offences following an incident in which two people were assaulted at the railway station.

Kent Police officers arrested a man in Sittingbourne High Street on Tuesday (15th February) following a report that a person had spat at two people in the station between 7pm and 7.20pm.

As they attempted to arrest the man he is reported to have ran in the opposite direction from officers before he was apprehended. He was then alleged to have tried to headbutt one of the arresting officers.

During a search of the man 12 wraps of what was suspected to be heroin was found hidden in his clothing. Officers also found him to be in possession of two mobile phones and a quantity of cash.

Joe Tubb, 21, of no fixed address has been charged with assault by beating of an emergency worker, possession with intent to supply heroin and acquiring criminal property.

Mr Tubb appeared before Medway Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thursday 17th February) where he was remanded in custody to appear before Maidstone Crown Court on a date to be determined.

Sheppey's Bathing Water Rated Excellent

Sheppey's Bathing Water Rated Excellent

Swale’s popular beaches have earned top marks again after last year’s monitoring by the Environment Agency.

Minster Leas, Sheerness and Leysdown all achieved the highest rating of Excellent, bringing the beaches one step closer to earning a blue flag in time for summer.

The ratings from the Environment Agency are based on more than 30 monitored measures at over 400 bathing waters in England between May and September every year.

Julian Saunders, cabinet member for environment at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We’re really proud of our beaches. Minster Leas and Sheerness have now held an excellent rating for five years, and Leysdown has been excellent for two years. The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised awards and we have to meet a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria to qualify and achieving this excellent water quality rating gets us one step closer to achieving the coveted blue flag again this summer.”

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy and property at the council, told SFM News: "We’ve worked closely with Southern Water and the Environment Agency to maintain our excellent bathing water quality at our award-winning bathing beaches. We’re part of Southern Water’s bathing water enhancement programme that investigates any possible sources of pollution to create award winning beaches, and we also provide real time information to the beachbuoy scheme which provides alerts on possible sewage releases. We also enforce dog restrictions between May and October and carry out daily beach cleaning."

Speeding Motorist Jailed For Causing Death Of Driver

Speeding Motorist Jailed For Causing Death Of Driver

A speeding motorist, who was using his mobile phone minutes before he caused the death of another driver, has been jailed.

Loui Curtis caused the fatal collision on the Londonbound carriageway of the M2, close to the junction 5 exit, on Monday 3rd August 2020.

The 27-year-old of Hawbeck Road, Gillingham, was driving his black BMW 320D when it collided with the rear of a blue Toyota Yaris at 12.50am. The victim, a 34-year-old man from Rochester, died at the scene.

Serious collision investigators from Kent Police attended the scene and Curtis was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Investigators analysed Curtis’ phone and it was found that he had composed and sent a message just prior to the collision taking place.

He was also found to have been driving at 108mph at the time of the collision. The speed limit was 70mph.

Following his arrest, Curtis was later charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

He admitted the charge yesterday (Thursday 10th February) and was sentenced to three years and two months in jail at Maidstone Crown Court.

Investigating officer PC Darren Chapman, of Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, told SFM News: "Curtis’ dangerous, and reckless behaviour cost the life of an innocent motorist, who was heading home after work. He got behind the wheel that night and drove at a grossly excessive speed, whilst also composing a rather pointless message. The speed he was driving caused the victim’s car to be accelerated by 40mph in just one tenth of a second. Using a mobile phone at the wheel and speeding is inexcusable and puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk as evidenced in this case. His victim’s family have been left devastated and I hope this sentencing offers them some closure."

Previous Mayor Cllr Colin Prescott Passes Away

Previous Mayor Cllr Colin Prescott Passes Away

The previous Mayor of Swale Colin Prescott has died aged 78.

Mr Prescott, who passed away with COVID-19 at The Kent & Canterbury Hospital on Monday (7th February), served his community in many ways during his long 27-year career, starting as ward councillor for East Downs in 1992 through to 2019 and as Mayor for the 2004-05 and 2017-18 civic years. He was also chair of the Planning Committee for several years and was awarded the Honorary Alderman title in 2019.

Cllr Paul Stephen, the current Mayor of Swale, told SFM News: “On behalf of Swale Borough Council, I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of former Councillor and Mayor of Swale, Honorary Alderman Colin Prescott who has sadly passed away. Colin worked hard and enjoyed his first term as Mayor of Swale in 2004 so much that he took the role on again in 2017. During his second term as Mayor, Colin raised more than £17,000 for his chosen charities including Swale Hospital Radio and Parkinson’s Support Sittingbourne and Sheppey. Colin was respected and liked by his peers and performed his duties as Mayor with enthusiasm along with his Mayoress, Mrs Pamela Prescott, carrying out more than 250 engagements in 2017. Colin will be sorely missed by all that knew him.”

Alderman Prescott's funeral will be held at 2pm on Monday 14th March at The Garden Of England Crematorium in Bobbing . Flowers, white carnations and freesias, or donations to Spesis Trust or Diabetes UK are welcome c/o Doves Funeral Directors, 100-102 East Street, Sittingbourne ME10 4RX.

The funeral is being attended by past Mayors from across Kent from his 2 tenures, past Mayors of Swale, current Swale councillors, the current Mayors, The Chairman of KCC , the leader of the conservatives on SBC plus the leader of the council and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent.

Witnesses Sought To Attempted Robbery

Witnesses Sought To Attempted Robbery

Witnesses are being sought to an attempted robbery in Murston.

The incident is reported to have happened in Elm Grove on Thursday 27th January, when the victim was riding an e-scooter at 4.45pm.

He is alleged to have been approached by two children who used racist language directed towards him.

A short time later the children then saw the victim in Woodberry Drive at the junction of Keswick Avenue, where one of them is reported to have attempted to take the scooter.

One of the suspects is described as white, with brown hair and around five feet tall. He had freckles and was wearing glasses. He wore black trousers with a top believed to be black or green in colour.

The second boy is described as having brown hair and was wearing a grey tracksuit.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Charlotte Grant told SFM News: "This was a distressing incident for the victim, and we are looking for witnesses who may have been in the area at the time. In particular we I would like to talk to a member of the public who tried to intervene during the incident. We have carried out CCTV enquiries and have spoken to a number of people but would like to hear from anyone who we have not yet spoken to."

Anybody with any information is asked to call the appeal line on 01795 419 119, quoting crime reference 46/17429/22 or, alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers, FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via the form on their website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-ano... .

Consultation On Plans To Revitalise Town Centre

Consultation On Plans To Revitalise Town Centre

People can now have their say on Swale Borough Council’s plans to regenerate Sittingbourne town centre.

The plans are outlined in a draft supplementary planning document that is now available for public consultation after it was approved by councillors in December.

Following consultation, the document will then become part of the current local plan and will shape how the council considers new development proposals, outlining what developers and landowners need to include in planning applications.

Cllr Mike Baldock, cabinet member for planning at the council, told SFM News: “These exciting new plans to revitalise Sittingbourne town centre will bring much needed life to the area and we want to know what local people think. We plan to develop a leisure quarter, a historic quarter and a community hub, but it’s important that we hear from local people. They know better than anyone what their community needs. Once this draft supplementary planning document has gone through the consultation and approval process, it will sit alongside our current and future local plan. We have important heritage that will need to be considered when developing Sittingbourne town centre and it’s important that we preserve and promote what we have whilst incorporating these plans for the future.”

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We have essential plans to revitalise Sittingbourne town centre, bringing much needed footfall to the high street and providing better links to surrounding areas. We’ve been committed to investing in our town centres and high streets and we want to hear from local people who really know what will benefit the area. We know we need not only leisure and businesses in our town centre but also a better healthcare provision that is easily accessible. We also need a range of housing in our town centre to meet the diverse needs of the population from young to old, including affordable homes. The consultation is now open and will run for six weeks, and I encourage people to take this opportunity to have their say on how we bring life and much need investment to Sittingbourne.”

The consultation is open from today (Monday 7th February) until 5:00pm on Monday 21st March.

The Sittingbourne draft supplementary planning document can be viewed online at www.swale.gov.uk/sittingbourne-spd or in-person at The Forum Shopping Centre, Swallows Leisure Centre and Sittingbourne Library.

Comments can be made on the council website, by email to lpcomments@swale.gov.uk or by post to Planning Policy Team, Swale Borough Council, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne ME10 3HT.

Escaped Prisoner Jailed Following Police Pursuit

Escaped Prisoner Jailed Following Police Pursuit

An escaped prisoner, who led officers on a police pursuit near Sittingbourne, has been jailed.

William Adams was handed a two-year and four-month prison sentence after admitting dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.

He was additionally charged with being unlawfully at large after he absconded from a prison in Sussex on 14 July 2021. He was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday 27 January 2022.

Adams, 22, of no fixed address, failed to stop for officers when he was seen driving a van suspiciously on the A249, near the Stockbury roundabout, on Tuesday 23rd November 2021.

Officers believed he was driving using false number plates and requested him to stop at 11.55pm, however he continued driving and led officers on a 10-minute police pursuit.

During the incident three police cars were damaged by Adams’ van, with one of the cars being knocked off the road where it was in a collision with a tree and caught fire.

Officers brought the van to a controlled stop on the Key Street roundabout and Adams attempted to run from the scene but was apprehended by officers and arrested.

A 20-year-old man from Sittingbourne was also arrested for his alleged involvement in the pursuit on 23rd November. He was later released without charge.

As well as being sentenced Adams was disqualified from driving for four years and eight months.

Investigating officer PC James Ring told SFM News: "Adams refused to stop when requested to do so and instead drove in an erratic and unsafe manner through several residentials streets. During the pursuit two vehicles belonging to members of the public received minor damage and it was only sheer luck that nobody was injured. His sentence is reflective of his criminality and I’m pleased he has been brought to justice".


Swale Asks KCC Councillors To Oppose 'Homeless' Cuts

Swale Asks KCC Councillors To Oppose 'Homeless' Cuts

Swale Borough Council is writing to local Kent County Councillors to ask them to oppose £2.3 million of cuts to homelessness support.

The proposals to stop funding Kent Homeless Connect are part of Kent County Council’s budget proposals being discussed  next Thursday (10th February).

The service was launched by Kent in 2018 to “create a fairer, more accessible and consistent service for vulnerable people” so “homeless people with support needs will now benefit from more flexible, tailored, recovery-focused provisions”.

The service is delivered by the charities Porchlight and Look Ahead and specialises in supporting people who have multiple needs – such as mental health needs, experience of trauma or substance misuse – and who would otherwise struggle to access the housing services they need.

They support vulnerable people who need help to get away from rough sleeping, or to maintain a tenancy. These people have often experienced trauma, are misusing drugs or alcohol, or have mental health needs.

District councils like Swale only found out about the proposals when the draft budget was published in January, despite assurances that any such decisions would be subject to meaningful discussion and consultation.

Cllr Ben Martin, cabinet member for housing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “These cuts came out of the blue and potentially have a significant impact on our own finances. Our own budget setting is already well advanced, and Kent’s lack of consultation – not for the first time – raises the prospect of passing on significant unexpected costs to us. This service supports the most vulnerable people and has proven it can get them back into permanent accommodation much more effectively than the general provision we can offer. These people often need specialist mental health support or help with overcoming drug or alcohol issues".

Ben then went on to add: "Kent Homeless Connect brings both expert support from specialist charities, and the benefits of economies of scale to provide a genuine lifeline to these people. Since the announcement, we have asked numerous times for the detailed impact assessment of the plans, but as far as we know these haven’t been done, which makes us think the true implications of the plans have not been thought through. We do understand that Kent – like all local councils – faces significant budget pressure, but this cut would only pass on more expense to district councils, NHS services and their own social care services. The Government have been crystal clear that they want to end rough sleeping, and this proposal flies in the face of that promise. I have written to our local Kent councillors to ask them to help us avoid what could prove to be a costly decision that leaves some of the most vulnerable people in our communities without the support they need to keep a roof over their head.”

We will keep you up-to-date with any developments on this story.

Shops In Swale Caught Selling Alcohol To Children

Shops In Swale Caught Selling Alcohol To Children

Shops in Swale have been fined and given words of advice after being caught selling alcohol and e-cigarettes to children.

Officers from the town centre teams in Sittingbourne and Sheerness worked with five police cadets on Saturday (29th January).

The volunteers, aged between 14 and 16, visited 11 shops and attempted to buy alcohol and e-cigarettes as part of a proactive operation to safeguard young people.

Three shops in Sittingbourne and two shops in Sheerness refused to sell the goods after asking for identification, however one shop sold a cadet two e-cigarettes, while another shop sold alcohol without checking I.D.

In Sheerness another shop sold two e-cigarettes to one of the cadets whilst a wine shop also failed to ask for identification and sold one of the teenager’s alcohol.

One shop is Sittingbourne nearly carried out the sale but then refused while another shop in Sheerness requested cash after a cadet tried to purchase alcohol.

Officers issued penalty notices to the shops which sold alcohol illegally, while the shops which sold the e-cigarettes were given words of advice.

The findings have also been passed onto Trading Standards who will now carry out their own investigation.

Swale Community Safety Unit Inspector Paul Stoner told SFM News: "We regularly carry out test purchases to ensure that local businesses are operating within the law. Businesses have a responsibility to local communities and those who work and live within the area, and it is disappointing when they do not abide by the rules. The action was not about calling-out businesses but to ensure they all understand they have a responsibility to help safeguard young people and must operate within the law".



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