News & Politics Podcasts

The top stories from the KentOnline news team


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The top stories from the KentOnline news team







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Podcast: Locked-out OAP charged £1600 by 'rouge trader' to get back inside own home

A pensioner left locked out of her home in the dark believes she was ripped off by a “rogue trader” who charged a staggering £1,600 to get her into the property. The Ashford woman paid the eye-watering bill after being told the job had been carried out at the “going rate”. Also in today's podcast, a Strood family of three made homeless after a blaze destroyed their home of 14 years say they have “lost everything”. They are now living in temporary accommodation after their garden shed caught alight and spread to the house. A court has heard how a father-of-three attacked a drunken man who smashed his car windscreen while he was sat in traffic with his family. The 30-year-old lost his rag after shards of glass showered his partner and children when they were stuck in a queue in Sittingbourne. As the government's struggle to get the Rwanda Bill though continues, the KentOnline Podcast has heard from a Margate artist about a new exhibition including work done by young refugees. Called 'Leave to Remain', it's a collaboration with the Kent Refugee Action Network. And in cricket, it's a big test for Kent tomorrow as they host last years winners Surry in the County Championship. You can hear from head coach Matt Walker about their tactics after coming away with a draw against Essex.


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Podcast: Staff 'tried their best' to save the life of 12-year-old girl who suffered asthma attack at Medway school

An inquest into the death of a 12-year-old girl who suffered a severe asthma attack at a Medway school has heard how staff did their best to save her life. Pearl Unu-Arubi went into cardiac arrest at Rochester Grammar School in March last year. Also in today's podcast, a Kent MP has weighed into the debate about introducing a smacking ban. Doctors have warned the current laws are "dangerously vague" and changes would help crack down on child abuse. More than £150,000 pounds is thought to have been lost to ticket scams in Kent. Among those being targeted by fraudulent tickets are Taylor Swift fans as the singer’s UK tour dates edge closer. Developers behind plans for a 92-bed town centre hotel have pulled down hoardings around the site as the project has been stalled by water quality issues. The wooden boundary was put up in Ashford just two months ago ahead of the demolition of a row of shops that currently occupies the plot. And an iconic Kent seafront bandstand turns 100 today, but there are questions over its future. The Herne Bay structure needs structural repairs, but council say they don't have the money to fix it.


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Podcast: Chatham man who tried to set fire to police station warned staff "it's going to burn"

A would-be arsonist who tried to set fire to a police station by pouring accelerant over a front counter and throwing a lit rag later admitted he had been having "an off day". He'd had gone to Medway police station armed with a jar filled with flammable fluid. Also in today's podcast, two teenagers have been arrested in connection with the death of a motorcyclist after police pursued a driver on the M25. Kent Police officers chased the vehicle over the Dartford Crossing on Sunday night before it became involved in a crash. There are calls for the government to step in and put an end to long drawn out plans for a “Dartford Disneyland” once and for all. Proposals for the £2.5bn London Resort project were first mooted in 2012 - the town's MP, council leader and local businesses are among those who now say “enough is enough”. Today is the day when families across Kent and Medway will be finding out which primary school their children will start at come September. More than 9 in 10 got their first choice, but the KentOnline Podcast spoke to a family law specialist from Maidstone about what people can do if they're unhappy. And, a new rock bar has been granted an alcohol and live music licence despite neighbours’ fears the noise will leave them “prisoners” in their own homes. The venue in Dover could welcome heavy metal lovers to a unit formerly used as an escape room by mid-summer.


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Podcast: Fears 'do-not-swim' warning at two Kent beaches could be in place for years

Seafront traders thrown into “turmoil” by do-not-swim warnings on two Kent beaches fear they could remain in place for years. The water on the Romney Marsh has been found to contain high levels of a bacterium that indicates the presence of human faeces. Also in today's podcast, a Maidstone mum has been left stunned after all her possessions were moved to a storage unit more than 60 miles away after a vehicle ploughed into her home. Allana Spencer is currently living in temporary accommodation with her young daughter after their house suffered extensive damage. A popular music festival held in memory of a murdered in Medway will be coming to an end this year. Molly McLaren was killed in June 2017 in the car park of the Dockside Outlet shopping centre by her ex-boyfriend. A family-run garden centre that was put on the market last year for £5 million has been sold to new owners with fresh plans. They'll be working to open a mini golf course and a nursery alongside the existing complex. And in football, you can hear from the Gillingham boss after their League 2 win over the weekend. Stephen Clemence says he's pleased to see a reaction from his squad after they faced criticism.


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Podcast: Grandmother's foot amputated after four day wait in hospital corridor

A 78-year-old woman had to have her lower leg amputated after her family claim she was left on a trolley in a hospital corridor for four days. She was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital with a foot infection on Good Friday which developed into sepsis. Also in today's podcast, a Rainham teacher has shared his incredible story as part of a campaign from Air Ambulance Charity Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The dad-of-three says his bedroom was turned into a makeshift operating theatre after he collapsed out of bed at four o’clock in the morning. The owners of an iconic country house-turned-hotel have unveiled plans for an ambitious expansion. Bosses at the Canterbury venue want to make it "desirable all year round” to attract more people to the county. There's delight for Kent Wimpy fans with one restaurant set to reopen later this year There were fears the sight would close for good after the franchisee stepped down after 30-years in charge. And you can hear from the Gillingham boss ahead of their clash with Barrow this weekend. The play off places are almost impossible for the Gills at this point but Stephen Clemence says he hasn't given up hope.


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Podcast: New parking charges are so "ridiculous" residents they thought it was an April Fools

Motorists are up in arms about a hike in car park charges considered so “unreasonable” many believed it was an April Fool’s prank. Residents in Herne were previously able to park for a whole day for just £2.20, but that all came to an end when new tariffs were introduced on April 1st. Also in today's podcast, a new report has found 15 percent of Kent Police officers want to leave the force within the next two years. Almost 7 in 10 don't feel valued - and even more wouldn't recommend it as a job. Stab-proof vests have been handed to cleaners at a Kent shopping centre as part of their everyday uniform to help keep them safe. A spokesman for the precinct says stab vests are becoming commonplace in shopping centres with many people coming out in support of the move. The local authorities in Kent and Medway have unveiled which routes will get a chunk of reallocated government cash for road repairs. It comes as bosses in the Medway Towns have written to the government asking for even more funding to fix potholes. And a huge leisure complex could be built on land previously earmarked for an Amazon warehouse. David Lloyd Leisure wants to build its third site in Kent on Waterbrook Park in Ashford, creating up to 100 new jobs.


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Podcast: Thanet Dad with agonising back pain overdosed on prescription medication

An inquest has heard a dad-of-two with an agonising back injury was found dead in bed after unintentionally overdosing on painkillers. The 31-year-old was discovered unresponsive by his heartbroken partner at their home in Birchington last November. Also in today's podcast, one year on from a landslide which closed a major road, residents and businesses have been left counting the financial, emotional and physical costs. The A226 Galley Hill Road in Swanscombe collapsed and people living nearby are desperately demanding action. An alarming survey has revealed more than half of staff at a Kent NHS trust would not be happy for a loved one to be treated there. In what bosses admit is a “shocking indictment” of the organisation, just 45% of workers at East Kent Hospitals are content with the “standard of care”. Controversial ventilation units ruining one of the most iconic views in Britain are set to be moved. The rooftop equipment was installed as part of a new medical school run by Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) in the city’s North Holmes Road. And hear from a 75-year-old glass merchant from Rainham celebrating 60 years in the glazing business. He's worked for the same company since he left school and says he has no plans to retire.


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Podcast: Tributes to "kind hearted" man who died after Chatham town centre attack

The family of a "kind-hearted and much-loved” man who died after a town centre assault have said they will fight for justice. The 33-year-old was put on life-support after being attacked twice within the space of two days in Chatham. Also in today's podcast, fire crews have been called out to a number of blazes in Kent in the last 24 hours. Sadly a cat has died in one house fire in Canterbury which is believed to have been started accidentally. A decade-long battle to get a landowner to clear up his farmland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is facing yet another delay. Maidstone council first started enforcement action over the 14-hectare plot after it found the land littered with broken vehicles and waste. The KentOnline Podcast has been told more companies should employ people with learning difficulties - after a social media post of a Sheppey woman went viral. Shelley Harris has Down's syndrome and was pictured learning her role at Asda in Sittingbourne. And damning comments about one of Kent’s up-and-coming towns have sparked debate - after visitors called it dirty and run-down. It comes less than a month after The Sunday Times described the seaside town as the best place to live in the south east of England.


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Podcast: Parents call for new non-selective school in Cranbrook so children don't face 10 mile journeys

Parents in part of Kent are demanding a new non-selective secondary school to save their children a 10-mile commute. Currently there isn't a non-grammar in Cranbrook, so pupils are faced with long journeys every day. That's led to mums and dads setting up a campaign group. Also in today's podcast, there's major disruption to rail services in Kent today as train drivers are out on strike. Members of the ASLEF union have been in a dispute with employers over pay since July 2022. We've been getting reaction from Southeastern. The man who wants to be the next Labour MP in Dover says the government has left it too late to avoid chaos at the town's Port when new biometric checks come in. The EU digital border controls are due to be introduced this Autumn and would see manual passport stamps replaced with facial imaging and fingerprinting. Today marks four weeks since the start of controversial road works in Medway - and local bosses have told the podcast they're pleased with how traffic's coping. The A228 in the Strood-bound direction from the Sans Pareil roundabout has been closed since March 11 and won't reopen until June so the entrance to a new school can be built. Parking charges are going up in another part of Kent as bosses look to create more revenue to avoid cutting services elsewhere. Tonbridge and Malling councillors have voted in favour of introducing a fee at sites in Aylesford and Larkfield to bring them in line with the rest of the borough. Residents in Stodmarsh say a stretch of road leading into their village could be one of the worst in Kent. Drivers say years of neglect have left Stodmarsh Road full of potholes, with uneven surfaces and water retention. In sport, Gillingham's hopes of reaching the league two play-offs are all but over after they suffered another defeat at the weekend. They were beaten 1-0 at Bradford City to drop to 11th in the table. We've been getting reaction from head coach Stephen Clemence and player Connor Mahoney.


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Podcast: Dover man who thought girlfriend was cheating swapped her medication for laxatives

A dad-of-five who suspected his long-term girlfriend was cheating on him swapped her medication for laxatives. He was caught creeping into the kitchen on a CCTV camera the couple had installed at their Dover home. Also in today's podcast, a Marden dad shares his near-death experience as part of the Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex Buy if for Life appeal. Warren Porritt had just minutes to live after he was involved in a near-fatal crash on Father’s Day in 2016. Commuters have expressed their delight at the return of a “priceless" park and ride - although critics still believe it is a waste of money. The KentOnline Podcast has spoken to some of the people who have been using the service since it was reinstated. A traffic-free zone is to be set up around another school as part of a trial aimed at making streets safer for children. It follows “volatile and aggressive” exchanges outside the primary school in Dartford. And in football you can hear from the Gillingham boss ahead of their make-or-break match against Bradford City. The Gills need to win all of their remaining fixtures to have any hope of making it to the League 2 play offs.


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Podcast: Inquest hears more details about death of soldier Charlie Saywell after body found in River Medway in Chatham

A coroner has revealed a soldier whose body was found in the River Medway after a night out may have suffered a “violent or unnatural death”. 25-year-old Charlie Saywell was discovered trapped under a boat last month, and had rope around his legs and torso. A Medway mum says more needs to be done to improve services for children with special education needs. A report by Ofsted this week has found many are still waiting too long to be assessed, with inconsistent experiences and outcomes. Campaigners are celebrating after Folkestone flats they branded “horrendous” were snubbed following 300 comments of opposition. The proposals for 20 flats were rejected by council bosses but the firm behind the bid tried to do it anyway. The owners of The Pet Shop in Sittingbourne have been telling us how they have managed to stay open for thirty years. Victor Brobyn has been in business since 1994 and has sold all sorts of animals from bearded dragons to rabbits and birds. JB Gill from JLS has been on our sister radio station kmfm ahead of their concert at Dreamland in Margate. The boy band will be playing on July 6th as part of the Summer series. And in cricket, Kent’s head coach Matt Walker has been telling us about his plans for the new season. Their first county championship match against Somerset gets underway tomorrow.


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Podcast: Tributes to cyclist who died in a freak accident near Tenterden

A heartbroken family has paid tribute to their “adventurous” dad and husband after a fatal cycling accident near Tenterden. The 65-year-old was knocked off his bike by a car door and died in hospital just days later. Also in today's podcast, eyewitnesses have described the “scary” moment a huge shed blaze destroyed their neighbour’s garden and threatened to engulf their homes too. Firefighters now believe the blaze started accidentally due to an electrical fault within a shed. Hear from residents who are calling for action to be taken to improve a “dangerous” zebra crossing close to three schools. Drivers have been accused of constantly ignoring people attempting to cross the road in Dartford. We're being warned to expect disruption on a key route through Kent, ahead of three weeks’ worth of closures. The link between Faversham and Ashford is set to be intermittently closed later this month for maintenance work. And McDonald’s could return to a Kent town as bosses have earmarked a former leisure centre site for a new drive-thru. Burger giant bosses there is now a “long-standing need” for one of its venues in the area.


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Podcast: Doubt over plans for new GP surgery at Bell Road in Sittingbourne following concerns about rent costs

Plans for a state-of-the-art medical centre in Sittingbourne are up in the air after concerns were raised over the cost of the rent. The new facility in the Bell Road development would serve an additional 6,000 patients, but NHS bosses say the scheme needs further work. Also in today’s episode, official figures show a record number of asylum seekers have crossed the Channel in small boats during the first quarter of this year. 791 people made the dangerous journey over the Easter weekend, taking the total for 2024 so far to 5,435. There has been a rise in vehicle thefts across Kent, with police data showing which makes and models are stolen the most. An expert has been telling us why certain vehicles are more popular with thieves, and why recovery rates have gone down. An appeal has been launched to raise £1 million to buy the air ambulance that covers Kent. The charity that runs the life-saving service say they need the cash by the end of May. A mum who was left bed-bound after being collapsing at Disneyland says her medical detection dog has helped her enjoy life again. Candy Adams from Istead Rise started fainting while on a family holiday in 2016 and was eventually diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome. And in football, the Gillingham boss has apologised to fans after yesterday's 5-1 defeat. Their chances of reaching the leage 2 play-offs have been badly damaged after they lost to Harrogate Town away from home.


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Podcast: Hawks brought in to scare seagulls away from luxury apartments on Folkestone beach

People behind a multi-million pound seafront development in Folkestone are using hawks to scare away seagulls. We're told it's to prevent them from nesting when they can become territorial and aggressive. Also in today's podcast, we're bring warned to expect delays this long weekend as millions of people get away for the Easter holidays. Figures from the AA show travel is set to peak on Saturday - with more than 18 million of us taking to the roads. We've been speaking to the Kent and Medway Resilience Forum to find out how they're preparing. There are also concerns a new entry exit system due to come into force this Autumn will cause further delays at the Port of Dover. Bosses have been meeting with local traders to explain what measures they're putting in place. As council tax bills start to land on doormats across Kent, residents in two areas might be shocked to see a significant increase. Bobbing and Hartlip parish councils have upped their part of the payment by as much as 173% - we've been getting reaction. Chatham's MP is taking on a cycle ride later to raise money for the Kent Air Ambulance. Tracey Crouch is joining the dad of a young woman from her constituency who died in a crash two years ago. This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the closure of Chatham Dockyard. For more than 400 years it was the heart of north Kent, employing generations of skilled workers. In sport, Gillingham start the long Easter weekend with a game at Priestfield tomorrow afternoon. They'll hope to make it a run of three games without a defeat as they welcome Crewe Alexandra. We've been catching up with head coach Stephen Clemence and owner Brad Galinson.


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Podcast: Sittingbourne residents "trapped" in their homes due to endless gridlock

People living in Sittingbourne say they feel trapped in their homes as roads works and new housing developments cause daily congestion. They're caught in the crossfire as the government set housing targets leaving local authorities to deal with the consequences. Also in today's podcast, thousands of NHS dental procedures have been cancelled in Medway over the last two years with more than 1.1 million not performed. It comes as half of all dentists based in the Towns say they won’t do any more NHS work due to financial pressures, “too much bureaucracy” and difficulty with recruiting and retaining staff. A dead rat has been found decomposing in the kitchen of a popular sushi restaurant in Canterbury. They were forced to stop service immediately and given a damning one-star food hygiene rating. Swalecliffe has been named as one of the places in the county most affected by sewage spills in the last 12 months. New figures from the Environment Agency show there were more than 11 spills there - you can hear from Sally Burtt-Jones from SOS Whitstable. And a Kent couple who are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary share their secrets to a long and happy marriage. Ron and Phyllis Wills say they've barely spent a day apart since they met in 1953.


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Podcast: Police called to Kent school twice in a week as anti-social group intimidates pupils

Police have been called to a school twice in one week amid concerns over a group of young people intimidating pupils in the area. The secondary’s head teacher has now written to parents saying it is not the only local school that the group is targeting. Also in today's podcast, activists have blockaded access points into a Kent weapons factory by lying across the road and locking themselves to gates. Eight pro-Palestine protestors claim they have “successfully shutdown” the site in Sandwich they say is sending military equipment to Gaza. More than 5,000 fare-dodgers a month are being hit with bumped-up £100 fines by Southeastern for not buying a rail ticket. The train company revealed it received nearly £2.5m last year from penalty fares given to commuters who failed to purchase a valid ticket. The boss of a barber shop destroyed just days before it was set to open says he is more determined than ever to make the business a success. The business in Hythe High Street was left with its windows smashed in and frames knocked down after a car reportedly hit the front of the property. And Papa Johns is to shut 43 restaurants across the UK including two in Kent. The takeaway business confirmed plans to axe the “underperforming” locations after launching a review at the start of the year.


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Podcast: Inquest hears fatal crash on A20 near Farningham which killed two friends from Tonbridge was 'unavoidable'

An inquest has been held into the deaths of two young men following a crash on the A20 near Farningham. Jake Green and Alfie Green were friends who worked together. Police have charged a 12-year-old boy with attempted murder following a stabbing in Sittingbourne. A 15 year-old girl was taken to a London hospital after she was injured on Adelaide Drive on Friday. Reporter Joe Crossley has been to the scene. A coroner's found the death of a Sittingbourne mum could have been prevented if her cancer diagnosis hadn't been delayed . 44-year-old Kerri Mothersole died in 2022 and an investigation found reports from a Kent ultrasound clinic weren't passed on to doctors. Her son Jordan has spoken out. The boss of a cancer charity in Herne Bay says he's having to close his shop because of shoplifting and a drop in donations. Graeme Sergeant runs the Chemotherapy Cancer Project which supports patients going through treatment. The Dartford council leader is calling on transport bosses to 'get on' with building the new Lower Thames Crossing. The tunnel would link Gravesham and Essex, reducing congestion elsewhere, but estimates say it won't open until 2030. More than 30 shopping trolleys have been pulled from the river Medway during a clean-up operation. Water levels in Tonbridge have been lowered for five weeks as part of yearly repairs and maintenance. A 12-year-oldboy from Ashford is preparing for the trip of a lifetime - all thanks to his passion for Pokémon. Harrison Holden-Smith is so good at the card game he's currently ranked 12th in the UK - and 37th in Europe. Later this year, he'll be travelling to Hawaii for the World Championships. And in sport, and it was a fantastic three points on the road for Gillingham at the weekend. They came from behind twice to beat Morecambe 3-2 on Saturday.


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Podcast: Owners of funfair move on to green belt near M25 due to "overcrowded" Traveller sites

A family of Show People say they have no choice but to continue living on green belt land as they cannot find space on the county’s “overcrowded” Traveller sites. They've applied to change the use of land near the M25 to create permanent quarters for the 25 adults and 12 children to pitch on. Also in today's podcast, the University of Kent has confirmed six courses are set to be cut, following a consultation. Undergraduates at the campuses in Canterbury and Chatham who will see the subjects “phased out” over the next years say they are devastated. A court has heard how a cowardly thug dragged his girlfriend along Herne Bay pier and threatened to throw her into the sea during a campaign of controlling abuse. He subjected his partner to coercion and sometimes violence, which culminated in the harrowing ordeal on the town’s landmark, during which he asked her: “Can you swim?” Fears of “traffic Armageddon” have been sparked by plans to build a 300-home estate and huge secondary school on the outskirts of Whitstable. Proposals are being considered for the sprawling development on land off the Old Thanet Way. And, hear from Gillingham boss Stephen Clemence ahead of their league 2 match with Morcambe. It's another chance of the Gills to get into the play-off places but they've not had a win in the last four games.


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Podcast: Student forced to wait 18 hours for bed at Ashford's William Harvey Hospital

A dad has criticised bosses at the East Kent Hospitals Trust after his sick son was forced to wait 18 hours for a bed. 19-year-old university student Daniel Hebditch was taken to A&E in Ashford last week. Hear more from our reporter Liane Castle. Also in today's podcast, the government's flagship Rwanda policy has been delayed until after Easter. The House of Lords has voted to make seven changes to the draft legislation. Rainham and Gillingham MP Rehman Chishti has been speaking about it. The Kent Wildlife Trust is appealing for information following the death of four goats who were chased by dogs. The animals were part of the Wilder Grazing program at Bigbury Camp Nature Reserve near Canterbury. A Sheppey man who was told he may have just months to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumour has thanked everyone who's been supporting his family. Rick Smith started to complain of headaches in February before a CT scan revealed a glioblastoma. Now, tens of thousands of pounds has been raised to support his family. A Kent theatre that was forced to close after potentially dangerous concrete was found, could re-open this autumn. Plans have been put in to replace the roof of the Orchard in Dartford which had to shut last September. Council leader Jeremy Kite says it's vital for the local economy to get it fixed as soon as possible. Forty-thousand pounds worth of wedding dresses have been donated to a charity shop in Tunbridge Wells. Staff at the Oxfam branch say they were 'overwhelmed' to receive the gowns, veils and shoes from the owner of a nearby bridal studio which was closing down. A new school has been officially opened in Medway. Rochester Riverside Primary has been built as part of a multi-million pound housing development near the town's railway station. The Bishop of Rochester and Mayor of Medway carried out the honours.


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Podcast: Pupil at Herne Bay High school collapses after puffing on vape laced with synthetic drug Spice

A Kent head teacher's issued a warning after a pupil collapsed shortly after using a vape that had been spiked with a deadly synthetic drug. In a letter sent to parents it says the teenager had just finished classes for the day at Herne Bay High and had been handed the vape by another youngster. Also in today's podcast, Operation Brock has been put in place on the M20 ahead of the Easter Holidays. The contraflow system between Maidstone and Ashford allows for lorries to be parked on the motorway if there are delays getting across the Channel at Dover. A Folkestone man who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit has told the podcast he'll keep fighting to prove his innocence. Paul Cleeland was convicted of shooting his friend following a fight in 1972. Questions have since been raised about evidence presented at his trial - but appeals to clear his name have failed. Mr Cleeland has been speaking to reporter Sean Axtell. Could a town on the Isle of Sheppey become a tax-free haven like Monaco? A local historian had been hoping so after discovering an ancient document which excluded Queenborough residents from paying legal tariffs - including duty on wine. A public inquiry's under way as campaigners near Maidstone try to save a piece of former farmland from being built on. Developers are looking to put more than 400 homes on the former Bunyards Farm in Allington - but people living nearby want it to be given protected village green status. As we mark World Rewilding Day, we've been taking a look at some of the conservation work done by animal parks in Kent. The Aspinall Foundation specialises in reintroducing rare and endangered species and protecting habitats.