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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Beth Chatto remembered on BBC Radio 4

    BBC Radio 4's Last Word takes a look back at the life and work of gardener Beth Chatto this Sunday.

    She is one of several people featured in the obituary programme, following her death a fortnight ago.

    Ms Chatto transformed barren land at Elmstead Market near Colchester into a pioneering garden, which is still open to the public.

    The programme is on at 20:30 and then available on the BBC iPlayer.

    Beth Chatto
  2. Antony Gormley sculptures take to Peterborough rooftops

    Three lead sculptures by Antony Gormley have gone on show in Peterborough.

    The life-sized figures, called Places to Be, have been placed on the rooftops of Queensgate shopping centre, the Leeds Building Society, and the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society.

    Antony Gormley statue

    Mr Gormley, best known for the Angel Of The North in Gateshead, said: "Places to Be was my first public commission.

    "It is wonderful that it is being re-sited on a striking modern horizontal parapet, a Victorian corner tower, and the 18th Century roof line around the Market Square in the centre of Peterborough."

    Antony Gormley statue
  3. 'It's just a flesh wound' - King Arthur falls off bike

    It's a simple tale of "The Show Must Go On".

    A Bedfordshire theatre group has had to recast its lead actor in an forthcoming production of Spamalot, when the person playing King Arthur fell off his bike after riding over a pothole and seriously hurting himself.

    King Arthur in Spamalot

    Barry Thompson, from Bedford, was due to appear in the show at the Sharnbrook Mill Theatre (4-9 June), but a fractured collar bone and three rib fractures means he's having to rest at home.

    The self-confessed "fitness bunny" said it was a "real disappointment not to play this part as I have been rehearsing for it since January".

    Bruised shoulder

    To quote a song from the show he's performing in "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life".

    His replacement is Ian Stark.

  4. Business encouraged to look for business abroad after Brexit

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Firms in Suffolk are being encouraged to export after Brexit following publication of a report by the former Conservative leader of the county council Colin Noble.

    Port of Ipswich
    Image caption: Port of Ipswich

    The report said: "Evidence from Department of International Trade (DIT) shows that only a small percentage of companies export, but there are many more that share the same characteristics as these exporters.

    "We are working to get these companies exporting by working with the Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and the DIT to encourage them to do so."

    John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are working hard to ensure there will be support available for our local exporting businesses as they adapt to any new trading arrangements, and look forward to working alongside Suffolk County Council in achieving this."

  5. Water leak being repaired in Beds

    bhb

    A burst water main causing water to be cut off to some parts of North Bedfordshire should be resolved this afternoon.

    Anglian Water says it is reparing the leak, on the Thurleigh Road, and the Sharnbrook area now has water again.

    Some parts of Riseley have still been experiencing low water pressure or lack of water.

    The leak caused Riseley Primary School and Sharnbrook Academy to close.

    Map of water problem
  6. Firefighter recruits face written and physical tests

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    More than 400 people have applied to work for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service after recruitment for full time firefighters began for the first time in nearly a decade.

    Those selected for a shortlist will undertake a written examination and physical tests including weights in a gym and running out a hose reel, before being interviewed and having a medical examination.

    Hose run out
    Weight test

    They will then carry out their final training in August. The new recruits are expected to start work in the service from October.

  7. EU grant of £135,000 to cut street light energy costs in Ipswich

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The European Union has awarded a grant of £135,000 to improve street lighting in Ipswich after a trial which saw energy-use cut by 30% along a stretch of the A143 near Bury St Edmunds.

    Great Barton street lights

    Suffolk County Council won the 2018 Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport President's Award for digital innovation/technology for the project.

    Street light columns in the village of Great Barton carried sensors to record traffic levels so that lights could be dimmed or brightened to save energy.

    This success helped the council win the EU grant to extend the scheme.

    It is not yet clear which roads in Ipswich will be the focus of the latest phase or when work may take place.

  8. Fossil fuel protesters at Cambridge Uni prepare for forcible eviction

    Cambridge University has applied for a court order to remove students from a building which they have been occupying as part of a fossil fuel protest since last Friday, according to the activists.

    Members of Cambridge Zero Carbon Society are embroiled in a lengthy battle with the university over its financial interests in the fossil fuel industry.

    They have been pressing the university to divest, but a meeting on Monday of the university's divestment working group failed to reach a decision, and a date for a further meeting has yet to be announced.

    Student rally in Cambridge
    Image caption: There was a rally of about 200 people ahead of Monday's divestment meeting

    "The university has issued a court order to forcibly remove those who have been peacefully occupying their main administrative building Greenwich House, home to 400 staff including the Finance Office... they will most likely begin the eviction [Friday] afternoon or on Saturday," a spokesman for the activists said.

    Notification posted on Greenwich House
    Image caption: The university would not confirm it had applied for a court order but notices on Greenwich House indicate it has

    The university refused to confirm whether it had applied for a court order, or been granted one, but told the BBC: "The occupiers were asked to leave the building by 9am on 22 May but declined to do so. The university is now taking the necessary steps to bring the occupation to an end."

    According to the society, Cambridge University is estimated to have £377m invested in fossil fuel companies, both directly and indirectly.

    The university has declined to comment on that figure.

    Graffiti on university building
    Image caption: Members of the Zero Carbon Society chalk-sprayed the Senate House with messages ahead of Monday's divestment meeting
  9. Councillor rejects refund call in North Herts bin saga

    The councillor in charge of rubbish collection at North Hertfordshire District Council has dismissed calls for a refund for residents, after delays in collections caused by a new company taking over the contract.

    Many homes are now paying £40 extra for food waste and garden waste bins, which have been left on pavements for days.

    Councillor Michael Weeks has told the BBC that paying compensation would be "ridiculous".

    "When you're looking at a missed collection you are looking at 75p a week, that would be ridiculous to try to work refunds out, wouldn't it?" he said.

    "We are getting there. For instance yesterday, every bin in North Hertfordshire, due to be collected, was, so the future is looking rosy."

  10. Let's rock - Headbangers' Ball returns to the airwaves

    Headbangers at Download, Donington

    BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Stephen Foster is resurrecting his Headbangers' Ball rock show on the airwaves between 17:00 and 19:00 on Bank Holiday Monday.

    He used to present a show of the same name in the 1980s when it was broadcast on Ipswich-based commercial station Radio Orwell and its Bury St Edmunds sister station Saxon Radio.

    Foz said: "It never ceases to amaze me how many people come up to me and say they have fond memories of the show, and hopefully they'll be tuned in to wallow in rock nostalgia."

    Judging by comments on his Facebook post, they will be...

    View more on facebook
    Foz in the early 1980s - the orderly queue of adoring fans is just out of shot
  11. Holy moly... 'there's been an explosion'

    An underground explosion caused significant damage to a road and cut power to more than 200 homes.

    It happened in Back Lane in Melbourn, near Cambridge, at about 20:00 on Thursday.

    Hole in road in Melbourne

    Police and three fire crews attended and the road was closed for several hours.

    "There's been an explosion. It's created a big hole in road. We are looking into it," wrote police on Twitter.

    "Moles are stepping their game up," one person replied.

    View more on twitter

    Joking aside, UK Power Networks, whose engineers were called in, said 222 homes lost power, but it was restored within 90 minutes, although one customer is still affected and is on a back-up generator.

    A spokesman apologised to those affected..

    View more on twitter
  12. New leader raises hopes for Lowestoft Records Office to stay

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The new leader of Suffolk County Council has given campaigners fresh hopes the Lowestoft Record Office will remain in the town library (pictured below) or another building.

    Save Our Record Office campaigners presented a 7,395 signature petition against the closure of the office to Matthew Hicks's first council meeting as leader on Thursday and he said he recognised their concerns.

    Lowestoft Records Office

    The Conservative-run council planned to move the bulk of Suffolk's archive to a proposed new £20m building in Ipswich, called The Hold, which will be part-funded from its own assets, the lottery and the University of Suffolk.

    Mr Hicks told the campaigners he acknowledged their concerns and those raised by local residents, groups, town, parish and district councils.

    "We have agreed to formally consult on the future. We want to work with east Suffolk councils and Lowestoft Town Council, to develop a business project for a fully-funded and sustainable facility for Lowestoft," he said.

    The Hold

    Trudie Jackson, who presented the petition, said that those who had signed felt "disregarded and disrespected" over the county council's lack of communication with locals.

    She added that those reliant on public transport would face an eight-hour round trip from Lowestoft to the proposed new record office building in Ipswich, called The Hold (model pictured above).

  13. Govia Thameslink: Department for Transport responds

    Following yesterday's calls by MPs for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to lose its franchise immediately, the Department for Transport (DfT) has reiterated it will begin splitting up the company in 2021 when its franchise expires, as previously announced.

    GTR has been criticised by passengers and politicians for the delays and cancellations after it introduced new timetables this week.

    The firm operates Great Northern, Thameslink, Northern and Southern running services to Bedford, Luton, Peterborough, King's Lynn, Cambridge, London King's Cross, London Moorgate, Wimbledon and Brighton.

    On Thursday, the MP for Welwyn Hatfield, Grant Shapps, called for it to be immediately stripped of its franchise and the Hitchin and Harpenden MP, Bim Afolami, joined the call for that to happen if disruption continues.

    A DfT spokesman said: "The transport secretary has said that the disruption suffered by passengers due to the introduction of the new timetable has been unacceptable and he has been clear that it cannot happen again.

    "We are working closely with train companies to ensure they keep inconvenience to a minimum.

    "This timetable change – the biggest in in a generation – helps us introduce new services to give passengers faster journeys and more seats and is part of the biggest modernisation of the railways since the Victorian times."

    Meanwhile, passengers continue to vent their frustration on social media.

    View more on twitter
  14. 'Minor incident' between two planes at Stansted Airport

    Two planes have been involved in a "minor incident" at Stansted Airport this morning.

    The wing of a Primera Air plane scraped the tail stabiliser of a stationary Ryanair aircraft while it was taxiing behind it.

    View more on twitter

    A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "No injuries have been reported and no evacuation was required from either aircraft."

    In a statement Ryanair said:: "The Ryanair aircraft returned to stand to be inspected by engineers. To minimise delay, customers will transfer to a replacement aircraft later."

    All flights from the airport have now resumed.

  15. No smoke without fire as legal challenge launched against police chief

    Fire authority leaders have mounted a legal challenge against a decision to transfer control of Cambridgeshire's fire service to the police and crime commissioner (PCC).

    The Home Office granted permission for Jason Ablewhite (pictured) to become "police, fire and crime commissioner" in March.

    Jason Ablewhite

    However, at a meeting on Thursday the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Fire Authority agreed to issue a claim for a judicial review to challenge the government's decision.

    "We have requested additional information from the Home Office about the rationale behind the decision and we have sought legal advice," its chairman Kevin Reynolds said.

    The fire authority was formed in 1998 and is made up of 17 members of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council.

    Since its formation "the fire service has continuously been one of the lowest-cost fire and rescue services in the country, and scored well in the various assessments and inspections", Mr Reynolds said.

    "No reason has been demonstrated as to why a change in governance will bring any substantial benefits," he added.

    In response, Mr Ablewhite said: "The decision of [the authority] to mount a legal challenge against a decision made by Her Majesty’s Government to transfer the governance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service to myself is a matter between the councillors and the Home Office. As they have now entered the legal process it is not appropriate for me to comment."

  16. Engineers dealing with Beds water leak

    An Anglian Water team is in north Bedfordshire dealing with a burst water main.

    Engineers are working to fix the leak, which is on the Thurleigh Road, between Thurleigh and Sharnbrook.

    A spokeswoman for the company said there are still some properties in surrounding villages suffering from low water pressure and lack of water, but they are in the process of isolating the leak and and most properties should be restored today.

    Map of water issues
  17. New train timetables: Staff used as 'human shields'

    Rail staff across Beds, Herts and Bucks have faced verbal abuse from passengers angry at delays and cancellations to services because of a huge change to timetables this week, according to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

    Thameslink departures

    It said frontline staff have been taking the "full force" of frustration caused by disruption to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern trains..

    RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The vast majority of passengers know that the ongoing timetable problems in the wake of Meltdown Monday are down to the train companies and not the staff, but some lash out from sheer frustration.

    "There is no excuse for that whatsoever and the union will not tolerate a situation where our members at the sharp end are effectively being deployed as human shields by a remote and incompetent management."

    GTR has declined to comment on the claims.

  18. Harley Davidson-riding Yorkshireman is Cambridge mayor

    Josh Thomas

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Cambridge has a new mayor - he's from Yorkshire, and he rides a Harley Davidson.

    Labour councillor Nigel Gawthrope was voted in unanmously by the city council on Thursday.

    He'll take over from the outgoing Liberal Democrat mayor, George Pippas.

    Nigel Gawthrope

    He was nominated for the ceremonial role by his colleage Kevin Price, who said that, although Mr Gawthorpe was born in Yorkshire, he was "made in Cambridge".

    "Nigel has recently purchased a Harley Davidson," said Mr Price.

    "At first I thought this was part of a mid-life crisis. I think he will be an ideal person to serve as mayor."

    Mr Gawthorpe, who has lived in Cambridge since the 1960s, said it was a "huge honour to be elected".

    Former Cambridge mayor and disability campaigner Gerri Bird was elected deputy mayor.

  19. Tory election fraud suspect released under investigation

    A 21-year-old man, who was being questioned over suspected election fraud during a Norwich City Council ballot, has been released while inquiries continue.

    Norfolk Police arrested him and a 28-year-old man on Thursday on suspicion of conspiring to submit nomination papers containing fraudulent signatures.

    It relates to allegations that election papers with false signatures for a Conservative candidate were submitted the Mancroft ward in the lead up to the local elections on 3 May.

    Police said the second man has been released with no further action.

    Ballot box