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  1. Updates on Thursday 16 February 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's all for today

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

We're back at 06:00 GMT with more news, travel, weather and sport from the county. 

Is there something you'd like to tell us about? We'd love to hear from you.

You can get in touch on Twitter, on Facebook or by sending us an email.

'It's something I've always dreamed of and never thought I'd have'

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

We've been to meet one of the new residents of the new council houses in Gillingham, the first to be built in more than 40 years.

Brighter skies tomorrow

Rachel Mackley

Weather Presenter

A mild day ahead across the South East. Watch my forecast to find out more.

Aslef vote: RMT releases statement

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

This ballot was entirely a matter for Aslef and their Southern members. We have remained focused on the industrial and public campaign to protect the safety of the travelling public and to put access and safe operation before profits.

We will now look to take that campaign into its next phase working with our sister rail unions, the wider trade union movement and the passengers who use the railway.

We repeat the call to Southern to give the guarantee of a second, safety critical member of staff on their trains and to sit down with the unions in new talks around the issue of safe train dispatch."

Mick CashGeneral secretary of the RMT union

RMT union: 'We need further talks'

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Cash, says future talks with both unions are the only way forward.

Calls for smear test age to be lowered

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

The family of a young mother of four from Gravesend who died of cervical cancer is calling for the screening age to be lowered.

Severe accident: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe accident, between J4 for A228 Leybourne and J3 for M26.

M20 Kent - Heavy traffic and one lane closed on M20 London-bound between J4, A228 (Leybourne) and J3 M26, because of an accident.

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

Arriva Trains North warns of possible strike action

The Rail Workers union RMT has confirmed it is balloting 1,200 of its members at  Arriva Trains North for both strike action and action short of a strike. 

The latest row over staffing levels escalated after the company failed to give assurances on the future of the guard on their services. The ballot closes on 28 February.  

"Our focus is on protecting the jobs and pay of our people as we work to implement a modernisation programme that will maintain high safety standards, deliver better journeys and improve customer service."

Arriva Trains NorthSpokesperson

The union’s position on driver-only operation (DOO) is perfectly clear. We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train."

Rail, Maritime and Transport workers unionGeneral Secretary Mick Cash

Long queues at Dartford Crossing

BBC Travel

There have been long queues approaching the Dartford Crossing this afternoon after an accident involving two lorries and a car.

The accident happened just over the bridge, on the Kent side, and two lanes were closed on the M25 clockwise at the A282.

Dartford Crossing

Southern strike: Your views

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

There've been some mixed reactions to the latest news from these passengers at Brighton station.

Southern train

One in 10 trains in the UK was not on time last year, the Office of Rail and Road says.

Read more

'Ministers must get a grip'

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, has responded to a decision by drivers from the Aslef union to reject a deal with Southern.

It's no surprise that the drivers have rejected this proposed deal as the offer didn't include maintaining the presence of a guard on every train, which is key to safety.

It's now time for the government to step in and bring this line into public hands. Southern are running our service into the ground - and passengers deserve much better than warm words from ministers who have utterly failed to get a grip on the rail crisis.

Caroline Lucas Green MP for Brighton Pavilion

Department of Transport 'disappointed' by deal breakdown

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

It is disappointing that Aslef members have rejected the offer negotiated by their leaders at the TUC. The union leadership must now return to talks and work with their members on a deal they can back."

Department of Transport spokesman

How warm can it get?

Elizabeth Rizzini

BBC Look East weather

It's unseasonably mild out there. And there's no end in sight. Here's my latest forecast.

Aslef driver expresses safety concerns

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

This Aslef driver, who wanted to remain anonymous, told our reporter Juliette Parkin why he was against the deal with Southern to end the strike.

Aslef vote: Southern responds

In the last few moments Southern's parent company has issued a statement reacting to the Aslef vote rejecting their deal.

Naturally we’re saddened and hugely disappointed, as will be our passengers, with today’s decision by drivers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the Aslef leadership. We now need to understand the issues which led to this outcome and we’ll be seeking to meet with the union as soon as possible to see how we can agree a way forward.”

Nick BrownChief Operating Officer, Govia Thameslink Railway

How Aslef voted

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Here's a breakdown of how Aslef members voted over the Southern strike deal.

In favour of deal: 317: [45.9%]

Against deal:  374 [54.1%]

Turnout: 72.7%

We understand and support the decision arrived at democratically by our members and will now work to deliver a resolution in line with their expectations."

Mick WhelanAslef General Secretary

BreakingAslef workers reject Southern deal

Members of the Aslef union have voted against a deal with Southern that would've ended to their long-running dispute. 

More to follow.

Picture of scene taken by Toby Diamond

A teenager is charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving after 15 pedestrians were hurt, four seriously, when they were hit by a car.

Read more

Severe accident: M25 Kent clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Kent clockwise severe accident, between J1A for A282 and J1B for A282.

M25 Kent - One lane blocked on M25 clockwise between J1a, A282 (Swanscombe) and J1b, A282 (Dartford), because of an accident. Approach with care. Traffic is coping well.

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

All Rise... Blue singer Lee Ryan is joining EastEnders

Claire Cottingham

BBC Live reporter

The Chatham lad will be playing bad boy "Woody" Woodward when he hits Albert Square in the next few weeks.

Lee Ryan joins EastEnders

He's off to a great start, having successfully located the Albert Square road sign on some railings.    

As a member of Blue, Lee brought us anthems such as One Love and Too Close and even represented the UK at Eurovision in 2011. Quite the musical CV.

Lee is also no stranger to acting, having previously appeared alongside Vinnie Jones in The Heavy and in Holby City when he was a teenager. Now he's set to pop up in Albert Square. 

Severe accident: A225 Kent both ways

BBC News Travel

A225 Kent both ways severe accident, between Buckhurst Lane and Suffolk Way affecting Solefields Road.

A225 Kent - A225 High Street in Sevenoaks closed and slow traffic in both directions between the Buckhurst Lane junction and the Suffolk Way junction, because of an accident involving lorry and a pedestrian. Congestion to the Solefields Road junction and on A224 Tubs Hill to The Drive junction.

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

Where have all the butterflies gone?

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

There's been a dramatic decline of butterflies in towns and cities, according to a study at the University of Kent.


Researchers have discovered a rise in pollution, loss of brownfield sites and changes to gardens are behind a decline and over the last 20 years there's been a 69% reduction in urban areas. 

The report's authors say action must be taken to manage the environment.

Severe congestion: M25 Kent anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Kent anti-clockwise severe congestion, between J3 for M20 and A282 Dartford Tunnel.

M25 Kent - Queuing traffic on M25 anticlockwise between J3, M20 (Swanley Interchange) and A282, Dartford River Crossing. All lanes have been re-opened.

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

Man charged following serious Medway collision

Officers investigating a serious collision on the Medway City Estate have charged a man.

Fifteen pedestrians were injured, including four seriously, following the incident on Sir Thomas Longley Road at about 22:15 GMT on Friday 30 September 2016.

18-year-old Harlee Pendergast from London, was arrested at the scene of the collision and has now been charged with four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.He has been bailed to appear before Medway magistrates on 14 March. 

Two men charged following Dover burglary

Two men are to appear in court charged with burglary offences in Dover.

George Fordham, 21, and Jordan Wills, 21, were each charged with one count of burglary.

The charges relate to the burglary of a property in Folkestone Road, Dover on Tuesday.

Bullying review at ambulance service

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

An independent review is to be carried out into concerns about bullying and harassment at the South East Coast Ambulance Service.  

Severe accident: A2 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

A2 Kent westbound severe accident, between A260 and A2050.

A2 Kent - A2 Dover Road blocked and heavy traffic westbound between the A260 junction in Derringstone and the A2050 junction in Bridge, because of an accident involving a car and a van.

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

Lamppost collision death

A man has died after his car hit a lamppost in Willington Street, Maidstone. 

Kent Police was called at 16:27 GMT on Wednesday 15 February after reports a car had crashed.

The driver, a 75-year-old local man, passed away at the scene.

Concern over rise in anti-depressant prescriptions

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

More and more people in the South East are being prescribed anti-depressants, according to the NHS.

The biggest rises were in areas associated with social deprivation, such as Thanet and Hastings and Rother.

'He packed in more than I've done in my lifetime'

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

The mother of a teenager from Kent who drowned at a popular fishing lake has spoken out for the first time since he died last year.  

Councillor spends two weeks at refugee camp

Rajdeep Sandhu

Political Reporter, BBC Radio Kent

"Not all refugees want to come to the UK" - that's according to the Medway councillor Nausahbah Khan, after spending two weeks in a camp for Syrian refugees in Greece, which currently has 440 people living there. 

Here's a glimpse of what life is like living in a refugee camp.

Put the umbrellas and warm jumpers away

Rachel Mackley

Weather Presenter

There's a real mixed bag of weather on the way. But it should stay dry and mild.  

Good morning

Claire Cottingham

BBC Live reporter

It's one step closer to the weekend and we'll be here until 22:00 GMT.

To start the day here's a great pic of Bonnington by Katy Martha - it's our #photooftheday.

Katy Martha

Is there something you'd like to tell us about? Or have you got a lovely picture to send us? We'd love to hear from you.

You can get in touch on Twitter, on Facebook or by sending us an email.