Local News

New Swale Borough Council Leader Elected

New Swale Borough Council Leader Elected

Cllr Mike Baldock has become the new leader of Swale Borough Council.

Cllr Baldock was elected at an extraordinary council meeting held last night (Wednesday 27th April) and he replaces Cllr Roger Truelove, who announced he was stepping down as leader last month.

Cllr Mike Baldock, told SFM News: “It is a great honour to be elected as leader of Swale, as I care deeply about the whole borough. Roger has set a very high standard to follow but he also showed that differing groups could work constructively together. The move towards a new committee system is an exciting opportunity to make sure that every elected councillor - regardless of party-affiliation, or location in the borough - can be genuinely involved in issues affecting their residents".

He went on to add: “We all have serious challenges ahead, and I believe the best way for us to approach them locally is by working together and making sure that our debates and decisions are fully informed and focussed on supporting local people and our local communities. I look forward to now working with my fellow councillors to drive forward further improvements across the whole borough.”

The Leader confirmed his deputy will be Cllr Monique Bonney, and the cabinet will be as follows:

  • Climate – Cllr Tim Valentine
  • Finance – Cllr Roger Truelove, with Cllr Derek Carnell as deputy
  • Health – Cllr Angela Harrison, with Cllr Hannah Perkin as deputy
  • Housing – Cllr Ben Martin, with Cllr Ghlin Whelan as deputy
  • Planning – Cllr Mike Baldock, with Cllr Alastair Gould as deputy
  • Community – Cllr Richard Palmer, with Cllr Elliott Jayes as deputy
  • Economic development – Cllr Monique Bonney, with Cllr Sarah Stephen as deputy
  • Environment – Cllr Julian Saunders, with Cllr Eddie Thomas as deputy

More information can be found at: www.swale.gov.uk.

Overturned Lorry On M2 Lorry Causes Travel Chaos

Overturned Lorry On M2 Causes Travel Chaos

An overturned lorry on the M2 caused commuter chaos during this morning's rush hour.

The HGV crashed at around 7.40pm last night (Wednesday 27th April) and shed its load across the London-bound carriageway between Junction 5 (Sittingbourne) and Junction 4 (Gillingham) and the road remained closed for 10 hours.

Kent Police were on the scene throughout the morning with diversions in place via the M20 at Maidstone and the A2 up in to the Medway towns. At one point the National Highways website said: "Due to the complex nature of the recovery we have no time for reopening at this stage. Motorists are advised to follow the 'solid square' diversion symbol on signs".

Kent Police confirmed: "officers were called at 7.45pm last night after a lorry overturned and there were no serious injuries. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol and after also failing a roadside drugs test."

There were long delays on the A249 all morning and the 106.9 SFM Jambuster Line took lots of calls from frustrated motorists. Delays at one point were up to an hour on the road.

National Highways confirmed that the London-bound carriageway was re-opened at 8:00am but that the junction 5 entry slip from the A249 remained closed for the clean-up operation. National Highways warned that long delays remained.

Tune in to 106.9 SFM for the latest or follow us for updates on Twitter @SFMRadio.

Up to date information from National Highways can be found by calling: 0300 123 5000.

Appeal Following Fatal A249 Collision

Appeal Following Fatal A249 Collision

Investigators are appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage following a fatal collision on the A249.

At around 3.20pm Yesterday (Saturday 23rd April) afternoon, a collision involving a grey BMW, a blue Vauxhall and a Harley Davidson motorbike took place on the northbound carriageway of the A249 near Danaway.

Kent Police attended along with South East Coast Ambulance Service and the motorcyclist, a man in his 50s, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) are investigating and urge anyone who witnessed the collision, or who has dashcam footage, to contact them.

Anyone with information should call the SCIU on 01622 798538 or, altyernatively, they can email sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk quoting reference AH/SC/047/22.

Primary School Offers Sent Out Today

Primary School Offers Sent Out Today

Families in Sittingbourne will find out today (Tuesday 19th April) which primary schools their children have been offered to join in September 2022, with nine out of ten being offered their first preference.

The parents and carers of 17,592 children who applied for a place at a Kent school will receive their offers via email or online. Of the 17,175 Kent applicants, 16,787 (97.74%) will receive one of their three named schools and 15,486 (90.07%) will be offered their first preference.

Shellina Prendergast, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, told SFM News: “I am delighted to see that we have managed to offer first-preference places to 90 per cent of our children, which shows the broad selection of fantastic schools that Kent offers. The number of children who did not receive any of their preferences is under 2.5 per cent and, in many cases, this is because parents named fewer than three schools, which limited the options KCC could consider before assigning them an alternative. We appreciate this will be a disappointing and concerning time for those pupils and their families, but we would urge them not to be discouraged as this is only the first stage in the applications process".

She went on to add: “Many pupils will secure places through waiting lists and reallocation, and I would like to reassure parents and guardians that a specialist KCC team is on hand to help them make the most of the options available to them. I hope that those in that situation will arrange to visit the school where they have been offered a place and speak to the staff, so they can then make an informed decision about whether or not it is appropriate for their child.”

Parents and carers who applied online will receive an email after 4pm today (Tuesday 19th April), indicating which school they have been offered; the timing of the email will depend on the email service provider. Parents and carers can also log in after 5pm to view the offer online. Those who did not provide KCC with an email address will be sent notification by first class post today.

Details of what to do if you are not happy with the allocation can be found at: www.kent.gov.uk/primaryadmissions or via the email primaryadmissions@kent.gov.uk

Parkrun Supports Swale Foodbank At Easter

Parkrun Supports Swale Foodbank At Easter

Over the last three weeks, Sittingbourne parkrunners have risen to the occasion and donated a cracking 60 Easter eggs and other chocolate treats to Swale Foodbank. 

Young volunteer Henry who is usually out on the course as a 'mini' marshall, collected a staggering 27 by encouraging family and friends to donate to the good cause.

Yvonne Crawford, Sittingbourne Parkrun Event Director, told SFM News: “As always when we support Swale Foodbank, our parkrun community doesn’t disappoint."At Christmas, we donated three food hampers for Hampers for Hope, so families could enjoy a festive treat. We also collected over 30 advent calendars which were distributed to Swale Foodbank too. Young Henry did us proud too with his collecting. When the foodbank coordinator came to collect the eggs, he explained they had run out so our collection was very welcome and would mean more people getting a treat this Easter weekend.

Yvonne went on to add: “Saturday (17th April) was our first Easter Parkrun since 2019 due to the pandemic. We encouraged people to dress up and there were goodie bags for the younger runners and spot prizes.”

Sittingbourne Parkrun is a 5k community event which takes place every Saturday at 9:00am at Milton Creek Country Park. Everyone is welcome and you can run, jog or walk the two-lap course. With a tailwaker at the end, no one comes last. If you fancy volunteering they have a wide range of roles including marshals, scanners and timekeepers. You can find out more by visiting: www.parkrun.org.uk/sittingbourne.

Council To Discuss Homeless Pilot Programme

Council To Discuss Homeless Pilot Programme

Access to a new job and home could be on the cards for people experiencing homelessness here in Swale.

A 12-month pilot programme, with homeless crowd sourcing social enterprise Beam, will be discussed at Swale Borough Council’s cabinet meeting this week (on Wednesday 13th April).

The programme would aim to help 38 people start jobs, 15 people leave homelessness and 23 people avoid homelessness.

Cllr Ben Martin, cabinet member for housing at Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “Beam are doing amazing work raising donations from the public to help people access the training, and other support they need to get a new job and off the streets for good. We currently have 879 households in Swale accessing our homelessness services ranging from those under threat of becoming homeless to people who are already sleeping rough, and with the cost of living continuing to rise, this number will only increase. With Kent County council cutting homeless funding this year, we must find more innovative ways to form successful partnerships to help local people get back on their feet. This initial pilot programme will give our officers an additional tool to help people get back on their feet for the long term.”

Cllr Martin went on to add: “We have a duty of care to the people who come to us for help with their housing need. We currently have 380 households in temporary accommodation, and I would love to see those who can get back on their feet with a new job and home. If approved, this could provide the much-needed missing link that moves people out of temporary housing and into their new life.”

You can read the full report being given to the cabinet here.

Crews Tackle Sittingbourne Bedroom Blaze

Crews Tackle Sittingbourne Bedroom Blaze

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) are issuing important electrical safety advice following a property fire in Sittingbourne.

Three fire engines were sent to the incident on Westmoreland Drive earlier today (Saturday 9th April) and crews arrived to flames from an upstairs bedroom.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used hose reel jets to extinguish the blaze, before clearing the property of smoke with a high-pressure fan. The occupier closed internal doors behind them while exiting the property, which is believed to have reduced the amount of smoke damage throughout the building. No casualties were reported.

The fire is believed to have started accidentally due to an electrical fault. Following the fire, crews are reminding the public to always take care with electrical items and to only purchase products from reputable suppliers. You should also switch off all electrical items at the plug when you're not using them, to reduce the risk of a fire.

'Fly Tipping Crackdown' Day Of Action

'Fly Tipping Crackdown' Day Of Action

Waste Carriers have been targeted as part of a day of action to crackdown on fly tipping.

Swale Borough Council teamed up with Kent Police’s Rural Task Force to carry out enquiries, arrest people suspected of fly tipping, seize vehicles and collate evidence with a view to prosecuting offenders for waste related crimes.

Outcomes from the day were:

  • 9 vehicles stopped and searched
  • 4 Fixed Penalty Notices issued
  • 1 vehicle seized

Cllr Julian Saunders, cabinet member for environment at the council, told SFM News: “We had a successful day of action on Tuesday (29th March) to crackdown on fly tipping. Our officers drove around Swale with Kent Police pulling over vehicles carrying waste to ensure the drivers had the correct waste carrier license and transfer notes. They stopped nine vehicles, issued four FPNs and the police seized a vehicle that didn’t have any road tax. Of the nine vehicles pulled over, three of them were issued FPNs for not having the correct waste carrier license and transfer notes for the waste they were carrying which is unacceptable".

Cllr Saunders went on to add: “It is the waste carrier’s responsibility to have the correct license to carry waste and maintain the right documents for each load, but it is also the responsibility of any residents and businesses using these unlicensed waste carriers. When they come to collect your household waste, you must check that they have the correct license and intend to dispose of it responsibly. We don’t want it dumped along our country lanes and seaside towns. If evidence is found that leads back to you, you can receive an on the spot fine of up to £400, so always ask to see a waste carriers license before using them. We’re cracking down on fly tipping and will make an example of anyone we find to be carrying waste illegally.”

It's believed that more and more of these action dayswill be taking place across the county. The council told SFM News "there is a tremendous amount of preparation taking place ahead of these days, including the gathering of vital intelligence to support the Council’s Enforcement team with their duties".

What can you do to dispose of your waste responsibly?

Fly tippers often target households via social media or local advertising, luring customers in with cheap rates to dispose of unwanted furniture, building rubble or garden waste. However, these unlicensed waste carriers often simply dump the waste where ever they can get away with it, including in Kent’s country lanes. Householders or small businesses found to be using criminals to dispose of their waste can and are being prosecuted by local authorities in Kent with fixed penalty notices that go up to £400 per offence.  Failure to pay such an FPN may result in court action where fines can be significantly larger.

To prevent this, householders should check whether someone is licenced to carry waste by visiting the Environment Agency website below, or alternatively call 03708 506506. It also helps if householders receive a written receipt or transfer note, including contact details, description of waste removed and details of where the waste is being taken to.


The 13 Kent councils, along with Kent Police, are working in partnership to Keep Kent Clean. To keep updated with the councils’ efforts to tackle fly tipping and littering, follow #KeepKentClean or visit their website: https://swale.gov.uk/bins-littering-and-the-environment .


Swale Council Leader To Step Down

Swale Council Leader To Step Down

Cllr Roger Truelove will be standing down as leader of Swale Borough Council after almost three years.

In an EXCLUSIVE first interview with 106.9 SFM's Tony Weaver, on today's (Thursday 31st March) "In The Bourne", Cllr Truelove said: "I have had the pleasure of serving Swale as a councillor for 28 years, the last three as leader of the coalition. I was very doubtful about standing as a candidate in 2019 and I long ago decided I would not stand in 2023".

He went on to add: “We are now moving towards a new committee structure, and I believe it will be in the best interest of this council for someone else to take up the new leadership role for the next 12 months. So, I will be standing down as leader, but I will continue to play a part in the new council system for the next year. There are a number of people who have the talent and commitment to take Swale forward, both from the administration or the opposition. I have been enormously lucky to have the support of an excellent cabinet over the last few years and I am pleased that we have shown that coalition politics in local government can work. I am also immensely grateful to council officers for their hard work, commitment and forbearance".

“Personally, in my time as leader I have tried to bring stability to the council, as well as unlock the resources needed to deliver improvements, and make us a kinder council. The last three years of this council has seen movement in several directions: the constitutional changes, the determination to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, the enhanced links with the voluntary sector, the climate change initiatives and the improvements to our public realm with a sense of our heritage. None of this is work completed and I hope we will see continuity into the committee period, over the next year.”

The formal announcement was made at a full council meeting last night  (Wednesday 30th March), where Cllr Truelove confirmed he would continue in the role until a new leader was elected at an extraordinary council meeting set for Wedneasday 27th April.


CCTV Released Following Attempted Theft

CCTV Released Following Attempted Theft From Pensioner

Swale Police officers, investigating a report of an attempted theft from a pensioner in Sittingbourne, have released a CCTV image.

At around 10am on Tuesday 8th March an elderly man withdrew a quantity of cash from a High Street bank.

He walked to his car which was parked in St Michael’s Road and placed the money inside.

At this point it is alleged a man approached the victim and told him he had a flat tyre.

While the victim was distracted a woman is reported to have attempted to steal the money, but was foiled when the victim became suspicious.

Investigating officer, PC Alison Honess-Crawley told SFM News: ‘It is thought the two suspects may have followed the pensioner from the bank and it is fortunate they were prevented in their efforts to steal his money. We have been making enquiries into the incident and are now releasing an image of a man who may be able to assist with our enquiries.".

Anyone who recognises the man, or has additional information, is urged to call Kent Police on 01795 419 419, quoting crime reference 46/43987/22 or, alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers FREE and anonymously on 0800 555 111 or using their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-ano... .


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