Gillingham

England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Stroke centres closure approved

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Patients will be “desperately let down” by a transformation of the way stroke sufferers are treated in Kent, according to a county councillor, after his colleagues gave the go ahead for the NHS to close three hospital units.

Stroke centres in Tunbridge Wells, Margate and Medway, will be closed following the decision by members of the Kent County Council health overview and scrutiny committee.

Councillors narrowly passed a motion to build three specialist hyper-acute stroke units in Maidstone Hospital, Darent Valley Hospital, in Dartford, and William Harvey Hospital, in Ashford, to treat patients across the county.

However the committee outlined concerns that closing the stroke units in Tunbridge Wells, Margate and Medway could impact travel times, staffing levels over the long-term and increase inequalities.

Six councillors voted against the plans to accept the reconfiguration, including former Swale Borough Council leader Andrew Bowles.

He said: “There has been a continual drift towards downgrading services to the east end of the county.

“I cannot be convinced of this even though I would like to do what is right for the majority of my residents.”

Today's local news website headlines

Newspaper (generic)
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Kent Online: Self-harm at record level in Rochester Prison

The Argus: Lion and Lobster pub in Brighton to host beach themed street party

Get Surrey:Cystic fibrosis University of Surrey student studying to find a cure for her condition

Hastings Observer: Historic buses roll into Hastings

Mid Sussex Times:Warning over toxic caterpillars across Sussex which can cause a painful rash

Chichester Observer:Chichester community spaces given a £19,000 funding boost

Worthing Herald:Shoreham Airshow Memorial: Pictures show the story so far as the 11 arches are erected

West Sussex County Times:Thieves steal village brownie pack’s scarecrow

Brighton & Hove Independent:Fundraisers abseil for Blind Veterans UK

Eastbourne Herald: Road closed for more than five hours after serious accident on A27 Pevensey Bypass

Brighton and Hove News:Planning inspector overrules council on seven shared houses in Brighton

Cash machine stolen in Gillingham

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Kent Reliance at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre
@Media999E

A digger has been used to steal a cash machine from a shopping centre in Gillingham.

It was stolen from outside Kent Reliance at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre at around 03:15 BST earlier.

A second cash machine was removed and left at the scene.

The digger was recovered from a field off Hempstead Valley Drive.

No arrests have been made.

ATM outside Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre
@Media999E

'Do not approach' murderer on the run

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Police are warning people not to approach a convicted murderer, who has gone missing.

Joseph Bagley, who is 66, was jailed for killing a taxi driver in 1978.

Joseph Bagley
Surrey Police
Police say Joseph Bagley has links to Surrey and Kent

He had been living in Maidstone after his release on licence for life, and was last seen in the town on Sunday morning.

He failed to return for his curfew.

He has links to Kent, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Scotland, and detectives say anyone who sees him should call 999.

I believe that he could lash out if he feels threatened, or that he is going to be returned to prison, so I am asking the public not to approach him."

Detective Inspector Mark ParrySurrey Police

Council criticised for not reviewing school transport policy

Medway Council has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for failing to review its home to school transport policy following an earlier complaint.

The complaint involved the council not providing school transport to a girl whose mother chose to send her to a school which was not her nearest qualifying school.

The council said it would not provide transport even though the girl would not have been given a place at the nearest school, had her parents chosen it.

The ombudsman found the council at fault for not amending its policy following the recommendations he made in the earlier investigation in 2016.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said the council should take action "to ensure other children in its area are not disadvantaged by its incorrect policy".

The council had agreed to pay for the girl’s transport costs since September 2017 because the school she attends is now the nearest due to a route change.

The ombudsman said it should continue to provide transport for the daughter to her current school, and reimburse her mother for the costs she incurred back to September 2016, along with interest on her transport costs.

It should also pay her mother £100 to remedy the injustice caused by the delay in undertaking the previously agreed settlement.

Today's local news website headlines

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Kent Online: HGV trainer still going strong aged 82

The Argus: Daredevil risks his life as he scales high-rise crane for 'selfie'

Get Surrey: Record numbers of people being admitted to Surrey hospitals due to being obese

Hastings Observer: Hastings man guilty of dangerous driving

Mid Sussex Times: Gatwick Gary: Man abandoned as a baby at airport finally traces birth parents

Chichester Observer: Sussex father's shock after catching a 2ft-long rat in his back garden

Worthing Herald: Southwick allotment holder in land dispute with ‘totally irresponsible’ council

West Sussex County Times: Warning over toxic caterpillars in Horsham area

Brighton & Hove Independent: New Labour leader elected in Brighton and Hove

Eastbourne Herald: Serious decline in performance’ at Lewes Prison despite special measures

Brighton and Hove News: CCTV released in bid to catch motorbike thieves

Missing teenager not seen since Saturday

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Jessica Bitmead
Family handout

Jessica Bitmead, 17, was last seen in Medway at about 20:00 BST on Saturday.

She is about 5ft tall with a slim build, long brown hair and brown eyes.

She was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black jacket.

She is known to frequent Kent, London and Essex using the rail network to travel around.

PC Martin Brown from Kent Police said: "We are concerned for Jessica’s safety and urge anyone with information about where she might be to contact us."

Safety concerns for missing Dartford teen

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Oluwatimilehin Alabi
Family handout

Oluwatimilehin Alabi, 17, was last seen in the Dartford area at 08:00 BST on Friday .

He is believed to have links with the London area.

PC Mark Graham, of Kent Police’s Missing & Child Exploitation Team said: "We are concerned for Oluwatimilehin’s safety and we would urge anyone with information as to his whereabouts to contact us."

He is between 5ft 6in and 5ft 7in tall, of medium build, has brown eyes and black hair with highlights.

He was last seen wearing a grey Adidas tracksuit, a white T-shirt with red sleeves, a Nike black cross bag and black Nike trainers.

Almost a third of children need MMR booster

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

A baby catches measles from somebody who did not have the vaccine
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Nearly a third of children in Kent need their measles vaccination booster, figures show.

The World Health Organisation states 95% need to be vaccinated with the MMR jab to ensure the highly infectious disease does not spread.

Director for Public Health in Kent, Andrew Scott-Clark, said uptake of these vaccinations is “critical” to protect vulnerable people.

He noted people expressed concerns about the jab on social media.

However, claims the MMR vaccine causes autism have been disproved and the doctor who made the conclusions also struck off.

The vaccine has been proven not to cause autism
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There have been three confirmed cases of measles since January, which were all linked to travel.

Consultant in health protection at Public Health England South East, Dr Claire Winslade, urged parents to check the immunity of their family - especially before going on holiday.

“Children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine for maximum protection," she added.

Kent council makes £1m from road closures

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Road closed sign
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Kent County Council makes £1m per year from utility companies closing roads.

Companies are charged a daily rate of up to £2,000 for disrupting traffic on busy roads or during rush-hour.

The scheme is intended to improve planning, encourage companies to arrange repairs outside of peak periods, and incentivise work being completed as quickly as possible.

If businesses only plan to close a lane, this fee is reduced to between £300 and £800.

Southern Water paid to close Horn Street in Folkestone for four months to upgrade the local sewer.

Councillor Martin Whybrow said: "It was looking to be a very long closure for a pretty fundamental road, it was done much quicker than intended and I think it was very much welcomed by residents."

New approach to tackle gang exploitation

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Kent County Council is set to team up with the NHS and police in a bid to safeguard children from being exploited by gangs.

It comes after a review found the current process does not “work effectively” and should be abolished.

Going forward health professionals and the force will attend council meetings which discuss the safety of vulnerable children.

KCC has also launched a new programme for social care called Change for Kent Children which will target “at risk” young people.

Knife crime stock
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It is hoped this will reduce county lines gangs and knife crime.

Councillor Michael Northey said: "Where family relationships have broken down, gang membership gives young people a sense of belonging.

“Of course they are being exploited."

Kent failing children with special educational needs

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Teacher and pupil (generic)
BBC

Top council officials have apologised following a “distressing” Ofsted report for children with special educational needs.

Kent County Council cabinet member Roger Gough, corporate director Matt Dunkley and Glenn Douglass from Kent clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) shared their regrets about the “poor” services provided for the vulnerable children.

Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found “too many" young people do not get the support they need.

Inspectors wrote that parents and guardians “are rightly upset, angry and concerned".

Mr Gough said: “This is very distressing.

“That’s a dangerous reality and this is something we come across all the time."

The report detailed how some schools in the county are not “willing” to accommodate young people who need extra help.

Mr Dunkley said mainstream schools must provide services for these children, as not all pupils require specialist schools.

Every child with a special education needs is evaluated for an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP), which outlines the support need.

Inspectors also found 61% of parents and carers in Kent do not receive their plans within the legal 20-week time frame.

Today's local news website headlines

Newspapers (generic)
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KentOnline: Thieves steal hundreds of pounds from Wildwood Discovery Park near Canterbury

The Argus: The Old Market and Brighton Women's Centre team up

GetSurrey: Staines school to scan pupils for knives following rise in knife crime

Hastings Observer: Wet and windy start to day in Hastings and Rother

Mid Sussex Times:Burgess Hill town centre redevelopment: Residents invited to open day

Chichester Observer: Goodwood pilots to fly silver spitfire around the world

Worthing Herald: Adur Repair Cafe set for launch in Shoreham

West Sussex County Times: Broadbridge Heath bypass closes as downgrade begins

Brighton & Hove Independent: Trainlines between Worthing and Littlehampton blocked after person hit by a train - Chichester lines also affected

Eastbourne Herald: New drug cabinet provided to DGH by Eastbourne charity

Brighton and Hove News: Vine Street restaurant given alcohol licence despite neighbour concerns

Two-party politics in Medway

Caroline Williams

Political reporter

At the end of a long night of counting, both Labour and the Conservatives are claiming a sort of victory in Medway.

Leader of the council Alan Jarrett, though disappointed at the few losses the Conservatives experienced, saw the result as a vindication of the way he and his group has run the council and the fact that he has distanced himself from the national party.

No-one who ever heard him speak could have been in any doubt about his dissatisfaction with the way the national party was handling Brexit. For Mr Jarrett though, the low turnout was a concern.

Meanwhile leader of the Labour group Vince Maple was quietly pleased with his party’s result. They would have liked to do better, but with five extra councillors, there’s a consolidation of Labour’s position on the council.

It’s their best council result since 1997, but with a couple of near-misses in some seats, he couldn’t help but rue the ones that got away.

Medway has to all intents and purposes returned to two-party politics with UKIP gone from the council, and only a couple of independents.

When are your local council results due back?

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Election count in Tandridge
BBC

Overnight we have seen the Tories lose overall control in Tandridge, Surrey.

In Kent, the Conservatives have lost control of Folkestone and Hythe but the party has held Medway and Dartford.

These are the estimated results times for each county in the South East:

Kent

  1. Maidstone 12:45
  2. Dover District 13:00
  3. Ashford 14:00
  4. Thanet 14:00
  5. Sevenoaks 15:30
  6. Swale 15:30
  7. Tonbridge & Malling 16:00 -18:00
  8. Canterbury City 17:00
  9. Tunbridge Wells 17:00
  10. Gravesham Borough 18:00

East Sussex:

  1. Eastbourne 16:00
  2. Rother 16:00
  3. Brighton & Hove 17:00
  4. Lewes 17:00
  5. Wealden 17:00

West Sussex

  1. Worthing 11:00
  2. Chichester 12:00
  3. Crawley 16:00
  4. Horsham 16:00
  5. Arun 16:00
  6. Mid Sussex 19:00

Surrey

  1. Mole Valley 15:00
  2. Woking 15:00
  3. Spelthorne 15:00
  4. Reigate and Banstead 16:30
  5. Waverley 18:00
  6. Runnymede 18:00
  7. Elmbridge - Unsure

Sawn-off shotgun and cocaine seized

A man is due in court after a sawn-off shotgun and a "large quantity" of cocaine were seized in Gillingham, Kent Police said.

A property in Hillyard Close was searched on Tuesday morning.

A 32-year-old man from Gillingham was arrested and charged with possessing a firearm without a certificate and possessing cocaine with intent to supply.

He is due to appear at Medway Magistrates' Court later.

Three children among migrants detained near M25

Three children were among 13 Iranian migrants detained by immigration officials at a service station on the M25.

A group of people were filmed climbing out the back of a lorry in Clacketts Lane.

Police and Immigration Enforcement officers were called to the scene.

The Home Office said: "Thirteen Iranian nationals were taken into custody. They will be interviewed by immigration officers and their cases will be dealt with according to the immigration rules."

Clacketts Lane service station
Simon Buckingham