Woman cleared of miniature railway death

Contributed by editor on Sep 30, 2004 - 09:39 PM


A woman has been cleared at Maidstone Crown Court of causing death by dangerous driving after the car she was driving collided with a train o­n the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway in August 2003.

Marie Scrace, from Lydd, admitted careless driving,  was disqualified from driving for 12 months and  fined £500.

The accident derailed the locomotive at an unguarded level crossing o­n Burmarsh Road and  train driver Kevin Crouch 31,was crushed  to death.

Gurkhas can stay in UK

Contributed by editor on Sep 30, 2004 - 05:12 PM


Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced today that Gurkhas who have served in the British Army will be able to apply for settlement and then British citizenship o­n completion of their service.

The announcement follows a government review and a campaign by the Gurkha soldiers, many of which are based at Shornecliffe Garrison.

The decision means that the Nepalese solders who leave after more than four years service will be able to apply to stay in the UK and they are expected to be granted citizenship a year later.

The rules do not apply to those discharged from the armed forces before July 1997.

No announcement was made regarding the Gurkha's pensions, which are less that their British counterparts

The Prime Minister said: "The Gurkhas have served this country with great skill, courage and dignity during some of the most testing times in our history.

"They have made an enormous contribution not just to our armed forces but to the life of this country, and it is important their commitment and sacrifice is recognised."

The Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "Throughout their history, the men of the Gurkha Brigade have shown unquestioning loyalty to the Queen and the people of the United Kingdom.

"In battle they have distinguished themselves as brave and  skilful soldiers in all conditions and all terrains. Their 13 Victoria Crosses and numerous other bravery awards speak for themselves.

"I am very keen to ensure that we recognise their role in  the history of our country and the part they have played in protecting us. This is why we have put together the best possible package to enable discharged Gurkhas to apply for settlement and citizenship. I hope that the decision I have made today will make our gratitude clear.

"Those high military standards have been mirrored in their  demeanour in civilian life. Their families too have shown devotion and commitment by travelling across continents to support the Brigade

Police warn businesses of illegal scam

Contributed by editor on Sep 29, 2004 - 10:52 AM


The Police in South East Kent are warning small businesses and independent traders in the area to beware about an illegal scam.

<FONT color=black>A letter has been sent to several businesses from an organisation calling itself: ‘Anti-Money Laundering Support Team’ with an address: Lyme House, 98 Plane Tree Drive, Crewe, Cheshire.

<FONT color=black>It is an official looking letter and states that under The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, each employer is required to ensure they and all their staff are trained, registered and compliant with the Act, or face penalties such as a prison sentence or a fine.

<FONT color=black>The letter asks employers to send a cheque for £75 for each member of staff to be registered.

<FONT color=black>Although businesses do have a duty to let the authorities know if they suspect any cash transaction, there is no legal obligation for them to register under the Act.

<FONT color=black>Cheshire Police have arrested o­ne person in connection with this fraud.

<FONT color=black>If anyone receives a letter asking for cheques to be sent to register under the Proceeds of Crime Act, they should not reply, and should throw the letter away.

Help for P&O workers

Contributed by editor on Sep 29, 2004 - 10:46 AM

<FONT color=black size=4>HELP FOR P&O WORKERS

<FONT color=black>Following the news of hundreds of job losses with ferry company P&O, o­n top of job losses at the end of last year, a partnership of key agencies is stepping into action and working to prepare help for local families.

<FONT color=black>A number of agencies including Dover District Council, Kent County Council, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and Job Centre Plus are working together to prepare to support those facing job losses. This includes plans for setting up special support for people seeking employment, and business support agencies promoting self employment and small business opportunities.

<FONT color=black>Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said: "We are of course saddened by this news and our sympathies are immediately with the families affected by these job losses. This news also has a wider effect o­n the local community, and has a knock o­n effect o­n a wide range of economic factors throughout the area. This includes a range of businesses which are directly and indirectly affected by the port. We are also monitoring hold ups in freight processing which could lead to delays which would affect other local businesses.

<FONT color=black>"A strong local economy requires a wider diversity of job opportunities, which we continue to strive for. To achieve this goal we need to continue to work for upgrades for local road and rail networks, reforms to further education and skills training provision, and continued Government funding for regeneration initiatives. We continue to work with all our partners in the community to address these and other matters, and to work for medium and long term solutions to Dover's employment situation."

Concern grows over missing teenager

Contributed by editor on Sep 28, 2004 - 05:24 PM


Police are anxious to trace a 14 year-old Folkestone girl who has not been seen since 1.30pm o­n 23rd August, 2004.

Rhiannon Stevie Thomas was last seen in Maidstone Road, Ashford.

Police are conducting an investigation into her disappearance, and despite extensive enquiries have failed to find Rhiannon.

She is described as white and 5’2� tall with a fair complexion, dark brown eyes and strawberry blond straight shoulder length hair.

When she was last seen she was wearing a black zip-up cardigan, blue jeans and pink shoes, and has two gold chains, o­ne with a locket, a thumb ring o­n her left hand and rings o­n the finger of her left hand.

It is believed she is living in the Folkestone area, and police would like to speak to anyone who has information about Rhiannon to contact Ashford Police o­n 01233 619167.

Alternatively call Crimestoppers Hotline o­n 0800 555111. Calls to Crimestoppers are free, confidential and you may be eligible for a reward.

P&O slash 1200 jobs

Contributed by editor on Sep 28, 2004 - 11:05 AM


P&O has today announced it is to slash the workforce by 1,200 in a bid to revive its ferry business and it is claimed the rise in tobacco duty in France is contributing  to the loss of 800  jobs in Dover.<IMG alt=Doverport hspace=10 src="" align=left vspace=10 border=0>

Rising competition from no-frills airlines and Eurotunnel has hit passenger numbers, and the increase in French tobacco duty has caused numbers travelling o­n "booze cruises" to fall.

The Dover to Calais ferry route is to be cut from seven to six sailings a day.
Four of its 13 ferry routes are to be lost and there will be  a reduction in the number of ships.

P&O will reduce its fleet by eight ships to 23 with three routes o­n the firm's Western Channel service going; from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, Le Havre and Caen.

The Portsmouth to Bilbao route will stay but the number of ships operating will plummet from six to just o­ne.

On the Irish Sea the service from Rosslare to Cherbourg will be terminated.

Prescott proposes help for first time buyers

Contributed by editor on Sep 28, 2004 - 10:13 AM


Proposals to make better use of public sector land and help first time buyers have been outlined by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Smarter use and driving down spiralling construction costs would help people get o­nto the housing ladder, said John Prescott. Since 2003 the number of first time buyers fell by 27 per cent.

The Deputy Prime Minister believed it would be possible to build a high-quality home for around £60,000.

"I want to challenge our construction industry to achieve that," he said.

The government would work with builders to deliver the homes. The state would retain a stake in the land while the buyer would pay for the bricks and mortar.

Mr Prescott added: "Experience in other parts of Europe tells us that using modern construction techniques and materials, it is possible to produce high-quality, modern homes much more cheaply than is the case in the UK, and without sacrificing environmental standards."

The plan will build o­n existing plans to provide 32,000 homes in mixed communities through low cost home ownership.

Call for Chairman's resignation after assault claims thrown out

Contributed by editor on Sep 27, 2004 - 08:57 PM


<FONT color=black>The parents of three young men accused of assaulting the chairman of Shepway District Council, Cllr Peter Smith, and his wife, Christena, have called for his resignation after the youths were dramatically cleared at Maidstone Crown Court today (Monday).

<FONT color=black>Carl Heynes, 22, Samuel Pearson, 20, and Paul Warman, 20, were all charged with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm following the incident outside the Smiths’ home in Daniels Terrace last August. All three denied the charges.

<FONT color=black>In their evidence to the court the Smiths said they had telephoned the police to report a disturbance in the street outside their house at around midnight o­n August 12th 2003.

<FONT color=black>They telephoned the police again about an hour later to report that a group of youths were having what appeared to be “a very bad disagreement� outside and they were concerned that someone was going to get hurt.

<FONT color=black>They then went outside to speak to the youths and try and calm things down, but the youths followed them back to their house making threats against them and their family, they claimed.

<FONT color=black>Peter Smith said that Heynes hit him from behind and that all three youths then proceeded to rain blows o­n his body, repeatedly punching and kicking him as he lay o­n the ground. His wife was also knocked to the ground but was unable to say who struck her.
But neighbours who witnessed the incident from their windows said that Mrs Smith emerged from her house shouting and swearing at the youths using what o­ne witness described as “disgustingâ€? language.

<FONT color=black>They claimed they saw her hit Heynes around the head with her slipper and that she then appeared to faint and fall to the ground. Mrs Smith admitted hitting someone with her slipper, but o­nly after her husband was attacked and was lying o­n the ground.

<FONT color=black>Another witness said that he saw Peter Smith throw a punch at o­ne of the boys and that, in his view, it was the first punch thrown. Mr Smith denied throwing the first punch and said he couldn’t say if he had thumped anyone or not.

<FONT color=black>“They waded into me and I defended myself,� he said.

<FONT color=black>The mothers of the three young men wept tears of relief when the jury announced its verdict of not guilty.

<FONT color=black>Speaking after the case was over Kim Heynes, Caroline Pearson, Wendy Warman and her husband, Barry, said that the Smiths had behaved disgracefully and should not be allowed to continue to serve o­n the district council.

<FONT color=black>And they said they planned to do everything they could to see Cllr Smith removed from his position as chairman.

Concerns raised over Manston airspace

Contributed by editor on Sep 26, 2004 - 06:12 PM


New budget airlines increase the risk of mid-air collisions, according to a report by air traffic controllers.

<FONT color=black>The UK Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers (GATCO) have said they are concerned about the growing number of airlines that are either planning or have commenced flights from UK airports which previously, had few or no public transport ’airline’ flights.

<FONT color=black>These airports which include Manston in Kent " lack the protection of ‘controlled airspace’ in which all flights are known to air traffic controllers and so are under their positive control " GATCO says.

<FONT color=black>The Guild say they have very serious concerns and questions the apparent lack of safety oversight by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

<FONT color=black>The ‘hotspots’  include:

<FONT color=black>• Kent International Airport (Manston) which operates a new airline, EUjet, set up by a former chief executive of Ryanair. EUjet plans to fly to 21 destinations from Manston using seven Fokker 100s and aims to carry 500,000 passengers in its first year.

• Coventry (West Midlands) Airport and the launch of flights by start-up no-frills carrier Thomsonfly, which started flying to 11 European destinations from Coventry in March. The airline expects to carry 500,000 passengers in its first year.

• Birmingham Airport, where bmibaby has recently announced its intention to serve up to 20 destinations from this Midlands airport, which has no ‘controlled airspace’ linking either Birmingham or nearby Coventry Airport with the UK national airways system to the southwest in the direction of Brecon in South Wales.

• Doncaster/Finningley (‘Robin Hood’) Airport where Thomsonfly plans to serve 17 destinations, whilst the airport’s owners Peel Airports have also negotiated with several holiday companies to begin charter flights next year.

<FONT color=black>GATCO has previously raised concerns about what it perceives to be an unacceptably heightened collision risk to public transport airline flights operating outside controlled airspace.
<FONT color=black>
They point out that most airliners cannot be manoeuvred sufficiently quickly to avoid unexpected conflicting flights such as can arise in uncontrolled airspace.

<FONT color=black>GATCO believes a significant increase in flights resulting from the expansion plans of several airline operators at airports where there is no controlled airspace, or where existing controlled airspace is judged to be less than totally adequate, statistically will result in an increased risk of safety-related incidents.

<FONT color=black>The Guild are calling for a comprehensive independent review.

Hawkinge Neighbourhood Management Partnership - about us

Contributed by editor on Sep 26, 2004 - 12:18 AM


A bit of History

Shepway District Council, o­n behalf of Hawkinge, set up the Partnership in February 2004 following a successful bid to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The funding, which amounts to quite a substantial sum, £2.25m over the next 7 years, is via the Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder Programme.

A number of Pathfinder Programmes are successfully running throughout the country and Hawkinge is unique in Kent in being awarded this money.

Why have we been singled out for this funding and what will it do for Hawkinge?

We are all aware that the explosion of developments in our community has been a mixed blessing for us all. For those of us who are new to Hawkinge it has enabled us to live in a part of Kent, which has outstanding views, good road access to London and the Continent and the promise of an improved rail service to London!

For those who lived here before us incomers arrived, the expansion has brought promises -improvements to the A260, improvements to the village centre,improved health facilities for the village, improved schooling, improved shopping and employment opportunities. So far they have o­nly been promises!

In terms of population, Hawkinge could almost be described as urban, yet we have very few facilities and infrastructure to support a population of that size. I feel confident, however, that the Hawkinge Neighbourhood Management Project will enable these promises to be delivered.

The money that has been allocated to us will not be sufficient to pay for all these promised improvements. However, by working in partnership with agencies and providers we will be able to plan for the future of the village.

Who's o­n the Board

The Board members are drawn from the Parish Council, District Council, County Council, the two schools, the police, various agencies and service providers -social services, the employment service, housing corporations, the countryside agency, and, most important of all the residents of Hawkinge.

I feel very strongly that we, the residents, should be in control of the future of our community -indeed it is for this reason that I joined the board and became its Chair. We live here and together we should take responsibility for our community and ensure that we have all the facilities we need which will improve the quality of our lives.

The Hawkinge Management Board will work very closely with the Parish Council to ensure that we build a strong community identity here in Hawkinge so that in the not so distant future those in Folkestone and surrounding districts look with envy at "the folk who live o­n the hill".

Deirdre Ferguson has been appointed as our Neighbourhood Manager and she is tasked with producing a Delivery Plan that will ensure that the key objectives identified by the Board do actually happen.

What are the key objectives, and how did they come about?

Well they have come from the people of Hawkinge. At the recent Fun Day people were asked to state their 3 wishes for Hawkinge and these, together with the findings of the recent MORI Poll that was undertaken in the village, have been collated.

The objectives focus o­n

....... improving access to services and facilities
....... improving facilities and services for young people and children within Hawkinge
....... ensuring community cohesion -getting the various groups within the village to work to a common goal
....... improving the environment of Hawkinge
....... crime and disorder -ensuring that Hawkinge is a safe and pleasant place in which to live.

The first delivery plan must be lodged with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister by the end of October. But that is not the last time it will be looked at. Throughout the coming year the Board will be mapping the progress of the plan and it will be evaluated and at the end of the year it will be revised. The Delivery Plan, therefore, is a dynamic document, which will reflect the changing needs of the Hawkinge Community.

What have we done so far?

Some organisations within Hawkinge have already benefited from the Community Chest Grants for groups and organisations based in Hawkinge. We have put £10,000 into this chest and will give grants up to £750 until such time as the chest has been emptied. The money is not available to companies who distribute a profit, or to statutory bodies, other than the Parish Council the schools, or the health bodies.

We have had successful applications from a number of groups -The Football Club, the Cricket Club, Hawkinge Short Mat Bowls Group, the Parish Council. The pot is not empty -so I would urge Group Leaders to access this fund. For further details please contact Deirdre Ferguson.

Deirdre is temporarily based at Shepway District Council.

I mentioned the Fun Day earlier, and I know that although many people enjoyed the day, others have said we didn't know anything about it -we would have liked to have been involved.

This was the first Fun Day. In the future Deirdre will work with the many organisations and groups within Hawkinge to ensure that the next Fun Day is bigger and better!

Where will we be based?

Finally -watch the space next to Tesco! We plan to site our Neighbourhood Office o­n that vacant plot and it will become a o­ne-stop shop for residents of Hawkinge to access some of the services we are currently missing.

Jan Doyle

Chair- Hawkinge Partnership