Kent MP leads Euro rebellion

Kent MP Mark Reckless led a rebellion of Conservative MPs in defeating the government in a vote on the European Union.

Rochester's Sweeps Festival

Medway celebrates Sweeps Festival

One of the more bizarre May Day celebrations takes place in Kent today. The Sweeps Festival in Rochester is the largest in the country.

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Kent rail station undergoes £147m revamp

Rochester's rail station will be slid almost 40 metres into the air Credit: Network Rail

Rochester train station will be lifted into the air this Easter as part of a £147m scheme to improve the railway line.

The underpass that will be created will provide a public link between Corporation Street, Rochester and river Medway as well as the station's platforms.

Network Rail’s head of communications for London and the South East, Nicky Hughes, said: “The work we are doing at Rochester will result in a fantastic new station and a more reliable railway – however we also realise that the disruption will not be welcome for passengers travelling over Easter.

"We have to do the work when the railway is less busy, and Easter gives us four full days and nights where we can undertake big engineering projects while affecting the least passengers."

Thief with surname Fagg caught by cigarette DNA

A thief with the surname Fagg has been caught by DNA he left on a cigarette.

Duncan Fagg, 36, left the cigarette in a stolen car he crashed in Higham.

Before the smash he was seen driving over the speed limit.

Officers arrested Fagg who was seen walking on crutches after fleeing the scene.

DNA was obtained from a smoked tobacco roll up was found which detectives were able to place Fagg in the stolen car.

Fagg, of St Matthews Way, Rochester, admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and theft of motor vehicle.

He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and disqualified from driving for three years.


Young offenders forced back to the classroom - Clegg

Kent, Rochester, Cookham Wood
Nick Clegg and Chris Grayling at Cookham Wood Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Nick Clegg said that as part of his proposals, young offenders would be forced to go back to the classroom to help them develop skills for when they return to the community.

Currently, young offenders spend on average just 12 hours a week in education. That would be more than doubled.

Additionally a pioneering Secure College will be built in the East Midlands.

The fortified school will provide young offenders with strong discipline, while focusing squarely on rehabilitation and education.

'Better education to stop youth offending' - Clegg on visit to Kent

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has been in Kent to unveil radical plans to tackle youth reoffending.

On a joint visit with the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute in Rochester, he said that better education and training would help with rehabilitation.

Currently, almost three quarters of youth offenders return to crime when they are released.


Thieves close off road and steal pavement slabs

Medway council and Kent Police are appealing for witnesses after Yorkstone paving slabs worth more than £7,000 were reported stolen from Rochester’s historic centre.

It is believed that stolen highways barriers may have been set up to make it look as if legitimate work was being carried out while 40 square metres of paving were dug up at the junction of St Margaret’s Street and Boley Hill on Friday night. The footpath has been temporarily closed.

This appears to be a brazen operation to make it look genuine. It would have taken time and effort to set up and work in this way. It could be very difficult for the council to replace the missing slabs with matching Yorkstone as it is difficult to get hold of. "

– Cllr Phil Filmer, Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services

A 35-year-old man from Chatham has been arrested on suspicion of theft and bailed until 14 January. Anyone who saw any suspicious activity is asked to contact PC Richard Strable of Kent Police on 07980 770496, quoting reference 26-0446.

Short aircraft, long project

Short Scion
The fuselage arrives at Rochester Airport Credit: Robin J Brooks

A rare Short Scion aircraft has arrived at Rochester Airport to undergo a lengthy restoration.

The work will be carried out by the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPSL) Ltd and the fuselage and wings will eventually form part of a fully-restored static aircraft.

MAPS publicity director Robin Brooks provides the following information:

The Scion was a break with tradition for manufacturers the Short Brothers, which specialised in building marine aircraft.

short scion
All that survives of the shell of the aircraft Credit: Robin J Brooks

The five-seater monoplane went into production in the 1930s and although floats were sometimes fitted it was the land-based version that became the preferred model.

A total of 22 Scions - marks I and II - were built, ten at the new factory at Rochester Airfield.

This model is a Scion II G-AEZF.

Built by Pobjoy at the Shorts factory alongside the River Medway, it first flew on December 9 1937. Fitted with floats, it was initially operated by Elders Colonial Airways flying between Bathurst and Freetown in Sierra Leone.

It returned to the UK in November 1941 when it was converted to a land based aircraft to become a civil communications aircraft. Demobilised from the military in 1945 it was used by Air Couriers Ltd until it became surplus to requirements.

It then passed through a number of private owners before acquired by the Historic Aircraft Society at Southend Airport.

Over the years the aircraft slowly deteriorated and was kept at Croydon and then Redhill.

Coming to the notice of MAPS, an agreement was reached whereby the fuselage and wings of Short Scion II G-AEZF have been brought to Rochester Airport and in years to come the Short Scion will become the flagship of MAPS, Rochester Airport and Medway.

REPORT: Fagin, the Copperfields and more celebrate Dickens Festival

He's Rochester's most famous resident, and export, and this weekend author Charles Dickens is remembered along with his famous characters and novels.

It's the annual Rochester Dickens Festival, an event that attracts thousands of people each year, including Dickens' great great grandson Gerald. Derek Johnson meets him and festival actors Ashley Davis, Colin Greenslade, Agnes Whitfield and Peter Homewood.

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