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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Goodbye

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

Thanks for joining us today and indeed across the week.

We'll be back on Monday from 08:00.

We'll leave you with this heart-warming tale from six-year-old Daisy, from Huntingdon, who didn't want presents for her birthday so asked for donations for the hospital that saved her life.

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Have a great weekend.

Goodbye for now

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

That's it for this week from all the team here at Local Live for Beds, Herts and Bucks. 

We'll be back with all your regular updates of news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Monday.

In the meantime, it's going to be a busy weekend for one-year-old Finley Bagshaw. 

Tomorrow he'll officially open Fontmell Close in St Albans, the location of a giant sinkhole that opened up in October last year. 

Gemma and Finley Bagshaw
BBC

The road actually opened on Wednesday, but a special event is happening on Saturday.  

When the hole appeared Harry was in his mother Gemma's tummy. 

The family was set to move into their home today, the first time they've been able to live there since Finley was born. 

Have a great weekend.

That's all from us

Pete Cooper

BBC Local Live

What a day!

You can read more on Nico Rosberg's retirement from Formula 1 on the BBC Sport website. Remember at the beginning of the week we were only celebrating his world title for Brackley-based Mercedes.

There is plenty of sport over the weekend though and this is how you can follow it:

  • England v Australia in the final rugby autumn international on the BBC Sport website on Saturday.
  • Blackpool v Brackley in the FA Cup second round, and Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints on BBC Radio Northampton on Saturday.
  • Stourbridge v Northampton Town in the FA Cup second round on Sunday on BBC Radio Northampton.

We'll round it all up on Monday - so until then, have a good evening and weekend.

Weather: Risk of frost tonight, staying dry tomorrow

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

This evening will be rather cloudy with some showers clearing eastwards. 

Clear spells will develop and bring the risk of a frost in places and the odd fog patch. Lows of -1 to 4C (30 - 39F).

East of England weather
BBC

Saturday will be a little cloudy at times, but staying dry with some bright or sunny spells. 

Chance of an isolated shower in eastern counties, with highs of 7C (45F).

There's more at BBC Weather.

Robbie Neilson hails MK Dons as 'club that's going places'

The club statement continues, with Neilson saying he's "delighted" to take up the vacant job at Stadium MK.

"It's great to be here and I'm looking forward to developing the club, developing the players and moving the club forward. 

"The most important thing for me was picking the right chairman and the right club and this was the right match at the right time - it's a club that's going places. 

Robbie Neilson
Getty Images

"Hopefully the fans are ready for the ride. We want to create excitement but, most importantly, win football matches."

Chairman Pete Winkelman added: "I'm hugely excited. Robbie has been on our list from day one - he's the most exciting young manager in the UK, by a country mile."

The 36-year-old leaves Hearts second in the Scottish Premiership, replacing Karl Robinson at a side currently 19th in England's third tier.

He will be joined at the Dons by Stevie Crawford, who has been Neilson's assistant since he took his first job in management at Tynecastle in 2014.

Neilson will take charge after Sunday's FA Cup game with Charlton.

BreakingRobbie Neilson confirmed as new MK Dons boss

Signed, sealed, delivered - a statement has just appeared from MK Dons that reads:

"Milton Keynes Dons Football Club are delighted to confirm the appointment of highly-rated Robbie Neilson as first-team manager. 

"After the club agreed terms with Heart of Midlothian on Thursday evening, Neilson travelled to Stadium MK to finalise his move to become MK Dons' sixth manager."

Five-year-old gets ready to start Santa race in memory of brother

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

A very special race will be run by a Bedford family this Sunday. 

Ella Russell, aged five, has been given the honour of starting the Santa Run on the town's Embankment, in memory of her three-year-old brother, Harry, who died last year. 

She'll be running the race with her dad Mark (left) and mother Julie to raise funds for Keech Hospice Care, where Harry spent his last days.

Mark and Ella Russell
BBC

Ella told us: "I love seeing all the Santas having fun as they run and walk around the Embankment. Last year after Harry died, me, mummy and daddy went to watch all the Santas, it was brilliant."  

Men arrested in Luton suspected of people smuggling

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

Four Albanian men suspected to be involved in the smuggling of people into the UK as part of an international organised crime group have been arrested in Luton.

Police raided four properties in Falconers Road, Mallard Gardens, Trent Road and Stockwood Crescent yesterday.  

The four were remanded in custody following an appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court and face extradition to Belgium for further investigation.

London prisoners blamed for rise in violence at HMP Onley

BBC News England

Prisoners moved from London to a jail near Daventry have been blamed for a "sharp rise" in violence at the site.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons found standards had declined at HMP Onley and declared it unsafe.

Prison
BBC

The watchdog found conditions worse than in 2012, with staff blaming relocated London prisoners and gang issues for a near-tripling of assaults.

The National Offender Management Service said tackling the decline in safety was the governor's top priority.

Secret Garden Party announces headliners

Tom Simkins

BBC Introducing in Cambridgeshire

It may feel like the depths of winter outside, but plans are already being put in place for next summer's Secret Garden Party.

The first set of headliners have been announced and include electronic group Metronomy, as well as legendary reggae act Toots & the Maytals.

Firework display
Samantha Milligan

The festival, which sees more than 25,000 people attend every year, is a staple for music lovers and takes place just outside Huntingdon in Abbots Ripton.

The 2017 festival takes place from 20 to 23 July.

FA Cup: Brackley hoping for 'memorable occasion' at Blackpool

Caroline Densley

BBC Radio Northampton Sport

Brackley Town manager Kevin Wilkin says he hopes his players' hard work over the past couple of weeks will pay off as they face League Two Blackpool tomorrow in the FA Cup second round.

The non-league side have already beaten League One Gillingham, with Jimmy Armson scoring a hat-trick in round one.

Jimmy Armson
PA

Kevin Wilkin says he knows it's going to be another difficult tie at Bloomfield Road, but said the third round is a "dream" and hopes that "friends, family and supporters can enjoy the day and hopefully we can make it a memorable occasion".

Decision to fund Mars project 'applauded'

Airbus Defence and Space, the company behind the Mars rover that was built in Stevenage, have today "applauded ESA's decisions to further develop Europe in space".

EU ministers today agreed to fund the outstanding €400m euros (£337m) needed to complete the Exo Mars mission.

The company said: "European citizens will benefit greatly from our new innovative solutions", adding that "Europe’s ambitions in space have received another boost".

Ministerial meeting
ESA

Love in a cold climate?

Helen Burchell

BBC News

This little bit of "frost art" has got us all wondering... who's in love with who?

Hearts drawn in frost
Gemma Osborne

This pair of love hearts appeared in the frost outside Gemma Osborne's mum's house in Yelling yesterday morning.

"We've absolutely no idea who did it, or what they did it with," she said. "Mum thought she might have a secret admirer for a minute."

She might, but an almost identical pair of linked hearts appeared in the frost at the same time in a road in Godmanchester, about 10 minutes' away. So someone's spreading the love around a bit.

Gemma thinks it might be "just one of those Random Acts of Kindness", but if you know better, drop us an email and let us in on the secret.

Two armed robberies linked, say police

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

A second armed robbery has taken place in Cambridgeshire in as many days.

The most recent of the two robberies took place about 22:00 at Tesco Express on Great North Road, Eaton Socon, on Wednesday.

Tesco in Eaton Socon
Google

Two men entered the shop armed with a knife and a crowbar. They threatened staff and demanded money from the tills before leaving with more than £900.

Police are linking it to a similar crime in St Ives the day before.

Woman killed in crash named

Tom Horn

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

A woman killed in a five car crash near Ely during last night's rush hour has been named.

Janet Beaumont, 79, from Brook Street in Soham, was a passenger in one of the vehicles involved in the collision on the B1104 near Prickwillow.

The driver is now in a critical, but stable condition in hospital.

There were also other minor injuries reported and investigations are continuing.

Local paper round-up: Charity shop break-in, fly-tipping near Daventry, Kettering's Apprentice star

Pete Cooper

BBC Local Live

Elsewhere in Northamptonshire:

  • The Chronicle & Echo reports a distraught charity worker is appealing for donations after hundreds of pounds of designer jackets and goodwill money was stolen from a shop in Northampton.
  • Meanwhile, the Northamptonshire Telegraph says Kettering's Apprentice candidate Karthik Nagesan (below) will be in town at the weekend to help launch a range of Christmas goods made by special school pupils.
Karthik Nagesan
BBC

Guns stolen from Bedfordshire home

Lee Agnew

BBC Three Counties Radio

Three legal shotguns have been stolen in a burglary in Cranfield.

Bedfordshire Police says they were locked away but taken at about 19:00 on Wednesday, along with some jewellery and a number of Christmas presents.

Two of the guns are described as a Sabel and a woman's shorter barrelled AYA model.

Any extra funding for UTCs would be 'wrong', says teaching union

Sam Read

BBC Radio Northampton politics reporter

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) says the government focus should be on colleges and sixth forms rather the University Technical Colleges (UTC), despite some UTCs struggling to recruit students.

The BBC has seen a letter that shows the government is considering asking councils to write to parents explaining other schooling options including UTCs. The letter also says the UTCs should be able to widen their catchment to outside their relevant local authorities.

But Gordon White, from the NUT in the county, says post-16 is suffering.

Gordon white
BBC

College and sixth forms have had funding cuts, so to increase funding to a new group of institutions for which there is no demonstrable need is wrong."

Gordon WhiteNorthamptonshire NUT

You can see inside Silverstone UTC and get more on this issue on Sunday Politics East, this Sunday at 11:00 on BBC One.   

Legislation needed to help University Technical College pupil recruitment, says head

Sam Read

BBC Radio Northampton politics reporter

The principal at Silverstone University Technical College (UTC) says the government needs to do more to help with student recruitment.

The colleges, which specialise in particular subjects, take students from the age of 14 at a time when teenagers don't usually move school. In places such as Daventry, UTCs are falling short of recruitment targets.

Neil Patterson, from Silverstone UTC, says the government needs to step in.

Neil Patterson
BBC

There needs to be legislation to force schools to allow UTCs into them to give them proper information about their options."

Neil PattersonPrincipal, Silverstone UTC

Dropped your drugs?

Two bags of cannabis have been found by Hertfordshire Police after being dumped by the side of the road in Brent Pelham. 

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Injury concerns for Watford manager

Geoff Doyle

BBC Three Counties Radio sport

Watford have serious injury and suspension problems ahead of the Premier League visit to West Brom tomorrow. 

With Valon Behrami and Miguel Britos both banned, the Hornets also have injury concerns over Younes Kaboul, Adrian Mariappa and Ben Watson to add to longer term injury victims Craig Cathcart and Isaac Success. 

Walter Mazzarri
Getty Images

"Since I've been here for sure it's one of the moments I have most doubts," said manager Walter Mazzarri. "Sometimes you need the emergency moments; players who haven't played as much can prove they are important members of the team."  

Many redundancies at Cambridge pharmaceutical site

Waseem Mirza

BBC Look East

It's been confirmed that only 25 scientists out of "several hundred" are to remain at a world-renowned lab in Cambridge - with the rest losing their jobs.

Japanese company Takeda, which has a lab at Cambridge Science Park, searches for new drugs to treat diseases such as dementia.

During the summer it revealed it was negotiating the future of the Science Park site as part of a global restructuring.

Takeda lab in Cambridge
Takeda

Today it's confirmed only a handful of Cambridge scientists will be retained and transferred to a new venture called Cerevance.

The new firm is being launched with funding worth $36m (£28m) and will be jointly owned by Takeda and the US company, Lightstone Ventures, solely focussing on treatments for brain diseases.

The firm has previously denied Brexit was a factor in its decision to close Takeda Cambridge.

Demolition begins at Fletton Quays

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

Earlier we brought you pictures of demolition work beginning on part of a 19th Century historic mill site in Peterborough.

It's part of the £120m regeneration of Fletton Quays.

The former Whitworth Mill building will be saved, however, and turned into an arts and culture hub for the city.

Here's a video of the initial demolition work to the surrounding structures...

Christmas display raises £29,000 for charity

A Christmas display that has been going for almost 30 years has raised £29,000 for Magpas Air Ambulance over its lifetime, its owners say.

Alan and Megan Milton have been creating the display at their Oakington bungalow since the 1980s.

It's being switched on for this festive season tomorrow and will stay on until New Year's Day.  

Watch: Leighton Buzzard battery explained

The "big battery" is the first grid-scale battery storage project in the UK. 

If you want to know what that means, watch this video made two years ago when the testing was just about to start...

'Biggest battery' could cut energy bills

Leighton Buzzard has the power

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

After two years of testing, a giant battery housed in an average looking warehouse in Leighton Buzzard has been declared a success.

UK Power Networks designed the impressive 6MW/10MWh battery to store electricity when demand is low, then release it back into the grid at peak times.

It's the size of three tennis courts and can store enough electricity to power 6,000 homes for one and a half hours. 

Battery
BBC

UK Power Networks says it will continue to operate "the big battery" to "meet the continuing demands for electricity in the Bedfordshire town".

North, Picamoles and Hanrahan all return for Saints

Graham McKechnie

BBC Radio Northampton sport

France number eight Louis Picamoles and Wales wing George North return to the Northampton Saints side following their autumn internationals.

Also returning for the game at arch-rivals Leicester is JJ Hanrahan coming in at centre...

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Nico Rosberg retires: Who might fill his seat?

The boss of Brackley-based Mercedes, Toto Wolff, said searches for a replace of world champion Nico Rosberg, who earlier announced his retirement, starts on Monday.

But who might be in contention for a place alongside Lewis Hamilton...

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Baby and woman taken to hospital after fire

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Earlier we brought you a report about a woman and a baby who were treated at the scene of a fire in Bletchley this morning. 

South Central Ambulance Service has just confirmed it sent a specialist paramedic and an ambulance crew to the flat on Nevis Grove as they were suffering from smoke inhalation. 

They were then transferred to Milton Keynes Hospital. 

Musical river walk back under way

Yesterday we mentioned composer Benjamin Till, from Higham Ferrers, set off on a 100-mile walk that will take him from the start of the River Nene in Badby to its end in Wisbech. 

For five days he'll listen to the river to hear its sounds and pitch to help him create the piece, titled Source to the Sea.

He was back out walking this morning.

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He's taken in the beautiful countryside...    

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And the not so beautiful countryside...

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You can see more by clicking on his Twitter feed above.

Nico Roseberg retires: First reigning champion to retire in 23 years

Berkhamsted-by-the-Sea?

BBC Weather Watchers

Stop and look carefully at the picture below.

At first glance you might think it's Berkhamsted-by-the-Sea, but it's actually the mist creating an optical illusion in the Hertfordshire town.

Berkhamsted
BBC

Thanks to BBC Weather Watcher "The Stranger" for the picture.

The cloud is set to stay this afternoon, but the winds will be light.

It will feel a little chilly, with a maximum temperature of 8C (46F). 

Coton torture case: 'Our lives have been irreparably changed'

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

The daughter of a couple who were stolen from and tortured in their home in Coton has spoken of the "irreparable change" to family life as a result of the crime.

“What hasn't been said is the personal loss my parents have suffered and continue to suffer; their loss of their sense of security, the loss of their retirement dreams, the loss of precious memories; as family heirlooms, medals, wedding gifts and other irreplaceable mementoes, collected over generations, were melted down to their constituent metals and sold for scrap," a statement reads.

"Their loss of their ability to get a full night's sleep; both nearly 80-years-old, they literally barricade themselves in their bedroom as soon as it gets dark. Too scared to accept invitations to go out, even from old friends, they've become socially isolated.

"As a consequence of all of this their health has declined at an alarming rate and my mother now views mealtimes as a misery; having needed to undergo the painful removal and replacement of all the teeth on one side of her jaw, because her own were badly cracked from blows to her face."

Europe presses ahead with Stevenage-built Mars rover

Jonathan Amos

Science correspondent, BBC News

Europe will push ahead with its plan to put a Stevenage-assembled robotic rover on the surface of Mars in 2021.

Research ministers meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, have agreed to stump up the outstanding €400m euros (£337m) needed to take the project through to completion.

The mission is late and is costing far more than originally envisaged, prompting fears that European Space Agency member states might abandon it.

Artwork ExoMars
ESA

Coton torture case: Drugs blamed for defendant's behaviour

In mitigation for Richard Leslie, John Farmer told the Old Bailey the evidence was that his client was involved in the burglary but was not inside the house.

Ramiz Gursoy, for John McCarthy, said the defendant's behaviour was borne out of "personal difficulties" including drug use, an unhappy upbringing and issues with his partner.

But it did not stop the pair being jailed for 15 years each for torturing and burgling a couple in Coton, near Cambridge, in 2014.  

Coton street sign
Google

Det Insp Alan Page, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: "This was a truly despicable crime committed against two elderly vulnerable victims.

"Those who commit this type of crime need to realise that we will leave no stone unturned in the fight to bring to justice those responsible." 

Coton torture case: Others involved 'never found'

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

Two former cleaners who stole £20,000 in a raid in Coton in November 2014 have been jailed for 15 years each.

John McCarthy, 35, from Cambridge, and Richard Leslie, 37, from Mitcham, south London, were linked to Marc Smith, 43, from Cambridge, who also admitted handling stolen goods.

Silverware and jade ornaments
Cambridgeshire Police
Silverware and jade ornaments were taken in the raid in November 2014

Prosecutor Maryam Syed said the victims were targeted through Smith, who previously worked for a taxi firm the couple used.

When Smith's home was searched, police found a new kiln for smelting down precious metals as well as £15,000 in cash.

Smith's case was adjourned to a further hearing on 8 December.

Jacob O'Dell, 20, from Cambridge, who admitted sending malicious communications to a witness on Facebook messenger last year, was handed a two-year community order at an earlier hearing.

But the Old Bailey heard other men involved in the burglary have never been caught.     

Rosberg retires: 'I am on the peak, so this feels right'

You can read Nico Rosberg's full statement on his Facebook page, regarding his decision to quit F1.

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Rosberg retires: Live press conference

You can watch the FIA press conference from Vienna right now on Facebook Live where Nico Rosberg has announced his retirement from Formula 1...

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The driver for Brackley-based Mercedes won a gripping 2016 title pipping Lewis Hamilton in a dramatic final race last week.

BreakingNico Rosberg retires

Formula 1 world champion and driver for Brackley-based Mercedes, Nico Rosberg, has retired from the sport.

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We'll bring you more soon.

Coton torture case: Burglars were 'every householder's worst nightmare'

The judge who sentenced two men to 15 years each in prison has branded them "every householder's worst nightmare".

John McCarthy, 35, and Richard Leslie, 37, were part of a gang that stole £20,000 in cash, gold ornaments and silverware in a raid in Coton in November 2014.

Judge Richard Hone QC, told them their behaviour was "vicious, ruthless and merciless". 

When the householders were set upon by the burglars they thought they were under attack from "alien invaders" or a "Swat team", the judge said.

The Old Bailey heard one of the burglars threatened to cut off the wife's fingers and ear with a pair of sheers if gold, more cash and Rolex watches were not produced. 

They also used a sledgehammer to break one of her toes, causing bruising and swelling to the whole foot. She also needed extensive dental treatment because of the beating to her face.

Her husband was stuck with pins "many times" to extort more valuables, the judge added.

During the attack, one of the armed intruders boasted: "This is what we do for a living".