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Friday, 21 February 2020

FREE Bike Marking at Newington Pavilion

Saturday 4th April
10:00am - 1:00pm at Newington Pavilion, ME9 7NH

Upchurch Matters

Swale Borough Council Announces Future Budget for the Upcoming Year

Councillors are being asked to approve an ambitious budget for the upcoming year at the council meeting next week (26th Feb).

This sets out how the council will spend money in the financial year 2020/21 and includes commitments to invest in the council’s new priorities.

Once again, the backdrop is very challenging, with the council seeing its Government funding reduced and major cost pressures in areas such as homelessness.

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of the council, said:

We are proud to present a prudent and realistic budget that recognises the constraints imposed by the current economic environment.

We don’t know what Government funding will be made available after 2020/21, so we must be mindful of this when setting our future budgeting.

Previous budgets have led to too many variances throughout the year that has meant services such as homelessness have suffered, so we have invested over £400,000 into this service.

The new budget also proposes investing an additional £70,000 into staff to tackle homelessness across the borough, £90,000 for free parking at Swallows Leisure Centre and the Sheppey Leisure Complex to encourage people to lead healthy lifestyles, and £40,000 in a new health promotion post.

Our reserves have grown over the years, and whilst we need to keep an appropriate amount in hand, this is residents’ money, and we believe it should be invested to benefit them.

This budget proposes reallocating robust reserves to a wide range of community projects and environmental improvements that will help improve the borough for everyone.

This includes park improvements, recycling bins for bathing beaches, playground equipment, fuel and poverty outreach work, upgrading electric vehicle charging points, Faversham Pool, St Ann’s Footbridge, Harty Ferry Artesian Well, Sheppey Hall, Newington Recreation Ground play area and Painters Forstal Community Hall.

We made £1 million available this year for these special projects around the borough and we plan to continue this and dedicate the same again this year for projects that are important to the community.

We believe that with this budget we can deliver good services to local people, improve facilities, and care for the environment.”

There will be significant investment through the capital programme to improve local services such as new public toilets in Milton Regis, Milton Creek Country Park, Barton Point and Minster Lees totalling over £400,000.

As part of the council’s commitment to improve air quality and address the climate emergency, the council is committing £50,000 over two years to fund the climate change strategy. The council will also replace its main fleet of vehicles with electric or hybrid vehicles to help reduce its own emissions.

The budget also outlines how the council will directly invest into affordable housing within the borough.

Council tax is also proposed to rise by £4.95 a year - less than 10p a week - for Band D properties, bringing the annual cost for our services to £179.37.

Most properties in Swale are on lower bands C and Bs, so will be paying even less for all the services the borough council provides.

The final council tax bill also includes charges Kent County Council, Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and town and parish councils.

The full report on the budget can be read here

Swale Borough Council

Flooded Road Impassable? Not Our Responsibility, Says KCC Flood Management

Photo: Alan Divers.

While many areas of England are sadly experiencing major flooding during the recent excessive weather conditions, our local roads have not been unaffected.

Take Boxted Lane, Newington; it is frequently flooded, and recent heavy rainfall has worsened the problem to the extent that the road is now virtually impassable.

KCC state that “it appears that the grips or channels to drain the water into the field are deliberately blocked by the adjacent landowner”; but in spite of the extensive flooding across the road all they have done is to write to the landowner to “ask him to clear the channels”.

Boxted Lane appears to KCC as a little-used ‘minor’ road, but it is actually frequently used daily by numerous people trying to avoid the A2 at Newington, and as a shortcut between Bobbing, Iwade and Newington to the Medway towns and further. Its use is further increased when the A2 and/or M2 are closed due to an RTC or roadworks. When both the A2 and M2 are closed, Boxted Lane is completely congested.

So what is KCC doing to help the current situation?

Well, the Highways Drainage team apparently believe that the flooding in Boxted Lane “does not meet their criteria for intervention”.

Which leads one to ask, “If a road so badly flooded as to be impassable does not require intervention, then what does?” and “What exactly does KCC’s Flood and Water Management Team actually do, if not to help local people with issues like this?”

Major roadworks diversions are shortly due to take place along the A2, requiring the closure of Newington High Street for several weeks; this will have a major impact on the roads locally and affect the surrounding areas. Boxted Lane will then become gridlocked.

Cllr Richard Palmer, Ward Member for Hartlip, Newington, & Upchurch, and Cabinet Member for Communities, has contacted KCC on several occasions, as he believes this issue should be tackled urgently. He said, "KCC has ignored this issue for years but as our housing numbers increase and our roads become congested at times, so people try to avoid the main routes by using rat runs through country lanes. This is a problem many villages in Kent face but with Boxted Lane at Newington being flooded owing to damaged 'grips/drains' is, in my opinion, a matter KCC should solve. I would hope that KCC would review its policy and reassess Boxted Lane."

For further information, contact Councillor Richard Palmer: 07702 674721

Jill Sidders

We rely on the integrity of the person submitting the article. Any mistakes or concerns should initially be referred to the person whose name is on the article. Articles published in other authors names will be their views and not that of Upchurch Matters. If genuine errors or misleading facts appear in articles posted either in our name or in the name of others, we will seek to correct the post as soon as possible to ensure it is accurate once we are in full possession of the relevant and correct information.

Thank you

Since receiving Jill's article KCC has now put Flood warning signs in place in Boxted Lane.

Upchurch Matters

Keeping Medway Safe is at The Heart of New Task Force

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Strengthening communities and keeping people safe is at the heart of the work carried out by the Medway Task Force.

The multi-agency team includes Kent Police, Medway Council and other partners who all have a common goal to tackle crime, prevent violence and safeguard those most vulnerable in the community.

The task force, which officially launched on Friday 7th February 2020, is working under one roof with officers being deployed as a result of the increase in precept funding, approved by the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.

Together they identify community issues that contribute to crime and focus on long-term solutions to prevent violence. Vulnerable people are protected and given access to the right support to improve their standard of living.

They have already been working together for several months, sharing information, problem-solving, developing partnership solutions and carrying out enforcement activity.

Currently, the team is focused on the Luton area of Chatham and is regularly engaging with residents, schools, businesses and local community groups.

Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said:
The Medway Task Force has an important role to play in focusing on the causes of violent crime in the Medway towns and I’m pleased to see it is already having a positive impact within the community.

The multi-agency team follows on from the success of a similar model we have in Margate, which has been recognised nationally as good practice for its efforts to promote a better quality of life for residents.”

The range of work is diverse and focuses on reducing violent crime, vulnerability and strengthening communities. It has more recently resulted in:
Community protection warnings being issued to people following anti-social behaviour in Luton. These warnings are aimed at preventing this behaviour which, if breached, will see people fined or facing court action.

 Reminding residents of the ways in which they can keep their properties secure after a report of a distraction burglary in Luton. The victim received a visit from a suspicious man claiming to be from the water board. She was found in poor health and was referred to the relevant services to ensure she was supported. This work was carried out to prevent her from being isolated and ensure she is not targeted again.

 Victims of cuckooing, where drug dealers seek out people with addictions, disabilities and other health concerns, being identified and safeguarded by the team.

 The ongoing investigation of four people for illegal waste carrying and fly-tipping in Luton, which has been blighting the community.

The Chief Constable added:
“We know that by working together with our partners under one roof we can be more effective, responsive and achieve positive results.

The officers will continue to work closely with their partnership colleagues to support our ongoing efforts in confronting those who are prepared to use violence whilst also acting as a deterrent to those considering it. This will help us protect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott

Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, said:
“While Kent remains a safe place to live, work and visit, communities have become increasingly concerned about reported rises in violent crime.

So, in 2018, through my Violence Reduction Challenge, I brought key partners together to scrutinise the statistics and consider our joint response. It was during those discussions that the idea of a multi-agency Medway Task Force was first raised.

Kent Police made an early commitment to support the unit with officers funded by my budget decisions. I am delighted to see those officers working closely with our partners to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime.”

Medway Council’s Chief Executive, Neil Davies

Neil Davies, Medway Council’s Chief Executive, said:
“We’re pleased that Medway now has its own task force, which is based at the council offices in Chatham, in the heart of Medway.

Our teams already provide support to residents living in Chatham, Strood, Rainham, Rochester and Gillingham, dealing with a range of matters including fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and fraud.

With all the agencies now working under one roof they can provide a more joined-up and effective response to support communities and deal with the issues which matter most to residents.

We’re committed to making a difference to residents’ lives and supporting our most vulnerable residents, giving them the confidence to safely live independently.”

Kent Community Messaging

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Joan Hitchen 1931 - 2020

Sadly we have to inform you that Joan Hitchen passed away yesterday evening, Wednesday the 19th of  February.

Thank you

Daughters, Jan and Jill

Jill Kean

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Swale Borough Council Grants £20,000 Towards The Play Area at Newington Recreation Ground

Children of all ages will be able to enjoy the refurbished play area at Newington Recreation Ground later this year thanks to a £20,000 grant from Swale Borough Council.

The council’s contribution could help install a wheelchair friendly roundabout, a new trim trail and climbing frame, and create a picnic area for families to enjoy during the warmer months.

The play area already has a floodlit ball court with basketball hoops, teen shelter, slide, see-saw, climbing frame, zip wire, basket swing and four flat-seat swings, plus a sputnik roundabout and two cradle-seat swings for toddlers.

A survey of residents, carried out by the Friends of Newington Recreation Ground, showed people frequently used the popular park but would like to see it modernised with more options for disabled children and wheelchair users.

Cllr Richard Palmer, cabinet member for community at the council, said:

“The Friends of Newington Recreation Ground have been tirelessly raising money to carry out the improvements for the new play area and we are pleased to provide this £20,000 to help them reach their goal.

We make £1 million available every year for special projects around the borough, and important projects like this are a great example of how these grants can make a big difference.

We’re pleased to support the efforts of local people to deliver this project alongside Kent County Council, Newington Parish Council and Friends of Newington Recreation Ground.

This is a wonderful example of what we can achieve when working together as a team.”

Judy Haynes, secretary for the Friends of Newington Recreation Ground, said:

“We are delighted with the support from the council. We’ve raised £40,000 since the process began in 2018 and this additional £20,000 has given us a real boost towards our goal of achieving an exciting, modern and inclusive playground for the residents of Newington.

We asked people what they wanted to see in the play area, and they were clear with us - benches, an accessible roundabout and sensory items were a priority, and more than 50 per cent of survey respondents requested a zip wire.

The parish council installed the zip wire last summer, so we’ll use this money to go to tender and seek bids that can offer us the best solution for the whole village.

We hope the play area will be completed before the end of the year.”

For more information about applying for a grant visit:

Swale Borough Council