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  1. Updates for Tuesday, 28 June 2016
  2. HS2 financial strain may cause delays
  3. Force 'could have stopped' Hatfield abuse officer
  4. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Wednesday

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All times stated are UK

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That's all from us today but we'll be back with you from 08:00 tomorrow.

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Weather Watchers: Poppies in Hitchin

BBC Weather Watchers

It's looking a bit grim out there so here's a nice photograph of poppies to cheer us up...

Poppies in a field in Hitchin

Man charged after girl, 12, sexually assaulted

A man has been charged with two counts of sexual assault after an alleged attack on a 12-year-old girl in Hitchin.

Woods off of Watersmeet in Hitchin

The 36-year-old allegedly assaulted the girl between 16:00 and 16:30 on Friday in woods opposite Watersmeet off Grove Road.

HS2: Councillor's challenge over right to speak

Earlier today, we brought you news about the high-speed rail link HS2 that will run through Buckinghamshire, being under financial strain which could lead to delays...

Well, the Bucks Herald has been reporting more about the train line.

They write that a Lib Dem councillor has mounted a challenge after he was told he cannot speak at the House of Lords select committee hearings. Read more here.

HS2 protestor tea-towel reads: "OK, it's a white elephant but it's a fast white elephant"

Children's campsite boss searched: 'Can a sex offender go to the USA?'

When police looked into electronic devices belonging to Ben Lewis, of Lullington Garth, Borehamwood, they found he'd been searching for things like: "Can a sex offender go to the USA?",  "Accidental downloading child porn" and "How do police search computers?"

He'd also installed a programme to securely delete sensitive files on his laptop.

On a tablet in his car, police found four indent images and one indecent video.

"These were what are called first generation images and had been taken by the person holding the device," prosecutor Ann Evans told St Albans Crown Court (pictured below).

St Albans Crown Court
South Beds News Agency

Convicted child porn campsite boss 'wants to put all this behind him'

Ben Lewis' defence barrister, Jeremy Dein QC, told St Albans Crown Court his client had "lost his employment and has no savings and no income".

"He wants to get married, have children and put all this behind him," Mr Dein added.

Ben Lewis
South Beds News Agency

Lewis, who admitted three counts of making indecent images and one of taking indecent images, spent three months on remand and a further eight months on a qualifying curfew, meaning he had served the equivalent of a 14 month sentence.

He had completed an online course by Stop It Now, a charity aimed at preventing child sexual abuse, the court heard.

Campsite staff member's brain 'was polluted' after seeing photos

The LL Camps staff member who found the indecent photos of children on Ben Lewis' phone said she felt her brain "was polluted" after seeing the pictures.

Sandra Vicente told St Albans Crown Court that initially, Lewis had tried to pretend he did not know how the photos had got there.

But when police came to investigate, they found a pair of children's knickers next to his laptop, and videos and photos he had taken up the skirt of a nine-year-old he was supposed to be tutoring.

Naked photos found on phone belonging to LL Camps' owner

Ben Lewis, 26, admitted three counts of making indecent images and one of taking indecent images.

Lewis was the co-owner of LL Camps in Bushey, Hertfordshire, where a member of staff discovered the naked pictures on his phone.

Ben Lewis
South Beds News Agency

As well as giving him a suspended sentence, St Albans Crown Court judge Marie Catterson made a Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning Lewis from working with children and having unsupervised contact with children, unless that is agreed by social services.

He must also attend up to 100 days of a Community Sex Offender Programme and register as a sex offender indefinitely.

BreakingSummer camp boss given suspended sentence over naked girl photos

The owner of a children's summer camp has been given a 24-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, after pictures of naked three and four-year-old girls were found on his phone.

More to follow.

A41 Aston Clinton bypass fire: In Pictures

This is what the remains of a van looked like on the A41 Aston Clinton bypass after a fire before midnight.

The road was closed until lunchtime due to gas cylinders having to be left to cool.

View more on twitter

Rape confrontation man jumps from tree

Shenley home
Hyde raped the girl when she was staying at his home in Boswell Close, Shenley

A tree surgeon climbed up a tree and then jumped after his wife confronted him about raping a teenage girl, a court has heard.

Shenley home

Rape confrontation man jumps from tree

A tree surgeon climbed up a tree and then jumped after his wife confronted him about raping a teenage girl, a court has heard.

Read more

Bedfordshire church latest victim of lead theft

Roberto Perrone

BBC Three Counties Radio

We have reported, all too many times, about the theft of lead from church roofs throughout the three counties, but one church that hadn't been affected was St Mary's Church in Potton... That was until last Wednesday evening.

The lead was stripped from the roof, leaving it open to the elements.

St Mary's Church, Potton
Dave Thompson

Reverend Gill Smith was contacted by a member of the public who had gone to spend some time in the church, they had found the floor was soaking wet, "looked up and could see the sky through the rafters".

Rev Smith quickly contacted a contractor who made the roof watertight - free of charge.

Insurers will cover the majority of repair works now, as long as a roof alarm is fitted but these can cost about £3,000 so the church are now trying to raise some money.

St Mary's Church, Potton
Dave Thompson

"It was such a dreadful shock when we found it"

Reverend Gill SmithSt Mary's Church, Potton

Firm fined for polluting brook

A company has been fined more than £20,000 for polluting a brook at Hockcliffe, the Herald & Post reports.

A 3km stretch was affected by overflows, the article states. Read the story here.

Armed robberies last night linked by police

Police are linking two armed robberies in Burnham and Slough last night.

Tesco on High Street in Burnham

Two people wearing motorcycle helmets entered Tesco Express on the High Street in Burnham at 22:20 and stole cash from an unattended till.

It's believed these were the same offenders who entered Co-op in Elmshott Lane, Slough at 21:45 and threatened staff with a knife.

Police say the offenders arrived on what seemed to be an off-road motorbike.

Helicopter search for missing Borehamwood man

A police helicopter has been over Borehamwood this afternoon after a possible sighting of missing 81-year-old Terry Dunne.

View more on twitter

Hertfordshire Police say Mr Dunne was last seen at his home in Brook Road at about 22:30 on Friday.

Officers are concerned as he has been "without his medication for some time" and is a "vulnerable older man".

They say he's 6ft 1in tall (1.85m), usually wears a cap and speaks with a London accent.

Terry Dunne
Hertfordshire Police

Bedford bridge an 'eyesore' and untrue to proposals

People in Bedford claim a new pedestrian bridge over the river is nothing like what was promised. 

As first reported in the Bedfordshire on Sunday, campaign group Bedford Forum says the bridge is a complete eyesore and looks nothing like the concept drawings.  

Bridge in Bedford - a curve-sided, white iron construction
John Lloyd

Developer Coplan Estates promised a sleek, modern glass bridge linking council offices with the new Riverside North development but what's been constructed is vastly different.

Bedford Borough Council says it's currently considering detailed drawings submitted by the developer.

Proposed bridge shows artist impression of a glass-sided bridge
Bedford Borough Council

Weather: Cloudy with outbreaks of rain

BBC Weather

Cloud will continue to build this afternoon, with outbreaks of rain arriving by mid afternoon - these will be heavy at times. 

Maximum temperature: 19C (66F)

Blue skies over Buntingford

MK Dons sign defender Paul Downing

BBC Sport

MK Dons have signed defender Paul Downing on a two-year deal after he rejected a new contract offer from League One rivals Walsall.

Paul Downing
Getty Images

Downing, who had only been offered a one-year deal by the Saddlers, made 183 appearances for the club following his release by West Brom in August 2012.

The 24-year-old centre-back has also previously been out on loan at Hereford United, Shrewsbury Town and Barnet.

Open Final Qualifying: Bedford's Poulter takes 18th hole

Geoff Doyle

BBC Three Counties Radio sport

Here's Bedford's Daniel Poulter on the 18th hole at the Open Final Qualifying in Woburn a bit earlier.

Daniel Poulter takes a swing

Poulter was drawn with Canada's Mike Wier and Paul McBride.

It all came out in the wash: Missing snake found under washing machine

Dani Bailey

BBC Local Live

I don't know about you but if my neighbour lost their snake - for three months - I'd be a bit on edge. Especially if it was found underneath my washing machine.

That's exactly what happened in Leighton Buzzard.

RSPCA officer holds snake after catching it / Owner holds snake up

The RSPCA were called when a 3ft (0.9m) corn snake was found poking out from under a man's washing machine last week.

After a bit of wiggling around, officers managed to capture the snake and find out where the owner lived - just a few doors down.

The snake, Jemima, went missing at Easter and owner Colin Millar said he'd almost "given up on ever finding her".

Woburn golf pro leads with local knowledge

Geoff Doyle

BBC Three Counties Radio sport

Local knowledge seems to be helping Woburn Golf Club pro Sam Whitehead.

He leads the Open Final Qualifying with -5 at his own course.

Woburn golf pro Whitehead tops leader board

Travel: A41 Aston Clinton bypass closures lifted

All closures on the A41 Aston Clinton bypass have now been lifted.

The road was closed in both directions following a van fire involving gas cylinders just before midnight.

View more on twitter

Open Final Qualifying at Woburn

Geoff Doyle

BBC Three Counties Radio sport

I'm at Woburn Golf Club for the Open Final Qualifying today.

Three qualifying places are available into the 145th Open at Royal Troon. 

Plenty of local players are in action on the Marquess' course and Woburn club pro Sam Whitehead currently leads on -5.

Board shows rank of golfers

Travel: A41 Aston Clinton bypass now open northbound

BBC Travel

The A41 Aston Clinton bypass is now open northbound but there are delays, police say.

The southbound carriageway remains closed from Tring Road roundabout and Pitstone - there is a diversion in place through Weston Turville.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Pedestrian, 95, killed in Chalfont St Peter crash

A 95-year-old man has died after a collision in Chalfont St Peter yesterday evening.

Lower Road, Chalfont St Peter

The elderly man was walking along Lower Road, near the junction with Grange Road, at about 17:00 when a black Vauxhall Astra collided with him.

The man died at the scene. The man, 38, driving the car was not injured.

Police are investigating and ask for any witnesses to come forward.

A41 van fire involved gas cylinders

A man was left in the care of paramedics following the vehicle fire on the A41 Aston Clinton bypass late last night.

At 23:45, the fire service extinguished the van fire and erected a 200m cordon due to acetylene cylinders being involved.

The road remains closed, between Icknield Way and London Road, and is expected to be for the remainder of the day.

Travel: A41 closure causing Tring traffic

BBC Travel

The A41 Aston Clinton bypass closure between Icknield Way and London Road is causing congestion in Tring.

View more on twitter

Complaint made about Hertfordshire PC in 2008

Nicola Haseler

BBC Three Counties

A woman who had a child with PC Simon Salway, who was jailed for having sex with vulnerable women he met through his work, said she was assured Hertfordshire Police would look into a complaint she made about him.

Lorraine Tate, 42, who has now waived her right to anonymity, met Salway in 2007 after she was a witness to a crime and was being threatened.  

Lorraine Tate

They had a six-week relationship which she ended when she discovered he was married and before she knew she was pregnant.

She made a complaint to the force in 2008 as Salway had been seeing her on police time. She said she was assured they would look into it but had no further correspondence from them.

Salway continued having sex with women he met on duty until 2014.

Ms Tate says if Herts Police had stopped Salway in 2007, he might no longer have been a police officer.

Who is PC Simon Salway?

Nicola Haseler

BBC Three Counties

PC Simon Salway was convicted in December of six charges of misconduct in a public office in relation to five women. He was acquitted of a seventh misconduct charge involving another woman.

He was jailed for three years in January.

Simon Salway/Luton Crown Court

During his trial at Luton Crown Court, the jury heard Salway, who was based at Hatfield Police Station, had "wilfully abused" his position over a sustained period of time.

Some of the women he pursued were the victims of domestic violence at the hands of abusive partners, the court heard.

Hertfordshire PC 'could have been stopped', victim claims

Nicola Haseler

BBC Three Counties

A former Hertfordshire police officer who was jailed for having sex with vulnerable women he met through his work could have been stopped years earlier, one of his victims has claimed

Simon Salway

PC Simon Salway, 39, who was based at Hatfield, targeted the women after they had contacted the police for help. 

The force is not commenting, but Lorraine Tate says she complained officially about him in 2008 before he went on to take advantage of other vulnerable women.

Weather: Bright start but rain later

Kate Kinsella

BBC Look East weather

This morning will start off on a bright note, with early morning spells of sunshine across the county. However, cloud will build through the day, with outbreaks of rain by mid afternoon

Maximum temperature: 19C (66F)

Travel: A41 Aston Clinton bypass closed both ways

BBC Travel

The A41 Aston Clinton bypass is closed in both directions due to an earlier van fire between the Crows Nest roundabout (Icknield Way) and the Woodlands roundabout (London Road).

Police say the road could be closed for the majority of the day, as it was a van carrying gas cylinders that caught fire and the cylinders may need to be left to cool down.

View more on twitter

HS2 welcomes 'challenging' report

HS2 has welcomed the report by the National Audit Office "and its confirmation that, whilst many challenges remain, the project is on track to deliver its strategic scope and to do so on budget".

HS2 protestor

"This report [challenges us] and we accept that challenge. It also, however, recognises the real progress we have made in taking the concept of HS2 and moving it nearer reality," said the chief executive of HS2, Simon Kirby.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said: "HS2 is on track and the National Audit Office agrees. We have strong cross party support and are on schedule to gain the powers needed to start building HS2, which the NAO acknowledges is a significant achievement."

HS2 'large, complex and ambitious'

"HS2 is a large, complex and ambitious programme which is facing cost and time pressures," said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office.

"The unrealistic timetable set for HS2 Ltd by the Department [for Transport] means they are not as ready to deliver as they hoped to be at this point.

"The department now needs to get the project working to a timescale that is achievable."

"Stop HS2" banner
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The National Audit Office said phase one of HS2 was currently forecast to cost £27.4bn, exceeding available funding by £204m. The second phase was also over budget.

HS2 advised over potential savings of £9bn

The high-speed rail link HS2, that is due to be opened in Buckinghamshire by 2026, may be delayed unless it can make savings of £9bn.

HS2 protestor

Rebecca Shearan, from the National Audit Office, said that "work done by the department HS2 Ltd, and led by a cabinet office review" has identified potential savings of £9bn.

"HS2 Ltd have been asked to incorporate these potential savings into it's next cost estimate so we need to see how they work through the savings potentials that they've identified," Ms Shearan said.

HS2: National Audit Office report analysis

Richard Westcott

Transport correspondent

The NAO report was written before the Brexit vote, so it doesn't speculate on what effect, if any, it could have on HS2.

Still, this behemoth of a project involving £56bn of public money would appear to be safe, for now.

The Department for Transport's very keen to send out a "business as usual" message, promising that planned investment in our roads and railways won't suffer.

MPs are due to vote on phase one of HS2 later this year. If they approve the bill, that's effectively the green light to start building the line from London to Birmingham. And MPs approved the project overwhelmingly the last time they had a vote.

The company building the line, HS2 Limited, is also about to hand out £11bn worth of contracts in the next couple of months. The winning companies can't begin building work until the HS2 bill has royal assent, due by the end of the year, but they will be looking to recruit, hire vehicles, get plans in place.

Having said all of that, who'd be brave enough to predict anything right now?

HS2 financial strain may mean delays

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has said that the proposed new £56b high-speed rail link, HS2, is under financial strain and may have to be delayed

The first phase through Buckinghamshire is due to open in 2026. 

HS2 artist impression

HS2 Limited, and the government insist the line will open on time and on budget.  

The project cleared its final Commons stage in March and is now being considered by the House of Lords.  

Welcome to Local Live for Beds, Herts and Bucks

Dani Bailey

BBC Local Live

Good morning and welcome to today's live page for the three counties.

We'll be bringing you the latest on the closure of the A41 Aston Clinton bypass.

There will also be news about the financial strain and possible delay of HS2 in Buckinghamshire.