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  1. Updates for Wednesday, 3 May, 2017
  2. Red Arrows confirm two-day Clacton Airshow
  3. Massive delays around the Dartford Crossing after M25 crash
  4. 17 people to face trial over Stansted Airport protest
  5. Buglife plays down caterpillar 'invasion'
  6. A dull, cloudy day, highs of 11C (52F)

Live Reporting

By Orla Moore

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage for today

That's it for our live updates for the day, and the week.

What a day it's been. We started early, bringing you all the news on the Essex County Council elections.

Scroll down to find out how the Tories strengthened their control of the county.

Meanwhile, we also brought you news of how one of the two boys rescued from a fire on Monday has died.

There is more on that story below.

Whatever you're up to this weekend, have a great one.

Tories' vote share in East trumps national average

Deborah McGurran

BBC East political editor

These elections have seen UKIP wiped off the county council political map. Most surprisingly, they lost every single seat in Essex, an area that fostered their growth and of course, until recently boasted their only MP. In all they lost 48 seats across the east and now have no representation across its six counties.

The Conservatives appear to be the beneficiary. They have regained control of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and strengthened their grip on Essex, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire.

Labour held on in some of its heartland seats but suffered elsewhere, particularly in Stevenage and Harlow, where the Conservatives made gains.

Conservative candidate Dick Madden celebrates

It was a mixed picture for the Liberal Democrats who lost seats on Essex, Suffolk and Northamptonshire but they made some gains from the Conservatives in Norfolk.

The Green Party lost their stronghold in Norwich but made a gain in Suffolk where they now hold three county council  seats.

The vote share from yesterday's local elections confirms that across the east the Conservatives are once again the dominant party.

With all the votes counted, the Tories share of the vote ranged from 43% in Suffolk and Essex to a staggering 51% in Northamptonshire. The national average appears to be about 38%.

Labour saw a small surge in support in its traditional heartlands and its average share across the region was 13.7%. But that's way below the national average of 27% and shows how little support the party has in our region.

Essex's share of Conservative vote higher than national average

In Essex, the Conservative party gained 184,901 votes in yesterday's local elections - 49.51% of the vote.

It's higher than the national projected vote share for the Tories, which stands at 38%.

The projected national share figures are what the share of the vote would be if all parts of Britain had local elections and had voted in the same way as Thursday's English County Council elections.  

Weather: Mild tonight, cloudy and cooler tomorrow

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

This evening it will be staying mostly fine with some areas of cloud at times. One or two spots of drizzle possible overnight, but staying mild.

Winds will be moderate, with lows of 7C (45F).

Weather map

It will be a rather cloudy start to the day tomorrow. Generally cloudier than today with some brighter spells, but feeling cooler.

Winds light to moderate and highs of 10C (50F) on the coast and 14C (57F) inland.

There's more at BBC Weather.

UKIP fails to win Essex seat as Tories strengthen hold
The Conservatives have taken an extra 14 seats to increase their hold on Essex County Council.

Severe disruption: M25 Essex clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Essex clockwise severe disruption, between J26 for A121 and J27 for M11 affecting J25 for A10.

M25 Essex - One lane blocked and very slow traffic on M25 clockwise between J26, A121 (Waltham Abbey) and J27 M11, because of an earlier vehicle fire. Congestion to J25, A10 (Enfield).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

VIDEO: County council election results explained

Simon Dedman

BBC Essex political reporter

A UKIP wipeout, losses for Labour and the Lib Dems, and an increased Tory majority - BBC Essex political editor Simon Dedman explains how Essex County Council looks after last night's election results.

VIDEO: Love cricket?

Then you'll love Around the Wicket on BBC Essex.

It's the biggest dedicated county cricket radio programme on the BBC.

Paul Hawkins will be joined by a host of special guests, talking about all the news from Essex County Cricket Club and grassroots cricket.

Join him every Saturday on BBC Essex at 14:00.

View more on facebook

Football: Colchester to play Yeovil in crunch match

Colchester United are gearing up for a crunch match as they cling onto hopes of making into the play-offs. 

John McGreal
Mick Walker/CameraSport/Getty Images

The U's must beat Yeovil at home tomorrow to stand any chance of reaching the top seven in League Two. 

McGreal's side will then need results of other games to go their way.

The head coach said his players will be made aware of how the scores are going in the other matches.

He said: "Everyone is kicking off at 1730, everyone will know the results. 

"Hopefully there's going to be a hefty crowd coming as well. I'm sure there'll be relaying it back around the stadium. 

"I think that's exciting talking about what's going on. 

"A couple of years ago we were at the wrong end of the table against Preston and you knew what was going on, you could feel the tension in the air, you could cut it with a knife, and we got a win. Hopefully we can do that again this coming Saturday."

Rooting out the next generation


Kids playing All Stars Cricket

Know any young children who might be interested in having a go at cricket?

Now's the time to get them involved with the England & Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) grassroots programme for five- to eight-year-olds called All Stars Cricket.

All Stars Cricket is an eight-week course that is being introduced in May through local cricket clubs and centres, offering youngsters a first experience of the sport.  

Sign up here and children will receive a backpack of cricket gear. 

Police seize 250 vehicles for no insurance and licence offences

Essex Police seized 250 vehicles which had no insurance or where drivers had committed other licence offences.

They were caught by police within one month.

View more on twitter

Town owner maintains his £765m fortune

East Anglian Daily Times

Here's the front page of today's Essex edition of the East Anglian Daily Times

EADT Essex edition 050517

Severe disruption: M25 Essex clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Essex clockwise severe disruption, between J26 for A121 and J27 for M11 affecting J24 for A111.

M25 Essex - An earlier vehicle fire on M25 clockwise between J26, A121 (Waltham Abbey) and J27 M11. All lanes have been re-opened. Congestion to J24, A111 (Potters Bar).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Pitsea fire death: Flowers laid in memory of boy

Chris Flynn

BBC Essex

Flowers have been laid in memory of a young boy who died after a bungalow fire.

Flowers laid outside the fire-ravaged bungalow

As we've reported, the youngest of two brothers who were rescued from a blaze at Beambridge, Pitsea, died last night

The fire broke out at about 15:15 on Monday.

Firefighters rescued the two boys, aged 10 and 13, who were trapped inside the property. They were taken to hospital.

The 13-year-old boy remains in a critical but stable condition.

A joint police and fire investigation found the cause of the fire was accidental.

Flowers laid outside the fire-ravaged bungalow

Severe accident: M25 Greater London clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London clockwise severe accident, after J28 for A1023 Brook Street.

M25 Greater London - Slow traffic on M25 clockwise after J28, A1023 (Brook Street Roundabout), because of an accident, which is now on the hard shoulder.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Weather: Dry and breezy with clouds moving in

BBC Weather Watchers

It's a dry and rather breezy day out there with variable cloud amounts and some sunny spells. 

Skies are expected to gradually cloud over as the day progresses. 

In the sunshine it will feel pleasantly warm, but it will be cooler where exposed to the wind. 

Highs of 15C (59F).

Thanks to our BBC Weather Watchers for taking these snaps across the county.

West Bergholt

Police investigate nightclub sexual assault

A woman was sexually assaulted while on a night out in Chelmsford.

Bar & Beyond nightclub Chelmsford

Police would like to speak to the man captured in the CCTV image below in connection with the incident in Bar & Beyond nightclub, Chelmsford.

It happened at about 00:30 on Sunday.

CCTV image from Bar & Beyond nightclub
Essex Police

Kitchen blaze leaves family homeless

A family's been left homeless after a fire destroyed their house. 

Middlefield Road, Mistley

Crews were called to Middlefield Road, Mistley, just after 19:00 last night. 

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was in the kitchen and the house was "completely full of smoke".

The blaze was brought until control within 30 minutes.

It started when the fridge-freezer caught alight, the fire service said.

No-one was hurt but the house is "no longer inhabitable" due to smoke damage.

UKIP deputy leader to stand for Essex seat

The deputy leader of UKIP has announced he will stand for the South Basildon and East Thurrock seat at the general election.

Peter Whittle

Peter Whittle said he hopes to "go one better" than 2015 when UKIP came second in votes for the constituency.

He said: "Basildon and East Thurrock voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union last year and deserves an MP who will truly stand up for their views.

"UKIP are the only party that want to see the type of Brexit that people voted for last June, so that we can get back control of our borders and our laws."

He said priorities will include the NHS, a reform of the House of Lords and the fight against armed forces and police cuts.

Leyton Orient fans

The EFL has "no regret" over the "difficult decision" to suspend Leyton Orient's match against Colchester and restart it later.

Read more
Pitsea fire

The boy's 13-year-old brother remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition.

Read more

Boy dies after bungalow fire

A boy hurt in a bungalow fire has died.

Pitsea fire

Emergency services were called to Beambridge, Pitsea, at about 15:15pm on Monday.

Two brothers aged 10 and 13 were trapped inside the property. 

They were rescued and taken to hospital. Both boys were later transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The younger of the two boys died last night. His older brother remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition. 

A joint fire and police investigation has concluded the cause of the fire was not suspicious. A file will be prepared for the coroner.

Round up: Tories retain Essex County Council

If you haven't heard already, all of the votes have been counted and the political makeup of Essex County Council looks like this:

  • Conservatives - 56 seats
  • Liberal Democrats - 7 seats
  • Labour – 6 seats
  • Independent - 2 seats
  • Canvey Island Independent Party - 2 seats
  • Independent Loughton Residents Association - 1 seat
  • Green - 1 seat

That means the Conservatives have an increased majority of 37 seats.

To see the result for where you live, click here.

Then and now: The political landscape of Essex County Council

Graphic showing the changes in composition at Essex County Council

So, the results are in. But what about the General Election?

Simon Dedman

BBC Essex political reporter

The Conservatives have just smashed the Essex county council elections.  June’s general election looks like a great chance for the Tories to take all eighteen seats in Essex.  

UKIP came second four years ago - now they don’t have a single county councillor after their vote collapsed, including in Clacton where the party won their only Westminster seat.  

Labour were wiped out in Harlow in Thursday’s locals and the town is one of their best chances of getting an MP.  

A Colchester comeback for the Lib Dems is possible, with former MP Sir Bob Russell standing, but they went backwards Thursday in their old backyard.

Essex turns its back on UKIP... Will the rest of East Anglia follow?

Andrew Sinclair

BBC Look East political correspondent

Four years ago everyone was talking about Essex and UKIP. The party which, until then, had only ever done well under the proportional representation system of European elections, had suddenly burst onto the local political stage. 

Once again the words Essex and UKIP dominate this morning's headlines. 

The county which once boasted some of the strongest support for UKIP in the country has turned its back on the party. 

"People can't get enough of Theresa May at the moment, she can do no wrong," one 'Kipper told me at the start of the campaign. 

"It's a struggle getting our message heard at the moment," another told me only last week. 

 And from what I'm hearing, that picture is going to be repeated today across the east. 

The other parties tell me that in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, the UKIP campaign has been virtually non-existent. 

Voters in this Brexit-supporting region feel its purpose is done. Party workers are said to be disillusioned.

But while today's story may be the demise of UKIP, Labour should also be braced for a terrible day. 

The Conservatives tell me that Labour voters are switching to them in large numbers, something borne out by the results from Essex. And at the moment there's no sign of the predicted Lib Dem surge.  

In Pictures: The Essex County Council elections

Laurence Cawley

BBC News

Here's a montage of the various images sent in by our correspondents who were out at the counts across the county in the early hours.

The night in pictures

'Given a mandate,' says council leader

Laurence Cawley

BBC News

The biggest majority on the night was won by current leader of Essex County Council, Conservative David Finch in the Hedingham ward. 

He said: "I am delighted to have been given a mandate from the people of Essex to continue to carry on our work to make the county the best place to live and work, where our most vulnerable people are protected as well as given the chance to live independent lives.

“I am also looking forward to continuing to work in our new organisation as we restructure and change our culture in order to meet the challenges and opportunities we will face over the coming months.”

David Finch

In Detail: Basildon Westley Heights

Laurence Cawley

BBC News

One of the surprising results of the night was the huge majority won by former UKIP member Kerry Smith in Basildon Westley Heights. 

Here's the result:

  • Jack Ferguson (Lab) 546
  • Andrew Schrader (Con) 1,329
  • Kerry Smith (Ind) 3,341
  • Banjamin Williams (Lib Dem) 294

Mr Smith, who stood as an independent, said the result was a reflection of his "hard work".

Kerry Smith

In Detail: Harlow North

Laurence Cawley

BBC News

The Harlow North election saw Mike Danvers, who was deputy leader of the Labour group on the county council, lose his seat to Tory Michael Garnett. 

Michael Garnett
Michael Garnett won the seat for the Conservatives


  • Michael Garnett (Con): 2,512
  • Michael Danvers (Lab): 2,036
  • Lesley Rideout (LD): 379

'We are not a spent force,' says UKIP candidate

One of the headlines of the Essex county council elections was UKIP failing to win a single seat.

UKIP's Mark Ellis, who lost his Laindon Park and Fryerns division seat to the Conservatives, said: "People are listening to Theresa May - and she is pretty UKIP in my opinion - and unfortunately people are thinking UKIP is a spent force, which we are not.

"UKIP is here to stay."

Mark Ellis

Essex votes: The night in pictures

Richard Smith

BBC Essex

Here are some photos from the election count in Essex, which saw the Conservatives retain overall control.

The count in Colchester
The count in Colchester
Dick Madden
Dick Madden, second left, celebrates after keeping Chelmsford Central and Moulsham Street
Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith gives the thumbs-up after regaining his Basildon Westley Heights seat as an Independent
The count in Harwich
The count in Harwich
thumb rubbers
Secret tools of the vote counters!

'A sea of blue' expands across Essex

Simon Dedman

BBC Essex political reporter

This is how Essex looks this morning following the county council election. After 2013, we had a pretty blue county but there were certainly a few more blobs of colours other than blue in there.

While we now have some small pockets of other colours, Essex is now pretty much a sea of blue.

View more on twitter

Tories rampant as UKIP wiped out in Essex

Ian Puckey

BBC Essex Political Producer

Welcome to Friday's coverage, where we're starting with results of the county council elections.

The Conservatives have bolstered their hold of Essex County Council while UKIP has lost all nine of the seats it won in 2013.

Count in Chelmsford

In 2013, the Tories won 42 seats, while UKIP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats took nine seats each.

The Conservatives now hold 56 seats, the Liberal Democrats seven and Labour six. The Canvey Island Independent Party holds two seats, Independents two, Green one and Independent Loughton Residents Association one.

Conservatives hold Essex

Conservative candidate for Chelmsford Central, Dick Madden celebrates after retaining his seat in the Essex County Council local elections

The Conservatives have retained control in Essex, winning 50 of the 75 seats with a few wards still to declare.

Pictured is Councillor Dick Madden, who celebrated retaining his seat.

Severe disruption: M25 Essex anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Essex anti-clockwise severe disruption, after J27 for M11.

M25 Essex - One lane closed and heavy traffic on M25 anticlockwise after J27 M11, because of a broken down van.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Our live coverage today

That's it for our live updates for the day.

The Essex County Council vote is ending at 22:00 with the first results due in at about midnight.

Tune in to BBC Essex for a special election programme, starting from 22:00.

And join us again in the morning to find out all the latest news.

Have a great evening.

Man jailed for 20 years for sex offences

A man has been jailed for 20 years for sex offences against four women. 

Saulius Zilinskas
Essex Police

Saulius Zilinskas, 41, of Laindon, was found guilty at Basildon Crown Court yesterday of three counts of rape, two of attempted rape, two counts of false imprisonment, two assaults and one count of sexual touching. 

Three of the women were assaulted in Laindon on 21, February 2015. Two of the attacks happened within 20 minutes of each others.

Yesterday's sentencing also related to the rape of another woman in London in January 2005. 

Zilinskas was made subject to an eight-year extended licence.

Severe accident: M25 Greater London anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London anti-clockwise severe accident, before J29 for A127.

M25 Greater London - Queuing traffic and two lanes blocked on M25 anticlockwise before J29, A127 (Romford), because of an accident involving at least two cars and a lorry.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Rail company denies large scale ticket office closures

Greater Anglia says it has "no plans to reduce the number of Greater Anglia ticket offices to seven".

It released the statement after the RMT union said this morning that 57 ticket offices were to close, with only offices at London Liverpool Street, Colchester, Norwich, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich and Stansted Airport staying open.  

The rail company said it was "reviewing responses to a public consultation about proposals to close seven little-used ticket offices" at Walton-on-the-Naze, Thorpe-le-Soken, Alresford, Great Bentley, Dovercourt, Harwich International and Great Chesterford.

It added it would "continue to consult with our colleagues and the trades unions on any proposed changes to ticket office arrangements".

Greater Anglia train

Greater Anglia said there would be "no job losses as a result of the current proposals to close seven ticket offices".

The RMT union has responded saying it stands by its statement.