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The Argus: Momentum's leaked manifesto for Brighton and Hove

Kent Online: Mum 'smashed foot to smithereens' in pavement fall

Get Surrey: More than 41,000 potholes reported in Surrey in 12 months

Chichester Observer: Midhurst’s Richardson’s Travel goes into administration

Eastbourne Herald: Sussex Nightstop launches campaign to combat youth homelessness

Crawley and Horley Observer: Ifield residents’ chance to discuss their community

Worthing Herald: Medical group to merge with Littlehampton surgeries to form '40,000 patient practice'

Mid Sussex Times: Nearly one in three jobseekers in Mid Sussex are over 50

Brighton and Hove News: Man charged with murdering Abdul Deghayes appears in Brighton court

Hastings Observer: BBC’s Antiques Roadshow is coming to Battle

Brighton and Hove Independent: New group for children with a love for nature

Plans to tackle social isolation and loneliness

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Kent County Council plans to set up a taskforce focused on tackling social isolation and loneliness.

Councillors from the select committee researching the issue have recommended their work continues to ensure residents in Kent don't feel isolated or lonely.

Data from the Kent Public Health Observatory suggests over 65s who feel lonely are at higher risk of serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and depression.

Social isolation and loneliness was put in the national public health agenda when an independent commission was set up in MP Jo Cox's memory at the end of 2017.

Members of the select committee are recommending the council broadens its research to include young people, carers and disabled residents.

These plans would see the council setting up a panel tasked with analysing whether social isolation and loneliness is being addressed.

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More than 170 firearms handed in during gun amnesty

Residents handed in 172 firearms and nearly 4,000 rounds of ammunition during Kent Police’s firearms surrender.

The campaign allowed people to dispose of unwanted or illegally held firearms or ammunition.

Officers received various firearms including pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles and air weapons.

The initiative ran between 21 January and 6 February.

Watermarked AK-47
Kent Police
This deactivated Kalashnikov AK-47 was handed in as part of the surrender

Cash boost to tackle county lines drugs trade

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Drugs
PA

More than £80,000 has been donated to a charity to prevent young people in Kent being groomed into a life of drugs and crime.

Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott and the Home Office have promised funds to St Giles Trust in a bid to reduce the amount of children exploited by gang leaders operating at county lines.

The PCC is investing £614,000 from his commissioning budget over the next three years while the Home Office is contributing £202,000.

Speaking at his Violence Reduction Challenge summit in Maidstone, Mr Scott said: "This is a fantastic new partnership with my office, the Home Office and St Giles Trust to try and continue the work to tackle county lines and violent crime within our county.

"We know that we do have a footprint of gangs from London and other places, trying to exploit our young people.

"This will enable St Giles Trust and the police to bear down on these crimes."

St Giles Trust has been working in Kent to help those affected by county lines drug dealing turn their lives around since 2017.

It has been running a pilot scheme in east Kent so this funding would provide a more permanent solution to help prevent at risk people joining gangs.

PMQs: Corbyn and May on Seaborne ferry contract
The PM says there was "due diligence", over its post-Brexit ferry plan, but Jeremy Corbyn is "impressed" she could "keep a straight face".
Cases of children abusing their parents 'on the rise'
Charities say they've had increased referrals for "child-to-parent violence".
Chris Grayling on ending Seaborne Freight ferry contract
The transport secretary's handling of a contract to run a post-Brexit freight ferry service has descended from a "debacle" to a "Whitehall farce", says the shadow minister.

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Life expectancy gap between deprived and well-off areas

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Men who live in deprived areas of Kent can expect their lives to be nine years shorter than those who live in more affluent parts of the county.

A study by Kent County Council showed men from poorer districts have a life expectancy of around 74 years compared to 83 in richer areas.

The annual joint strategic needs assessment exceptions report also revealed women who live in poor areas have their lives cut short by an average of six years - living to 80 compared to 86 for those who are better off.

The report, presented at the Kent health and wellbeing board on 7 February, also outlined that the Kent population is due to grow by 74,800 - 5% - from 2019 to 2024, with older people the fastest growing group.

Man in hospital after early hours assault

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

A man's been treated in hospital after being attacked near Ramsgate seafront this morning.

The man, who's in his 40s, was found just after 03:10 GMT, after police were called to Harbour Parade.

He's been taken to hospital with injuries to his head and face.

Harbour Parade, Ramsgate
Google
Police were called to Harbour Parade in the early hours of this morning

A patrol car which responded to the emergency call was also damaged.

A 24-year-old man from Gravesend is in custody on suspicion of assault and affray, and causing criminal damage.

Man arrested after driving off cliff is released

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

The Peugeot smashed though a road barrier and off the side of a cliff
Kent Police

A car plunged down a cliff after the driver failed to stop for officers during a police pursuit.

The Peugeot crashed through a cliff barrier on Victoria Parade in Ramsgate, Kent at 00:25 GMT on Thursday and fell over the edge.

The man, in his 30s, was taken to a London hospital and treated for serious injuries before being discharged.

He was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drink or drugs, and subsequently released under investigation.

Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with dashcam footage to get in touch.

Police tax rise to fund 180 more officers

An extra 180 police officers are to be recruited in 2019-20 after Kent and Medway's Police and Crime Panel approved the move.

Ninety will go into local policing and and 90 into crime investigation teams to tackle issues such as domestic abuse and sexual violence.

It will bring the number of full-time officers to 3,632, returning the force to 96% of its peak strength from a decade ago, police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott said.

He said funds would come from raising the police share of the council tax - equivalent to £2 a month for an average Band D property.

Witness appeal after motorist careered down cliff

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

The car following the crash
Kent Police
The car following the crash

A motorist careered down a Kent cliff in his car during a police pursuit, after he failed to stop for officers.

At 00:25 GMT the Peugeot crashed through a cliff barrier on Victoria Parade, Ramsgate.

The man, in his 30s, was taken to a London hospital and treated for serious injuries before being discharged.

He was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drink or drugs, and remains in police custody.

Officers are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen the Peugeot prior to or at the time of the collision, or who have dashcam footage to get in contact.

Bridge reopens but delays remain

The M25 near Swanley
Highways England
The M25 near Swanley

The QEII bridge has been reopened after it was closed this morning due to high winds.

The east bore tunnel is also in the process of being reopened to traffic heading out of Kent, after being used as a contraflow.

However, long delays remain on both the Kent and Essex side of the crossing.

Surrounding routes are gridlocked including the M25, A2, M2 and A13.

Dartford town centre is also congested, and people are advised to allow extra time for their journeys.

Severe disruption after crossing closure

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Dartford crossing traffic
Highways England

There is severe congestion around the Dartford Crossing due to 60mph crosswinds closing the QEII bridge.

In Kent, there are tailbacks on all surrounding major routes, including up to 17 miles on the A2 and M2 to the Blue Bell Hill junction/A229.

The M25 anti-clockwise is slow from Swanley.

The tunnel is operating a contraflow system, with clockwise M25 traffic from Essex being diverted via the east tunnel.

Extra funding for Kent Police

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

A hike in council tax for Kent Police has been approved despite a report raising questions over whether the force is value for money.

More than 1,300 people across Kent completed a survey and rated the force's cost efficiency an average of five out of 10.

Yet from April the bill is set to increase by 14.2% - the highest possible jump - equivalent to £24 for residents in Band D homes.

This will raise £16.6m which will be used to pay for 180 police officers and 15 staff salaries.

This increase was proposed by the Minister of Policing Nick Hurd to address the cost pressures on the police across the country.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott told the Kent and Medway crime panel he has decided on the increase to address the demand on the force.

Call for more councillors in Kent

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Parish and town councils in Kent are looking for people to sign up for elections in May.

Members of the community are invited to step forward to represent their towns and villages for an average three hours a week.

Councillors attend meetings, speak to residents and help make a difference in their neighbourhood.

There are more than 305 councils on the first tier of local government across Kent and Medway.

Local councils across the county have run un-contested elections or people are co-opted in due to the lack of interest.

The Kent Association of Local Councils is calling on passionate people who want to make a difference to stand up for the elections.

'I honestly thought I was going to die'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Punched, abused, spat at - train staff say this is part of their daily lives.

Snow brought down 200 trees in Kent woodland

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

This weekend saw enough snow fall across Medway to bring down nearly 200 trees in Walderslade woods.

Firearms surrender extended by two days

Sue Nicholson

BBC News

Kent Police have extended their firearms surrender by two days.

Members of the public now have until Sunday to hand in unwanted or illegally-held firearms and ammunition.

Those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for illegal possession and can remain anonymous.

Since the start of the initiative, on 21 January, more than 120 firearms - including shotguns, pistols and air weapons - have been handed in, along with about 2,000 rounds of ammunition.

Det Ch Insp Patrick Holmes said it had been an excellent response.

Snow and ice warnings remain in place

Sue Nicholson

BBC News

Snow in Seaford
@laviniafieldsen

Met Office weather warnings for snow and ice remain in place across the South East, though by lunchtime temperatures are expected to nudge towards 4C, with any remaining sleet and snow turning to rain.

Many parts of the region have woken up to snow, with Sussex bearing the brunt.

Last night, some drivers were forced to abandon their cars on the A259 at Seaford.

Brighton and Hove Buses also had to cancel all services from about 22:00 GMT.

Gatwick Airport saw flurries, although it advised passengers it was planning on operating as normal on Friday.

East Sussex snow
Eddie Mitchell

On the rail network, Southern, Thameslink, and Gatwick Express were expected to run normally, although passengers have been urged to check before they travel in case the conditions impact services.

However, Southeastern is running its "winter weather" timetable, which has seen 21 trains either cancelled or changed to minimise the impact of ice on the rails.

South Western Railway said over-running engineering works between Weybridge and Earlsfield could result in some disruption to services up until 11:00 GMT.

Today's local news website headlines

A newspaper printing press
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The Argus: Bomb scare over hand grenade in Hove

Kent Online: Postman's finger bitten off by dog

Get Surrey: M25 closed near A3 following fatal crash

Chichester Observer: Firefighters help police remove men from unsafe building

Brighton and Hove Independent: Brighton and Hove remains a hotspot for homelessness

Eastbourne Herald: Man stole more than £1,000 of beauty products from Boots

Crawley and Horley Observer: High chance of ‘heavy snow’ across Sussex

Worthing Herald: Plans for Worthing's Teville Gate House finally revealed

Hastings Observer: Bexhill siblings reveal misery on board ‘building site’ cruise ship

Man arrested over drugs haul in Sevenoaks

Three black buckets containing cannabis.
Kent Police

A suspected drug dealer has been arrested in Sevenoaks in connection with the seizure of three buckets of cannabis.

Suspected Class A drugs, found in wraps made from betting slips, were also seized from an address in Queen’s Drive, as well as around £1,000 in cash.

Plain clothes police officers were alerted to a suspicious vehicle at around 14:30 GMT on Tuesday.

They followed it to Queen's Drive, where the driver is reported to have run from vehicle and into a property, where he was arrested.

Police seized suspected cocaine, as well as cannabis estimated to weigh between 3-4kg.

A 37-year-old man, from Sevenoaks, was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply, and released pending further investigation.

Council fined for issuing an illegal parking ticket

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Kent County Council has been ordered to pay a motorist £100 for issuing a parking ticket illegally.

The Local Government Ombudsman found the council issued penalty charge notices on public land through a private contractor, which is against the rules.

The person who was charged with the fine, at the pay and display car park at Lullingstone Country Park, also said he was told by the contractor he must pay the charge before he appealed, but that once the charge was paid he lost his right to an appeal.

The ombudsman Michael King warned other local authorities to follow the "correct process".

"While councils have every right to charge people for parking at their country parks, and motorists can expect consequences for not paying, councils must ensure they are issuing any parking penalties under the correct process," he said.

KCC's cabinet member for community and regulatory services Mike Hill said he was “naturally disappointed” with the LGO's decision.

"KCC's legal advice was that our enforcement process was correct. However, we have decided to accept the LGO's decision,” he said.

Sign language contract ended

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Kent County Council is cancelling its contract with the Royal Association for Deaf People and hiring in-house professionals to communicate through sign language.

KCC's manager of sensory disabilities Beryl Palmer said: "For deaf people, interpreting services are absolutely critical and they need a service that provides their own language so they can access services.

"There are no cost-savings attached to what we are doing at all but what we are expecting is to be able to be more efficient and reduce the duplication that's currently happening in the system."

Video remote interpreting and video relay interpreting services will also be launched as part of the new plans.

Is Kent prepped for snow?

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Kent gritters ready for action
@GrittingKent

With snow predicted both this week and next, Kent County Council said it is ready for action.

A spokesman said the decision on whether to grit the roads is made by road surface temperature (RST) which is different from the air temperature.

Should the roads need gritting the council has:

  • 60 gritters
  • Five mini gritters
  • 21,000 tonnes of salt
  • Support from 117 farmers to help plough 208 rural routes
  • 2,000 salt bins for public use

Of the 2,500 miles covered by KCC, there are 53 primary salting routes covering 1,600 miles of road.

It prioritises A and B roads, commuter routes, and roads which become particularly hazardous in icy conditions.

New medical school seeks financial help

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Professor Chris Holland
BBC
Professor Chris Holland

The dean of the under-construction Kent and Medway Medical School said it currently does not have the money it needs to open.

Professor Chris Holland told councillors at Kent County Council the school is underwritten by two universities, but they only provide half the funding required.

The Canterbury site is due to open in September 2020, and student fees will provide extra funding.

But in order to build new facilities in time the school is seeking financial help from the NHS, the council, and gift donations from wealthy philanthropists.