Local News

Mum And Son Die In Fatal Sheppey Crossing Collision

Mum And Son Die In Fatal Sheppey Crossing Collision

Kent Police are appealing for witnesses to a road traffic collision on the A249 Sheppey Crossing earlier today.

At 1.18pm this afternoon, officers were notified of a collision between a red car and a white pick-up style transit in the Sittingbourne-bound carriageway.

The driver of the red car, a 42-year-old woman from Sheerness and her 8-year-old son died in the incident. A 6-year-old boy was hurt and taken to a London hospital for treatment his injuries which are described as being minor.

The male driver of the pick-up has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He is currently in police custody.

Officers from the Kent Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit are appealing for information regarding the incident, particularly from witnesses who observed the white pick-up or red car prior to the collision.  Anyone with any information and who have not yet spoken to police as yet, is asked to call Sergeant Chris Wade on 01622 798538.

Search For Absconders From HMP Standford Hill

Search For Absconders From HMP Standford Hill
On The Run - Billy Harkins (left) and Scott Callaghan (Right)

Kent Police are appealing for the public's help after two prisoners absconded from HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey on Saturday (28th June) night. 

29-year-old Billy Harkins (pictured on the left above) is serving a prison sentencefor aggravated burglary and 35 year-old Scott Callaghan (pictured on the right above) for perverting the course of justice.

Detectives are carrying out enquiries to trace the pair and are appealling for anyone who has any information regarding their whereabouts to contact Kent Police by calling 999, quoting incident reference 28-1560 or alternatively they can contact Kent Crimestoppers free (from any landline) and anonimously on 0800 555 111.


SKLR Light Railway's 'Devastating' Arson Attack

SKLR Light Railway's 'Devastating' Arson Attack

Kent Police have confirmed that they are investigating a "suspicious" blaze at the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway (SKLR) last night (Saturday 28th June).

The Kent Fire & Rescue Service (KFRS) were called at 9.45pm by a concerned member of the public who reported seeing flames at the site. Appliances were sent from both Sittingbourne and Teynham Fire Stations with firefighters describing the portable building as being "well alight" by the time they arrived.

Sadly this is the second major blaze at the SKLR in 15 months, with a previous fire in March 2013 completely destroying the "old mess room". Paul Best from the SKLR, told SFM News: "We are totally devastated. We've got no buildings left at Sittingbourne Viaduct Station now, just some charred remains. We will now need to raise about £75,000 to get the Railway's facilities up to scratch at Sittingbourne Viaduct, particularly security, buildings and a disabled access ramp".

Anyone who has any information regarding this incident is asked to contact Kent Police by calling 999, quoting incident reference XY/022943/14 or, alternatively, they can contact Kent Crimestoppers free (from any landline) and anonimously on 0800 555 111.

You can donate regularly to the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway Appeal, or one-off, at www.justgiving.com/SKLR - but don't forget to Gift Aid if you are a UK tax payer!

*** UPDATE *** Paul wanted to say a BIG thank you to everyone who helped with the clearance of the debris on Sunday (29th June) morning and the many passengers who visited across the day. Paul also said that they could do with a couple of steel shipping containers, that could act as buildings at Sittingbourne Viaduct station, until they can build the replacement structures.


New Local Policing Model For Swale

New Local Policing Model For Swale

Chief Inspector Tony Henley (pictured), Swale's District Commander, will have greater control of resources in the area to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour as part of a new model launched by the Chief Constable of Kent Police earlier today.

Chief Inspectors for each of the 13 districts across Kent and Medway will be able to deliver enhanced local policing with the creation of two new units. The newly-formed Local District Policing Teams will be tasked to deal with emergency and non-emergency calls, investigate local crime such as assault and theft and provide increased community visibility across Swale. Local District Policing Teams will continue to use innovative tools such as Predictive Policing to help tackle and prevent crime in Kent's communities.

Under the previous model, officers responsible for responding to emergency 999 calls and custody staff were managed centrally and not under the direction of the district commanders. As a result of the change, Chief Inspectors will have greater flexibility in allocating resources where they are most needed. New Community Policing Teams will form part of the existing Community Safety Units and will tackle anti-social behaviour and persistent local problems. They will provide a better connection with their local communities, while Police Community Support Officers will continue to work closely in their designated areas. Each ward across the county will continue to benefit from its own assigned PSCO.

Community Safety Units remain dedicated to dealing with licensing, mental health and crime prevention. They will also locally direct volunteers and district Special Constables and work alongside local authorities and partner agencies. Each district will continue to benefit from existing support from detectives in CID and the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, as well as other specialist units within the force.

District Commander, Chief Inspector Tony Henley of Kent Police, told SFM News: "The integration of local policing resources across the borough will increase my team's flexibility in responding to Swale's specific needs. For example, a shift pattern has been introduced that is designed to give a more consistent level of policing on the Island and Faversham. Local police will continue to enjoy strong relationships with key partners such as Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council Community Wardens as well as housing officers from local providers such as Amicus Horizon. We know the more co-ordinated we are in working together the more effectively and efficiently we will be able to tackle anti-social behaviour in the borough.  Therefore, the operational hub will be expanded in Sittingbourne to include every PCSO in the district. This will bring them under the direction of the most experienced sergeants and inspector who are best-placed to resolve anti-social behaviour."

Kent Police Chief Constable. Alan Pughsley. told SFM News: "Local policing is absolutely fundamental to everything we do and is at the heart of this new policing model. Listening and working together with our communities to make sure Kent continues to be a safe place and giving the best possible service to victims were the commitments I made when I became Chief Constable. Like many public sector organisations, we have been carefully planning for the challenges of the second Comprehensive Spending Review and overall we have to find a further £20million savings between 2014 and 2016. We were always aware there could be further cuts to the police budget and took this into account in our planning. Our new model outlines our approach to this next set of challenges and our vision for policing in Kent for the years to come. Putting greater resources at the disposal of our 13 district commanders will ensure they have direct influence and responsibility as to where those officers are best deployed to meet the needs of the local area."


Police Rural Day Of Action Leads To Warrants

Police Rural Day Of Action Leads To Warrants

Kent Police officers have executed a series of warrants as part of their ongoing work to crackdown on rural crime across the borough.

The latest "Operation Nonagon" took place on Thursday 5th June and saw the Rural Partnership Team working alongside local officers from Sittingbourne Police Station. 

Inspector Andrew Judd, from the Ashford Neighbourhood Policing Team and lead officer in the operation, told SFM News: "This was just the latest in a series of days of action conducted between the four districts, known as Operation Nonagon. We know that burglary, vehicle crime, and fuel theft are the most common types of crime experienced in rural areas and we are committed to disrupting criminal activity and catching those responsible."

In Tonge a father and son were arrested after a warrant was carried out at a farm in Church Road, where 59 plants, believed to be cannabis plants, were found and seized. 53-year-old Stephen Parkinson, of Aerodrome Road in Hawkinge, and his 32-year-old son Steven Parkinson, from Agate Court in Sittingbourne, were charged with cannabis production and will appear at Maidstone Magistrates Court on Thursday 26th June.

A separate warrant was carried out at a property in Agate Court where plants believed to be cannabis were found in a bedroom.

In Willow Avenue, Faversham, a 38-year-old-man was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and was bailed until Monday 4th August.

Elsewhere, officers carried out additional patrols and intelligence checks in the Raspberry Hill Lane and Old Ferry Road areas of Iwade. Visits were made to local farms where landowners were given crime prevention advice.

Inspector Judd added: "This operation involved more than 50 officers in total, across several Kent boroughs and we will be conducting more days of action soon. In the meantime local officers will continue to patrol rural areas as part of their daily business, with every ward in the county having a named PCSO. If you see anything suspicious in your area call you can us on 101, or you can use 999 if a crime is in progress."

For more on what Kent Police is doing to curb rural crime visit:- www.kent.police.uk/rural and/or follow @kentpolicerural on Twitter.


'Serious Failings' At Local GP Practice

'Serious Failings' At Local GP Practice

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have issued a damning report on the Lakeside Medical Centre on Todd Crescent.

The CQC believe that patients of Dr Bijan Saha were being placed at "unacceptable levels of risk" and concluded that the failings were having a "major impact" on patients at the surgeryThe practice failed to meet 11 standards of safety and patient care with officials identifying problems with privacy and dignity for patients, cleanliness and medication errors.

The regulator is taking enforcement action against the surgery but is not legally permitted to comment on the type of action.

Michele Golden, CQC's Head of GP inspection in the South, told SFM News: "The issues that we have identified at Dr Saha's practice are very serious, and we'd urge anyone who uses it to read our full report. The failings detailed in the report show why we've decided to take action against him - although we cannot discuss the nature of that action any further at this stage for legal reasons. We've shared our concerns with the rest of the local health economy and have asked that they also consider what action they may need to take to ensure that people using services at this practice are protected from harm. People using this practice are currently at unacceptable levels of risk - and keeping them safe is a job for all of us. Patients are entitled to be treated in services which are safe, effective, caring, well run, and responsive to their needs. We'll continue to monitor this practice very closely, and will report further on the action we are taking in due course."

The action follows an unannounced inspection of the practice in March. Inspectors looked at 11 standards of care at the surgery including respecting and involving people who use services, the adequate care and welfare of patients, whether or not appropriate measures were in place to safeguard people who use services from abuse, whether there is adequate cleanliness and infection control and the effective management of medicines. They also looked at the safety and suitability of the premises, various requirements relating to workers, record keeping and the assessment and monitoring of the quality of service provision.

The practice failed to meet National Standards in all areas the CQC concluded. Patients told inspectors during their visit that practice staff would talk about other cases in their presence - breaching patient confidentiality, two patients said that they didn't feel listened to during their consultations and it was also found that medicines were not being handled or stored properly.

You can read the Full Report on the Care Quality Commission's website at:- www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-530779339.

Addict Jailed For Stealing From Disabled Woman

Addict Jailed For Stealing From Disabled Woman

A drug addict who stole a purse from a disabled woman under the guise of helping her has been jailed for 21 months.

Matthew Beaney, of no fixed address, was imprisoned by a judge at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday (11th June). The 29 year old had pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

The victim, a 50 year old Sittingbourne woman, was in Boots in High Street, Sittingbourne, on 6 November last year to collect a prescription. After taking the medication in store, she became violently unwell and vomited on the floor. Members of staff hurried to assist the woman, as well as Beaney, who was also in the shop.

However, while pretending to be concerned, Beaney was also seen creeping towards the counter where she had left her purse and placing it inside a folding magazine. He then left the shop and only then did the victim notice the purse - which contained bank cards, cash and family photographs - had disappeared.

Beaney was identified by local officers and arrested on 18th December. In interview, he denied the offence and suggested that he picked up the wallet by accident. He was charged with theft the following day. 

He was also charged with one count of burglary dwelling in connection with a break-in Chalkwell Road, Sittingbourne on 10th December. The victim in this case, a 50 year old man, had left the address in at 10.45am and returned almost 12 hours later to find his flat screen television and Blu-Ray player had been stolen. A few days later, a friend of his told him Beaney had sold him the items for £50.

Investigating officer, DC Richard Allingham of Kent Police, told SFM News: "Beaney was so desperate for heroin that he took advantage of a poorly woman when she was at her most vulnerable. He saw an opportunity and took it straightaway, even pretending to comfort her so he could get close enough to steal her wallet. It was a disgusting act of self-service that he later pretended to know nothing about, even suggesting he had picked up the purse accidentally. However, the evidence against him was overwhelming. A month later, he broke into the second victim's house and stole his possessions to sell them on for the same reason - to get money to buy drugs. Unfortunately drugs play a part in many crimes, which is why Kent Police works to combat demand and supply throughout the county. Beaney's conviction should send a warning to all those who believe they are above the law in Kent."

Swale Regeneration Conference Hailed A Success

Swale Regeneration Conference Hailed A Success

Swale Borough Council held their first Regeneration Conference "Putting Swale On The Map" on Wednesday (4th June) afternoon at the Coniston Hotel.

Addressing more than 200 delegates from local businesses, investors, key stakeholders and top executives from leading property consultancies, the main Guest Speaker, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP - Minister of State for Business & Enterprise, said that he was ‘fundamentally happy' to devolve power from central government and directly hand it to local communities through Local Enterprise Partnerships and that Swale offered "a superb location to do business".

Leader of Swale Borough Council, Cllr Andrew Bowles, told SFM News "I am delighted that Swale Borough Council has been able to host this first ever Regeneration Conference. With all the investment opportunities in the borough, this has really helped us to put 'Swale On The Map'. With seminars throughout the afternoon and keynote speeches that included Richard Upton (Spirit of Sittingbourne), and Lord Digby Jones (BBCs ‘Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter'), the event provided a thoroughly captivating round-up of how businesses are doing, where it is all heading and how the regeneration can happen for Swale."

Also at the Conference, the new updated Sittingbourne town centre regeneration plans were presented by the Spirit of Sittingbourne - the consortium behind the delivery of the project.

Police Appeal Following Serious Assault In Sheerness

Police Appeal Following Serious Assault In Sheerness

Kent Police local Swale Detectives are investigating a serious assault by a group of men in Sheerness at the weekend, which has left the victim with a fractured jaw.

Kent Police officers were called shortly before 3.30am on Saturday morning (31st May) to a report of an assault near the clock tower in Sheerness High Street. A couple - a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man from the town - had been on a night out. As they attempted to walk home, they were approached by a group of about 10 people near the clock tower and the man was reportedly assaulted. He suffered suspected multiples fractures of the jaw and is being treated for his injuries at a hospital in West Sussex.

Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Beverley Morrison of Kent Police, told SFM News: "This was a cowardly and unprovoked attack on a man by a group of people that has left the victim with serious injuries and he remains in hospital getting treatment for those. I am appealing for anyone who might have witnessed the assault or who might have seen a group of people walking together in the High Street area between 3am and 3.45am on Saturday 31 May, to come forward and help us with our enquiries."

Anyone with any information is asked to call DS Morrison on 01634 792588, quoting reference XY/19053/14, or alternatively they can contact Kent Crimestoppers free (from any landline) and anonymously on 0800 555 111.

MP Welcomes School Building Funding

MP Welcomes School Building Funding

Local MP, Gordon Henderson, has welcomed a new £2 billion fund to help rebuild schools most in need of urgent repair, which could benefit schools here in Sittingbourne.

The Government announced a second round of funding for the successful Priority Schools Building Programme, which is already helping 261 schools across England, including Westlands Primary School. 

Mr Henderson told SFM News: "Delivering the best schools for our children, so the next generation can gain the skills they need to succeed in life, is a key part of the Governments long-term economic plan to secure Britain's future. That's why it is great news for young people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey that there will be a new round of funding for the Priority Schools Building Programme. This scheme targets funding where it is needed most and has already helped Westlands Primary School in Sittingbourne. It's only by taking difficult decisions on public spending that Conservatives have been able to afford to protect the schools budget and provide funding for school rebuilding. Only by sticking to our long-term economic plan can we provide the first class education that our young people need to get on in life."




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