Local News

M2 Still Remains Closed Due To "Sink Hole"

M2 Still Remains Closed Due To "Sink Hole"

The 15 metre deep sink hole, that has shut the M2 between junctions 5 (Sittingbourne) and 6 (Faversham/Ashford) for the last 24 hours, is still causing traffic chaos this afternoon.

The Highways Agency has advised that they are hoping to have one lane either side open for tomorrow but there are no guarantees as urgent safety investigations continue.

Drivers heading to and from Dover are still advised to use the M20 instead.

The hole, between junctions 5 and 6, measures approximately 5 metres by 2 metres and 15 metres deep. 

A clearly signed diversion is still in place via the A249, the M20, the A20, the A252, and the A251 - using the solid black circle route coast-bound and the solid black square route London-bound.

Met Office Amber Weather Warnings

Met Office Amber Weather Warnings

The Met Office has confirmed that a vigorous area of low pressure is expected to move northeastwards across the UK today (Wednesday 12th February) clearing eastwards by the early hours of tomorrow morning. That have also confirmed that "this is likely to be accompanied by a swathe of southwesterly gales across many areas which may be severe in places. Winds will veer more westerly later in the day".

A first peak in the winds is likely over southern and England around the midday with the main swathe of even stronger and potentially damaging winds crossing parts of Wales then northern England later in the day. They state that "the public should be prepared for the the risk of disruption to transport and possibly also power supplies. In addition, large waves are likely to affect coastal areas. 

According to the Met Office, around 50mm of rain could fall locally through until Friday afternoon, which is roughly the amount normally expected in all of February. Winds of up to 60mph are also being predicted for Kent on Friday and the start of the weekend.

Stay tuned to 106.9 SFM for further information.


Joyrider Jailed After Sittingbourne Burglaries

Joyrider Jailed After Sittingbourne Burglaries

A teenage burglar has been jailed for two years after stealing a car and crashing it into someone's house in Sittingbourne.

18-year-old Jimmy Avery, of Woodbury Avenue in Murston, was sentenced on Friday 31st January, at Maidstone Crown Court, to 29 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, one of theft, taking a vehicle without authority and aggravated vehicle taking. He was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Avery was responsible for a number of break-ins into houses in Sittingbourne in which he stole car keys before taking the vehicle itself. He admitted breaking into a property in Allenby Walk on Tuesday 22nd October, gaining entry through a window and stealing the victim's handbag and car keys. He stole her Audi, joyriding it through Murston before abandoning it. A fingerprint left at the scene was later confirmed to belong to him.

On Tuesday 5th November, Avery broke into another property in Canterbury Road, Sittingbourne, stealing the car keys to a Vauxhall Astra. Again, he left a fingerprint behind. The stolen car was nominated for Automatic Number Plate Recognition, through which it was spotted in the early hours of 7 November near East Grinstead. A Kent Police patrol nearby pursued the vehicle when Avery refused to stop. Avery lost control of the car and crashed into a house.

In interview, Avery admitted all the offences, showing no remorse and agreeing he 'put his foot down' when he was pursued.

Investigating officer, DC Richard Allingham of Kent Police, told SFM News: "In my career to date, I've rarely come across a criminal who showed as little remorse for his actions or as little regard for his victims as Avery. He was completely unperturbed when I challenged him about his crimes. He offered little explanation aside from the fact he saw an open window here or noticed all the lights were off in a property there and thought he'd get away with it. Unfortunately for him, he didn't. I welcome the news he'll be behind bars for the next several months and can only hope it will give him an opportunity to think about the consequences of his selfish, shameful behaviour."


Archbishop Accepts Demelza Vice President Role

Archbishop Accepts Demelza Vice President Role

Demelza Hospice Care for Children has announced today that the Archbishop of Canterbury has become a Vice President of the charity.

Justin Welby was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013, after more than 20 years of ministry experience. He is no stranger to personal tragedy, feeling the call for ordination six years after his seven month old daughter died in a car crash in France.

Archbishop Justin joins high profile figures such as Jayne Torvill, Robin Cousins, Dave Berry, Lady Kingsdown and former chairman Des Crampton who are also Vice Presidents of the children's charity. The Archbishop also follows former Archbishop Rowan Williams who was a Vice President of the charity and who visited Demelza South East London in 2010.

Demelza celebrated its 15th birthday last year (2013) and provides care and support for hundreds of children across the South East who are not expected to reach adulthood through respite, symptom control, end of life care, counselling and support for their family.

Archbishop Justin said: "I'm honoured to be asked to be a Vice President of Demelza. The work of hospices is often misunderstood but places like Demelza are vital, helping to care for some of the most vulnerable in our society and enabling them to make the most of the time they have left, whether it is six weeks or six years."

Steve Hoy, Chief Executive of Demelza told SFM News: "We are delighted to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury as a Vice President of Demelza. We rely on the support of the local community and the generosity of organisations such as churches so to have the patronage of such an important figure in the Church of England is wonderful news for Demelza. We hope his support will help us raise awareness of hospice care and the vital work we do across Kent, South East London and East Sussex."


Council Committee Refers Case To Secretary Of State

Council Committee Refers Case To Secretary Of State

The case of two "missing" Councillors on Swale Borough Council, who moved to Spalding in Lincolnshire but refused to resign their seats, is to be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.

Alan and Jean Willicombe left their Woodstock ward in the autumn but have refused to resign, claiming they can still effectively represent their residents from 150 miles away from their Ward.

Swale Borough Council's General Purposes Committee met on Monday (3rd February) and the issue was raised by Labour Leader, Mike Haywood, on the grounds that whilst there is a residential qualification to stand, there is no residential requirement to serve the term of office locally.

At the meeting Cllr Haywood said: "It can't be right to qualify for election by living locally but conceivably to move away the day after the election count.  This is not specifically about the Willicombes but about an anomaly which is wrong in principle".

The Panel agreed unanimously to refer this concern to the Secretary of State, the panel consisting of a Tory majority and being Chaired by Council Leader, Andrew Bowles.


CCTV Released After Six Upchurch Shoplifting Incidents

CCTV Released Following Six Upchurch Shoplifting Incidents

Kent Police have released the image of a man they are keen to speak with in connection with multiple shoplifting offences at shop in Upchurch.

On numerous occasions throughout December a man entered the shop on The Street in Upchurch and reportedly stole groceries.

Police would like to speak with the man in connection with six incidents of shoplifting from the store, the first of which was reported on 7th December 2013 when various items from the shop totalling around £120 were taken.

The suspect is described as being a white male, aged between 20 and 30-years-old of slim build and around 5'7 tall. He has short dark brown hair.

If you can help Kent Police with this investigation you are asked to contact them on 01795 433015, quoting reference XY/040317/13, or alternatively you can contact Kent CrimeStoppers free (from any landline) and anonimously on 0800 555 111.

Tributes Paid To Motorcyclist Killed In Sheppey Collision

Tribute Paid To Motorcyclist Killed In Sheppey Collision

The family of a man, who was killed in a road traffic collision in Queenborough on Sheppey, have described him as a 'proud father and family man'.

Harry Richard Higgins, of Hillside Road in Queenborough, died after he was involved in a road traffic collision in Main Road on Saturday (25th January) .

The 31-year-old was riding a purple Honda NES, at about 10.40am, when his bike was involved in a head on collision with a blue Honda CR-V travelling in the direction of Queenborough. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Harry's family have released the following tribute to the local media: 'Harry was a much loved father, son, uncle, nephew, brother and friend to many who will be sorely missed by all those that knew him. He died tragically doing something he loved - riding his motorbike - and his family are devastated at the news. He was a real family man and a proud father and it's hoped he will be remembered for the joy he gave to those closest to him. Harry's heart was always in the right place and he would do anything for anyone. Harry, you will be truly missed - behave yourself up there, all our love is sent to you and you will always be in our thoughts.'

The road was closed at 11.00am from the junction onto the A249 and was fully reopened again by 3.25pm.

Specialist investigators from Kent Police continue to appeal for witnesses to the collision. Anyone with any information, or who might have witnessed the collision, is asked to call the dedicated Serious Collision Investigation Unit Appeal Line on 01622 798538.

Fourth Man Arrested In Cock-Fghting Investigation

Fourth Man Arrested In Cock-Fghting Investigation

A fourth man has been arrested by detectives investigating suspected illegal cock-fighting and animal cruelty at a farm in Iwade.

Officers from Kent Police discovered up to 170 birds in a converted barn in Raspberry Hill after executing a warrant on last Monday (13th January). A number of dead cockerels were also found at the farm, as was a suspected fighting ring - known as a cockpit - and paraphernalia associated with the training of birds for fighting.

Further searches uncovered about 100 wraps of a suspected Class A drug, a substantial quantity of cash, suspected stolen vehicles and a number of dogs were also seized on suspicion of welfare offences in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

This Monday (20th January), officers raided a business premises at Detling Aerodrome and unearthed three lorry-loads of illicit alcohol, worth an estimated £75,000 in evaded tax. A substantial quantity of cash was also seized by officers.

A 52-year-old man from Iwade was arrested on suspicion of a variety of theft offences, possession with intent to supply a controlled drug, animal cruelty and proceeds of crime.
He joins a 47-year-old man from Teynham and a 20-year-old man from Swanley who were arrested on 13th January in connection with the same offences, while a 21-year-old man from Upchurch was also arrested on the same day on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug.

All four men have been bailed to appear at Sittingbourne Police Station on Wednesday 9th April, pending further enquiries.

Defibrillators Installed At Swale Council Offices

Defibrillators Installed At Swale Council Offices

Swale Borough Council have now installed defibrillators at its office's in Sittingbourne and at the Sheppey Gateway in Sheerness.

Three machines are available across the two sites, with over 36 volunteers trained to use them.

Councillor Ken Pugh, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Health, told SFM News: "When somebody goes into cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation, reduces their chance of survival by 10%. We support the need to make defibrillators available in public places. According to the Resuscitation Council (UK), 30,000 people in the UK, sustain a cardiac arrest every year and defibrillation is the only effective response.

In addition, members of our Swale Youth Forum granted £500 to Highsted Grammar school for the purchase of Defibrillator equipment, as part of the SADS UK campaign. The money will also be used to train members of staff and students to use the machines. It is important we are working together to ensure our communities are safe."

Last year the quick actions of Swallows Leisure Centre staff in Sittingbourne and the use of their defibrillator, saved a person's life after he went into cardiac arrest following a gym class.

The defibrillator is a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart when a cardiac arrest is suffered. (Source: BHF). With prompt defibrillation, survival rates as high as 75% have been reported. Since 1996, the British Heart Foundation has put 9,700 defibrillators into the community, saving at least 230 lives.

Full training has been given on CPR and the use of the defibrillator to staff at both sites. Defibrillators give clear voice instructions to the user and will only deliver a shock if the heart is in ‘fibrillation'. The machine will detect the rhythm of the heart and only deliver a shock if necessary. This means that the machine will not deliver a shock unless it detects this given rhythm. SBC have purchased fully automatic machines, meaning you don't even have to push a button to deliver a shock. The machine instructs the user on how to prepare the patient and attach the pads, it will then do the rest itself.


Gambler, Who Swindled Clients Out Of £750k, Jailed

Gambler, Who Swindled Clients Out Of £750k, Jailed

A compulsive gambler, who swindled clients out of more than £750,000 by offering incredible deals on high profile sporting events, has been jailed for three years and four months.

James Edward Maxwell, who ran three Sittingbourne-based sports memorabilia and hospitality companies, "spun a staggering web of lies in order to persuade wealthy clients and charities to hand over cash, including claims that his young son had been diagnosed with cancer" according to Kent Police.

The 41-year-old, formerly of Leigh Road in Sittingbourne, was involved with three businesses selling sports memorabilia in the town - The Autograph Store in High Street, Sports Idols on St George's Business Park, and Premier Signings and Hospitality Ltd, registered at Velum Drive. None of the three businesses are still in operation.

Police found that from 2009 he had defrauded customers out of thousands of pounds by asking them to transfer cash into the business account for goods but giving them his own personal bank details, taking cash and using funds in the business account as his own. Maxwell also assumed the identity of one of his colleagues, unbeknownst to them, and made up other aliases to protect his own reputation and convince clients they were dealing with a larger company. He manipulated friends and customers into investing into Sports Idols and Premier Signings and Hospitality by professing 'cash flow' troubles and promising paybacks with interest - but the refunds rarely materialised and, when they did, were often followed by another plea for a loan.

Maxwell, who now lives in Horsham, Sussex, had set up another company, Premier Signings and Hospitality, in early 2011, auctioned off sports hospitality packages at charity auctions, private functions and directly to clients. He offered a multitude of packages for some of the most famous sports events in the world in 2010 and 2011, including the Monaco and British Grands Prix.

Police say that he lured customers into handing over tens of thousands of pounds for dream encounters with sports stars including Formula One drivers and football players, and accommodation on a super-yacht owned by motorsport tycoon Eddie Jordan. Maxwell claimed he could offer them at cost price because he had ‘connections' with the celebrities, telling them: ‘It's not what you know in this business, it's who you know.' However, following the Police investigation it would appear that Maxwell had never met any of the famous people he was offering as part of the deals.

He offered the packages - which ostensibly included flights and accommodation at five-star hotels or yachts - at incredible knock-down prices, taking deposits and payments from clients. Many would then be told days before that the yacht had been double-booked or the deal had been cancelled, only for Maxwell to promise to invest their money into another package, none of which ever materialised.

Other clients grew suspicious with repeated excuses from Maxwell, who regularly forgot which alias he was supposed to be using and signed emails off with the wrong name, and did their own research. They then found the incredible deal they had signed up for would cost so much more in real life that the prices Maxwell was offering were completely unrealistic.

When challenged, Maxwell would recite a litany of lies, claiming over and over again, to a number of different people at different times, that his father had just died. He also claimed to have been diagnosed with testicular cancer and told one client he was struggling to keep his finances straight as his young son had just been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. He would promise refunds and repeatedly insist he had made bank transfers, which investigators later proved never left his account, or write cheques for huge amounts that would immediately bounce.

Maxwell also defrauded investors in a Spanish property scheme and began offering clients cut-price luxury package holidays to New York and St Lucia, leaving them puzzled and furious when they discovered he had never so much as booked them on a single flight after taking their money.

Kent Police began an investigation into Maxwell after a number of clients came forward to report him. Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate spent months following Maxwell's messy paper trail and analysing financial accounts to find that he used most of the vast sums of money given to him in good faith on gambling, sometimes spending up to thousands of pounds in a single day. He also paid out on a number of luxury holidays for his family.

The painstaking work into his case was still going on, with officers poring over his finances, locating victims from years-old scams and working to build up a huge dossier of evidence against him when, on 14th January 2013, Maxwell was charged with 17 counts of fraudulent activity.

At Maidstone Crown Court on Monday 11th November 2013, he pleaded guilty to 17 charges of Section 1 fraud and offences under the Fraudulent Trading Companies Act 2006, with 37 other offences taken into account. He was jailed last Friday (17th January) and was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for 17 offences to run concurrent. He was also disqualified from holding any Limited Company position for ten years.

His father-in-law, Terence Boswell, of Surrey, had been lured into fraudulent activity alongside him and was given a nine-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of transferring criminal property.

Investigating officer, DC Steve Payne from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, told SFM News: "This was a huge investigation into, what turned out to be, a staggering web of lies spun by Maxwell in a desperate attempt to keep his gambling habit afloat. He betrayed dozens of people with his fraud when it emerged the deals he was offering were simply too good to be true. He was also a traitor to his clients, whom he manipulated into loaning him money and investing in the businesses he was involved with as silent partners. Maxwell preyed on people's hopes and dreams. He would offer dazzling hospitality packages, promising this, that and the other, to sports fans willing to pay vast sums of money to meet their heroes and watch these huge sports events in the lap of luxury. None of these packages ever materialised. His victims were left confused and embarrassed, but more than that, they were left out of pocket after promising their hard-earned cash to this swindler."

DC Payne went on to add: "His increasingly unstable structure of deceit led to his downfall - he had been betraying the trust of his colleagues for months by using their names and blaming botched payments on them, and eventually became so confused by his own lies that he forgot who he was pretending to be. He asked one hospitality source to ensure two parties were kept away from one another as one group knew him by one name and the other another name entirely. Maxwell has a gambling problem, that much is clear. His account went from dizzying highs to lows in just days as he would take his clients' cash and gamble it all away. As the net began closing in, he made even riskier moves in an attempt to keep the money coming in, but our investigators followed his every financial move. To see him in the dock and to know he is behind bars is to see the result of years' worth of work by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate come to fruition."



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