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  1. Former Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield cleared of falsely claiming expenses
  2. RSPCA warns dog owners after animals fall ill from suspected poisoning
  3. UK's hottest day of year so far recorded in Essex
  4. Updates on Monday, 18 July 2016
  5. News, sport, travel and weather updates resume at 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Jack Warren

All times stated are UK

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  1. That's all from us today!

    Jack Warren

    BBC Local Live

    You can breath a sigh of relief, that's Monday done! We've also finished our live coverage for today - here are the top stories we've covered:

    • Former Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield, has been acquitted of submitting false expenses claims
    • Essex pet owners are being warned to be vigilant after a series of possible dog poisonings
    • A "level two" heat warning has been issued for Essex by the Met Office up until Thursday evening

    The team and I will be back tomorrow morning from 08:00 with another look at stories from around Essex. 

    Now I don't know about you, I'm off for a nice cold beverage. Have a great evening. 

  2. Weather: A hot and muggy night ahead

    Dan Holley

    BBC Look East weather

    A dry night with temperatures remaining relatively high, bringing a muggy night. 

    Highs of 15C (59F).

    Weather map for the East

    It'll be another dry, hot and humid day tomorrow with further long spells of summer sunshine. 

    Maximum temperature: 30C (86F). Get your local forecast from BBC Weather.

  3. Hot weather + fewer clothes = insect bites galore

    Is there anything more irritating than an itchy insect bite? (Don't answer that).

    Today our office has been full of journalists who forgot to dose up on insect repellent over the weekend, including news editor Claire Sawyer, whose legs have been left looking like a pin cushion.

    Gnat bites

    Now some experts are warning that this summer could see an increase in bites due to the wet winter we had - but are we one gnat away from an epidemic? 

    Howard Carter, a bite protection expert, told BBC Essex: "You've had ideal conditions for insect to breed, particularly around the Essex marshes.

    "Some people can go into anaphylactic shock - but for most it's just really painful."

    If you want to avoid being bitten, Howard advises bathing in a citrus-scented product to repel the bugs. 

  4. Chelmsford is as hot as Miami - but what's the temperature where you are?

    On the rare occasion we have hot weather, certain national newspapers will print a headline along the lines of "Britain hotter than Ibiza" etc.

    Well, the BBC has now created a way to compare the temperature where you are with more than 50 cities around the world. 

    As hot as chart

    ... and yes, that's right, Chelmsford is currently as hot as Miami.   

    Have a go yourself here.

  5. Family cut off by tide in Southend is one of a number of incidents dealt with by RNLI

    Talking about the warm weather, there is more serious side to enjoying the sunshine safely (public service broadcast alert).

    Mulberry Harbour

    The RNLI is warning about the dangers of the coastline after crews in Southend had to rescue a family cut off by the incoming tide near to the Mulberry Harbour yesterday.

    It was one of several incidents over the weekend, including one in which a man west of the pier was waist-deep in water, that lifeboat teams had to attend to as thousands flocked to the seaside. 

  6. Heatwave warning issued for Essex

    After months of moaning about the cold and rain, chances are there's a person in your office who has already muttered the words "it's too hot today".

    They may be annoying, but they do actually have a point as the Met Office has issued a "level two" heat warning for Essex. 


    It says there is a "80% probability" of heatwave conditions between now and 18:00 on Thursday.

    So if you're heading out to enjoy the sunshine remember, slip, slap, slop. 

  7. Cricket club 'doesn't use harmful chemicals'

    Earlier we told you about a spate of suspected dog poisonings on a field close to the Eight Ash Green Cricket field in Fordham Heath. 

    The club has told us it was aware of reports of suspected poisonings and "wishes to confirm that it does not use any chemicals that will prove harmful to animals or wildlife".  

    Cricket field

    You can read the full story here.   

  8. Photos of Lord Hanningfield arriving at court today

    This was Lord Hanningfield as he arrived at Southwark Crown Court earlier today.

    Lord Hanningfield arriving at Southwark Crown Court
    Lord Hanningfield arriving at Southwark Crown Court
    Lord Hanningfield arriving at Southwark Crown Court
  9. Short time in the House of Lords 'explained by my ill health', Lord Hanningfield says

    Simon Dedman

    BBC Essex political reporter

    Here's the full statement released by Lord Hanningfield after he was acquitted of submitting false expenses claims today.

    Quote Message: I am relieved the matter has come to an end. I always maintained that I carried out Parliamentary work on the dates in question away from the House and that my short time in the House on those dates was explained by my ill health.” from Lord Hanningfield
    Lord Hanningfield
  10. Acquitted peer had served time over expenses fraud

    In May 2011 Lord Hanningfield, was convicted of six counts of false accounting relating to nearly £14,000 of Parliamentary expenses. 

    Lord Hanningfield

    He was jailed for nine months after claiming money for overnight stays in London when he had actually returned home to Essex.

    He also fraudulently claimed for train fares and car mileage. 

  11. Who is Lord Hanningfield?

    You may be asking yourself that question, but Lord Hanningfield, or Paul White, was elected as a councillor in 1970 before going on to lead Essex County Council between 2001 and 2010. 

    Lord Hanningfield

    When he was ennobled in 1998, he took the title of Lord Hanningfield from his home village - West Hanningfield.

    The former livestock farmer was probably best known best known for a £1.5m scheme to reopen closed post offices in Essex and for announcing plans to set up a bank, nicknamed the "Bank of Essex", in partnership with Santander, to help local firms struggling to get finance during the recession.

    However, prosecution over his House of Lords expenses, for which he was jailed in 2011, put an end to his long political career. He stepped down as council leader the day he was charged. 

  12. Lord Hanningfield 'relieved' after he is acquitted over false expenses claims

    Simon Dedman

    BBC Essex political reporter

    Lord Hanningfield, who served on Essex County Council for 40 years, refused to do an interview with me after he was acquitted today. 

    Lord Hanningfield arriving at court

    However, in a statement issued via his solicitor, he said: "I am relieved the matter has come to an end." 

    The 75-year-old has paid back the £3,300 he claimed as his daily allowance for attending the House of Lords for 10 days in July 2013.

  13. Lord Hanningfield case 'did not fall under the jurisdiction of the criminal courts'

    Lord Hanningfield was accused of claiming about £3,300 in House of Lords allowances in 2013 that he wasn't entitled to. 

    Judge Alistair McCreath ruled the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the criminal courts and the 75-year-old was formally found not guilty of false accounting.

    Lord Hanningfield
  14. BreakingLord Hanningfield found not guilty over House of Lords false expenses claims

    The Conservative former leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, has been acquitted of submitting false expenses claims.

    Judge Alistair McCreath ruled the issue was a matter for Parliament at Southwark Crown Court this afternoon.

  15. In the news...

    Jack Warren

    BBC Local Live

    Here are the top stories we've covered on Essex Live so far today: 

    • Dog owners are being warned to avoid a field in Fordham Heath after reports of suspected dog poisonings
    • Essex Police receives about 400 hoax or inappropriate 999 calls every month, it reveals
    • The trial of the Conservative former leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, who is accused of falsely claiming expenses, has begun
  16. Weather: Generally very warm and dry with sunny spells

    BBC Weather

    A fine and dry afternoon with spells of strong sunshine making it feel very warm across the county, with the highest temperatures towards the west. 

    Maximum temperature: 28C (82F).


    If you're heading out for lunch, you'll find your local forecast via BBC Weather.

  17. Southend golfer Matthew Southgate shoots up world rankings after The Open

    It's been quite a week for Southend golfer Matthew Southgate. 

    Not only has he pocketed almost £90,000 after finishing joint 12th at The Open, he has shot up 100 places in the world rankings.

    Matthew Southgate

    The 27-year-old is now in the top 50 money-earners on the European Tour in 2016, banking over £428,000 this year. 

    Well done, Matt!

  18. Improvement work will disrupt rail services

    Caroline Kingdon

    BBC Local Live

    Rail passengers between Norwich and London are being advised to check before they travel ahead of improvement work this autumn and winter to deliver vital railway upgrades for the Crossrail programme and remove long-standing heat-related speed restrictions.

    The work will affect Abellio Greater Anglia trains into Liverpool Street on eight weekends from Saturday 17 September to Sunday 6 November, and will continue for a further 10 days over the Christmas and New Year period.

    Rail passengers on the platforms at London Liverpool Street

    The work programme includes the remodelling of a key junction at Shenfield to help deliver more reliable journeys for passengers by May 2017.  

    More overhead wires will be replaced between Shenfield and Liverpool Street to help reduce the impact of heat-related disruption during the summer when overhead wires sag and speed restrictions are imposed.

    Network Rail spokesman Richard Schofield said: "We understand the inconvenience and disruption that closing the railway causes but the initial and longer-term benefits for passengers are huge." 

  19. Listen: Caller rings 999 with rodent complaint

    A rodent in your house probably isn't the best use of the emergency services' time, but that didn't stop one man calling 999 for Essex Police's help.

    It's one of over 400 hoax or inappropriate calls the force receives each month. 

    In total, this telephone conversation wasted about two minutes of the operator's time...

    Video content

    Video caption: Rodent discovery prompts 999 call
  20. Lord Hanningfield in court over House of Lords expenses claims

    Simon Dedman

    BBC Essex political reporter

    The trial of the Conservative former leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, who is accused of falsely claiming expenses, has begun. 

    Lord Hanningfield

    The charge relates to House of Lords expenses of £3,300 in 2013. The 75-year-old, who's appearing at Southwark Crown Court, has previously denied the offence.  

    We'll bring you updates on this throughout the day.