Local News

Swale Borough Council's Chief Executive Dies

Swale Borough Council's Chief Executive Dies

A statement released earlier today Swale Borough Council announced that their Chief Executive, Mark Radford, has died.

Mark had been undergoing treatment for cancer since last year, but during a recent stay in hospital, he contracted coronavirus. This proved to be one fight too many, and he passed away yesterday (Thursday 28th May).

Cllr Roger Truelove, Leader of Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We are all deeply saddened that our Chief Executive Mark Radford has passed away. This is so very sad because he has fought so long against his illness, only to catch the Coronavirus whilst receiving treatment for his condition. He has been so brave and sustained himself with the conviction that he would return to work with us. He was dedicated to the council and loved the borough, and he and I have spent much time discussing the future, as well as talking about our respective football clubs. It is a very sad day, and my thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s family and friends.”

Mark began working at Swale in 1987 as the council’s Estates Officer and Valuer, responsible for managing the property assets. In 1996 he was promoted to Director of Corporate Sservices and was responsible for running the business of the council as well as transforming service delivery of key services.

He became interim chief executive in February 2017 following the departure of Abdool Kara and his post was made permanent in January 2018.

Arriva Announce Bus Social Distancing Measures

Arriva Announce Bus Social Distancing Measures

Local bus company Arriva Kent have announced that they will be running more services from next Monday (1st June) - but passengers will be advised to wear face masks when social distancing isn't possible.

Other new measures will see a sign stating 'bus full' being displayed when the vehicle has reached its capacity and when this sign is showing, the bus will not stop to pick up any new passengers - it will only stop to let people off. If the bus does stop, only one new passenger will board for every passenger that disembarks from the service. On the bus itself any seats that are within two metres of the driver will be taped off, but wheelchair spaces will remain available and passengers will NOT be allowed to stand on their journeys.

Oliver Monahan, Area Managing Director at Arriva Kent, told SFM News: “We are committed to running vital services to support workers and people needing to undertake essential journeys at this time. Passengers can rest assured that during these times of change we are continually monitoring service levels in line with demand and will, wherever we can, adapt our services to meet this. We urge all those needing to travel to only use public transport if necessary and to check our website at www.arrivabus.co.uk/coronavirus for up-to-date advice and bus times before they travel.”

Revised timetables can be viewed and downloaded here, or by using the Arriva UK Bus App - available from the Apple Apps Store and Google Play.

First Ever Online Fire Station Open Day

First Ever Online Fire Station Open Day

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) are calling on residents at home to tune into their first ever online fire station open day on Thursday 28th May.

Aimed at families and all ages, the virtual event has been organised in place of a number of the their annual ‘Family Open Days', which were cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will take place from 11am on the Kent Fire and Rescue Service Facebook page, starting with Sittingbourne fire station.

Videos will be posted throughout the day until 2pm, each one with a different theme. Those who attended the annual open days last year, enjoyed hearing from station staff, watching firefighter displays, the Byrnes show and taking part in the new activity trail. The good news is, all of this will still play a part in the first ever online open day, meaning everyone can still experience what a real open day offers - but without even having to leave the house!

Those who 'tune in' will be able to learn important safety tips by watching the online firefighter videos and demonstrations and the service's education team, 999 control operators and the Byrnes family mascot, Woody, will also be making appearances through a number of fun, learn-at-home videos.

Ann Millington, Chief Executive of KFRS, told SFM News: "We know there's a lot going on in the world right now, but learning vital fire safety advice is still incredibly important- especially with more people at home during this time cooking, using electricals and having barbecues. We're really excited to launch the first ever online fire station open day, so that families can watch along and learn at home. We do hope you'll save the date and tune in on the day to enjoy the educational videos, shows and interactive activity trail, as created by our firefighters and support staff - it's going to be great fun for the whole family!"

For more information please visit: facebook.com/kentfirerescue.

Sittingbourne Robber Jailed For Snatching Handbag

Sittingbourne Robber Jailed For Snatching Handbag

A robber, who stole a handbag from an elderly woman while she walked to a Sittingbourne shop, has been jailed.

Craig Creasey initially engaged in conversation with the victim, who is in her 80s, before snatching her bag with such force she fell to the ground.

The 39-year-old, from Sittingbourne, admitted robbery and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday 13th May) to 16 months imprisonment.

The offence took place outside a shop in St John's Avenue at around 9:00am on Tuesday 14th April and was clearly captured on a security camera with the footage showing Creasey driving to the scene in a car before speaking to the woman outside the shop. The footage showed a short conversation taking place before the offender snatched her bag and ran towards his vehicle while she was left laying on the floor, having sustained bruising to her arm and soreness to her shoulder.

Creasey then drove away from the scene but, shortly after the offence took place, the CCTV footage was uploaded to social media and within minutes Creasey's name had been reported several times to Kent Police. Patrols acted promptly and arrested Creasey later that day and he has remanded in custody ever since. Officers were also able to reunite the victim with her bag, which contained several photographs that are of sentimental value.

The investigating officer, Detective Constable Nicola Lincoln, told SFM News: "This crime was carried out during lockdown, when most people are looking out for their vulnerable friends, family members and neighbours. Creasey saw his victim outside the shop and took advantage of the situation, pulling her to the ground, injuring her and stealing her bag. Though shaken and physically hurt, she has shown great bravery in assisting us with our case and should be commended. Though this was an awful experience for her, it brought out the best in the community, who rallied round and were keen to wish her well, send cards and flowers and even donate money to the NHS as per her wishes. A true reflection of the largely good, kind people in the community as opposed to the abhorrent actions of one person".

Latest COVID-19 Figures Released

Latest COVID-19 Figures Released

The latest Office Of National Statistic (ONS) figures for Kent have been released and show that the county has suffered at least 4,254 coronavirus cases, with a further 706 cases recorded in the Medway unitary authority area.

Locally here in Swale the rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people is 198.0 compared to the worse rate in the county in Ashford which was recorded as 492.7.

The week ending 1st May was the first, since coronavirus arrived in Britain,in which London did not register the highest number of Covid-19 deaths. The South East had the highest weekly count, with 967 death certificates mentioning a confirmed or suspected case of the disease.

Here in Sittingbourne a mobile testing centre (by appointment only, via a secure system) has been set up, with the NHS and the Army, in the Swale House Car Park. 

Speedway Mascot Naming Competition Result

Speedway Mascot Naming Competition Result

It's a tail in the jungle for sure how Kent Speedway fans have been rallying together to pick a name for their new mascot: not just the TouchTec King of the Jungle but a master of all he surveys at Central Park and there by right Royal Appointment!

The competition, backed by SpecSavers, saw a terrific response with a pride of great names including Lennie (a nod there surely to Kings' promoter Len Silver), Luke (ditto to much-loved former skipper 'Bowen 747'!), Kenny, Kingsley and Kingston!

It was certainly looking like it might be a headache for the judging panel to pick (and unfortunately in the jungle there are no headache tablets as the parrots eat them all...) - until a name came roaring into view with six picks and so taking the title.

Yes, the name is ROARY.

Commercial Manager Graham Darling told SFM News what happened next: "There were six people who went for Roary - which is a great name combining the Lion theme with the roar of the Speedway bikes - a sound loved by all in the sport. Six picked the winning name but there can only be one winner. We therefore arranged for Si Kellow of Iwade Garage, who has been on the judging panel, to do a video draw where he numbered the names and did a random draw. That draw selected No.5 which was George Hodgson who has won the top prize of VIP tickets and a replica Kings/Royals 2020 shirt."

Kent TouchTec Kings hope to get up and running on their NEW Wednesday evenings at Central Park Stadium as soon as possible and we will keep you updated with developments.

Local Flood Alert In Force Now

Local Flood Alert In Force Now

A Flood Alert has been issued due to the high tide forecast for this afternoon (Sunday 10th May).

The Environment Agency has confirmed that the highest tide level is expected to be at 3:30pm this afternoon. Flooding is possible two hours either side of this time.

They say they are monitoring the situation, though flooding to properties is not expected. The main areas of concern include Faversham and Conyer and response staff are checking flood defences and structures and are prepared to respond if required.

They are advising people to be careful along beaches, promenades, coastal footpaths and roads as large waves and sea spray could be dangerous.

The Environment Agency say they are expecting higher than normal tides over the next 3 days and may be issuing further messages during this time.

For those who need it, the forecast total water height at Sheerness for the 3:30pm Sunday afternoon tide is 3.57m AOD.

McDonalds Set To Re-Open Sittingbourne Branch

McDonalds Set To Re-Open Sittingbourne Branch

McDonalds UK have today announced the 15 stores that are due to re-open next Wednesday (13th May) and they include the Sittingbourne Retail Park branch.

McDonald's Chief Executive, Paul Pomroy, told SFM News that the Sittingbourne branch, which closed in March following the government's implementation of lockdown, will be staffed by a smaller team than usual.

He said: "We will providing all employees with updated training on restaurant cleanliness and sanitisation and the restaurant will be deep cleaned before re-opening".

Perspex screens, floor markings, face masks and thermometer checks will be in place and no members of the public will be allowed into the branch.  ALL orders will have to be ordered through and delivered by Uber Eats or Just Eat and social distancing for delivery drivers will also be implemented.

There will be limited operating hours and menu - with burgers, chicken nuggets, Fillet-o-Fish, fries and the hot drinks range on offer but NO breakfasts initially.


Swale COVID-19 Death Figures Announced

Swale COVID-19 Death Figures Announced

New figures, released by The Office Of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed the number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Kent. 

The report reveals that 205 people had died of coronavirus in the county on or before Friday 10th April – 181 in hospital (88.3%), 16 in care homes (7.8%), 7 at home (3.4%) and 1 in a hospice.

Out of those figures locally here in Swale 18 people have died - 16 in hospital, 1 in a care home and 1 at home. The statistics also show that twice as many people from Medway borough have died compared to anywhere else in the Kent and one in nine deaths occurred outside of hospitals.

Whilst confirmed hospital deaths in the county from the ONS numbers are lower compared to NHS England figures, overall deaths provided by the ONS for England and Wales are far higher than previously reported by the NHS daily figures.

The ONS also says "suspected COVID-19" cases mentioned on a death certificate are included although it may not have been the main cause of death but a contributory factor.

Two Arrested Following 'Mass Gathering'

Two Arrested Following 'Mass Gathering'

Two people have been arrested and enquiries are ongoing following a 'mass gathering' in Sittingbourne.

Approximately 150 people attended a funeral at the Garden of England Crematorium on Sheppey Way in Bobbing on Thursday (16th April) resulting in concerns about social distancing during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Kent Police say that they "received notification of the funeral the evening before it was due to take place" and was therefore unable to speak to those attending to encourage them to adhere to social distancing measures.

As a contingency tey say that "officers maintained a visible presence during the day and looked to strike a balance between allowing those who attended the opportunity to grieve, while protecting the wider community from any potential health concerns".

Chief Inspector Neil Loudon told SFM News: ‘Kent Police was afforded very little notice about this large gathering and as such a decision was made to allow the funeral to go ahead during what was no doubt a difficult time for those who had lost a loved one.

Our offficers' priority was to maintain a presence while offering protection to the wider community around any health concerns they may have had. Those who have been identified as attending the ceremony and not adhering to the public health advice will be contacted in due course and reminded of their personal responsibilities during these unprecedented times.'

During the gathering, which involved large numbers of motorcyclists, some disruptive and anti-social riding was reported and two men aged 24 and 32 were both arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and driving without a licence.

A 17-year-old boy, who was a pedestrian attending the funeral, was also seriously injured when he was involved in a collision with a motorbike in Tonge Road at around 10.40am. Kent Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit has started conducting enquiries in to the circumstances.

Ch Insp Loudon added: "Some serious incidents took place during this gathering which have had an impact not only on those who were involved, but also the wider community.

As a result, there will be an increased presence of police officers in and around Sittingbourne in the coming days and weeks whilst enquiries take place and to provide some local reassurance.

Our investigation continues and where there are clear acts of anti-social behaviour, crime, and persistent breaches of coronavirus legislation then we will seek to identify and prosecute these."



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