Local News

Four Men Charged After Disturbance In Sittingbourne

Four Men Charged After Disturbance In Sittingbourne

Four men have been charged following a disturbance in Sittingbourne over the weekend.

Kent Police were called to a report a large group of men had become involved in an altercation in West Street at around 11.35pm on Friday (17th July) evening.

Many of those involved are then reported to have travelled to the nearby train station and four 18-year-old men, all from Chatham, were arrested in connection with the disturbance on the same night.

Devonte Lesley, of Huckleberry Close, Owen Godfrey, of Rover Road, Harry Harrison, of Kingston Crescent, and Taylor Hayes, of Mountbatten Avenue, Chatham, have since been charged with using threatening behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence.   

They have each been released on bail to appear to appear at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on Monday 17th August.

Following a review of CCTV, officers also believe a man was injured as part of the wider disturbance and would like to speak with him so they can check on his wellbeing. Witnesses have reported he speaks with an Eastern European accent.

Investigators also believe there are numerous witnesses yet to provide information which could help identify further suspects.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Kent Police on 01795 419119 quoting 46/123032/20 or, alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers free and anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or using the anonymous online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.

Council Approves Town Centre Car Park Concession

Council Approves Town Centre Car Park Concession

Town centre visitors across the Borough will now get 30 minutes extra on all parking tickets bought at Council run town centre car parks, from Saturday (18th July)

Councillors approved an urgent motion at last night's (Wednesday 15th July) Annual Meeting of Swale Borough Counci (SBC).

It's a temporary measure and will be in place until Wednesday 30th as part of the authority's response to the coronavirus pandemic, utilising a government 'New Burdens' grant to pay for the concession.

It was introduced as rules around spcial distancing mean that more queues are likely with businesses taking longer to serve customers when people pop in to town.

SBC's Leader, Cllr Roger Truelove (Lab), told SFM News: "We are now going to let drivers have an extra half hour in all of our town centre car parks, which will give them longer to look around the shops, visit a cafe and hopefully stay a bit longer. We w2ould have loved to have made it 2 hours but financally we just couldn't afford it. We are currently looking at a £4M shortfall due to Coronavirus".

Motorists still have to pay at least 50p but the 30 minutes will be extended to a full hour.

The council's officers did warn members, prioir to the meeting, that the move would cost the council £96,000 in lost pay and display income and another £13,000 in a lack of fines/enforcement action.

Villagers Told To Close Windows And Doors

Villagers Told To Close Windows And Doors

People living in Iwade are being  advised to close windows and doors as a precaution, due to smoke coming from a fire in Raspberry Hill Lane earlier this morning.

Two fire engines responded to reports of a large out of control bonfire at around 2.15am and crews worked to make the area safe.

One fire engine remains on the scene to maintain a watching brief as it burns itself out under controlled conditions – as a result a smoke plume may been seen in the area.

There are no reported casualties and the fire is being treated as suspicious.

Stay tuned for the latest information.

Motorcyclist Jailed For Fatally Injuring Teenager

Motorcyclist Jailed For Fatally Injuring Teenager

A motorcyclist who fatally injured a teenager has been jailed for five years and three months.

Robert Varrier, 29, of Limehouse Court, Sittingbourne, dangerously drove an off-road motorcycle on a residential street on Thursday 16th April before he colliding with a 17-year-old boy.

The teenager was attending a funeral and walking along Tonge Road, Sittingbourne, when he was hit by the vehicle at around 10.42am. He sustained serious head injuries and was flown to a London hospital where he died 3 days later on 19th April.

During the incident Varrier also seriously injured a 27-year-old man from Sittingbourne. He was taken to a local hospital where he has since recovered.

After the collision Varrier attempted to evade capture and left the scene, however officers arrested him at his home address at around 4:00pm on the day of the incident.

He was charged on 19th April and subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was sentenced to five years and three months in jail when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court early today (Thursday 9th July).

Varrier was also banned from driving for three years which will come into effect when he is released from prison. He was also ordered to take an extended retest.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Lee Neiles, of Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, told SFM News: "Robert Varrier undertook a dangerous and appalling level of driving on a residential street among a large group of pedestrians having absolutely no regard for anyone else's safety. Following the collision his main concern was evading capture and prosecution and he only admitted his guilt several weeks later when he realised the evidence secured and presented was so vast it gave him no choice but to plead guilty. This case has highlighted the devastation of driving dangerously on our roads, in particular performing stunts on off-road motorcycles. Not only has the driver received a prison sentence, he has to live with the fact that he has caused someone's death for the rest of his life."

Police Search Warrants Uncover Large Sum Of Cash

Police Search Warrants Uncover Large Sum Of Cash

Two people have been arrested and more than £30,000 in cash has been seized following the search of a number of properties in Spade Lane in Hartlip.

Kent Police detectives, investigating the theft of vehicles across the county, carried out the pre-planned searched warrants on Tuesday (7th July) morning at around 7:00am.

Officers seized the cash and arrested two men aged 42 and 46 on suspicion of conspiracy to steal. They both remain in police custody whilst enquiries continue.

A suspected stolen motorhome and van were also seized by police.

Since January 2020 Kent Police has received multiple reports of stolen cars, vans and caravans taken from towns including Dover, Canterbury, Folkestone, Faversham, Gillingham and Maidstone with a value totalling more than £50,000.

Police Appeal After Reported Assault Of A Woman

Police Appeal After Reported Assault Of A Woman

Witnesses are sought by officers investigating reports of concern for a woman in Sittingbourne.

On Saturday (4th July) Kent Police were called after a group of people were seen in Ridham Avenue, Sittingbourne, where they appeared to be arguing.

Two men are then believed to have assaulted a woman at around 4.12pm before leaving in a black Mazda with a silver trimming. It is believed the woman also left the scene with the men.

Both men were described as white and in their early 30s with short hair. They were tanned and both were wearing blue jeans without tops.

One of the men, who is believed to be a passenger, was also described as having a slim build with broad shoulders and short, dark hair.

The woman was described as white, aged between 20 and 30 and around 5ft 2ins with a slim build. Her hair was dark and worn up in a ponytail. She was also tanned and was believed to be wearing a short skirt and top or a dress which was black or dark in colour.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Samantha Stuart told SFM News: "This is a concerning report and we are keen to talk to those involved to ascertain the details surrounding the circumstances of this incident. We have carried out a number of enquiries and are now encouraging anyone with information to get in touch."

Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police appeal line for Swale on 01795 419119 quoting crime reference 46/114915/20.

Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, free and anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111, or by using the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Police Appeal Following Serious Collision

Police Appeal Following Serious Collision

Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit are appealing for witness to a collision in Sittingbourne.

Kent Police were called at 6.40pm on Saturday (20th June) to a report of a collision between a blue Volkswagen Golf and a cyclist on the A2 London Road near the junction with Hempstead Lane.

Officers attended along with the South East Coast Ambulance Service and the Air Ambulance for Kent, Surrey and Sussex and a 62-year-old man from Sittingbourne was taken to a London hospital by road. He remains in a serious but stable condition.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Kent Police's Serious Collison Investigation Unit on 01622 798 538 or they can email: sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk quoting reference LB/55/20.

Major Gas Leak Closes A2 At Newington

Major Gas Leak Closes A2 At Newington

Picture: Richard Palmer

Kent Police have had to closed the A2 at Newington due to a 'major' gas leak.

The road closure comes just a day after residents received a letter saying that months of roadworks along that stretch of road were finally finished and that the area would be 'getting back to normal'.

London Road is currently CLOSED between Playstool Road and Bull Lane, causing lengthy tailbacks on to Keycol Hill (coming from Sittingbourne) and back to Hartlip (coming from the Medway towns). 

Cllr Richard Palmer, who represents Harlip, Newington and Upchurch on Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: "This is really frustrating and causing chaos around the village in the country lanes. SGN Engineers had been working on this stretch of road with a contraflow for weeks and were hoping to complete on Sunday 21st June, ten weeks ahead of schedule. It is obviously an emergency and unplanned as police are manning the barriers."

SGN engineers, wearing masks, are still on the scene. The recent works were supposed to be the final part of the massive £1.8 million scheme to renew nearly 3 miles of aging gas main pipes, with contractors  even working throughout the recent coronavirus lockdown to keep the project on time.

Appeal Launched Following Serious M2 Crash

Appeal Launched Following Serious M2 Crash

Kent Police collision investigators are appealing for information after a one-vehicle collision on the M2 which left the driver with serious injuries.

The accident happened at 7.42pm last night (Saturday 7th June) when a white Citroen C1 left the carriageway during heavy rain, striking a tree on the embankment on the London-bound carriageway between junctions 6 and 5 near Faversham.

The driver was taken to a London hospital where she remains in a critical but stable condition with life-threatening injuries.

Officers from the Kent Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit are appealing for information and dashcam footage of the incident. Any witnesses are being urged to contact them on 01622 798539, quoting reference JW/49/20 or, alternatively you can emai: sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk.

Sittingbourne And Borden Village FC's Forge Link

Sittingbourne And Borden Village FC's Forge Link

Sittingbourne FC and Borden Village FC have announced a formal link between the two clubs going forward.

The two club committees say they have been discussing the tie up for sometime and following changes at Borden Village felt that the time was now right to join forces. The tie up has begun with Sittingbourne FC helping Borden finalise a strong management team that will now include names familiar to stalwart Brickies fans.

The Borden committee released this statement to SFM News: "We at Borden are excited to bring in our new manager Kevin Brown". Kevin, 45, brings a wealth of experience to Borden, having played for Sittingbourne, Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend, Worthing, Sheppey Utd, Greenwich Boro and Tunbridge Wells over a 25 year non league playing career. He moved in to coaching after retiring, at Ashford u23, but is now looking to make the step up In to management.

Joining him as no 2 /coach will be Simon Beard . Simon himself had a distinguished non league playing career starting at West Ham Utd as an apprentice before playing top level non league with Sittingbourne, Dover, and Hastings Utd .Simon is also a UEFA B licence coach and is academy coach at Rondos.

The Borden Commitee went on to say: "These are exciting times for the club which will include a link up with Sittingbourne FC which will benefit both clubs." There was already a link between the two clubs through committee members of both clubs, Roger Pudner (who is also the groundsman for both clubs), and Ian Jackson.

Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn will have an overseeing role over teams of both clubs and for Sittingbourne the interchange of players that this link up makes possible will prove invaluable. These are exciting times for Sittingbourne Football coming out of the country's COVID-19 Lockdown.

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