England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Footbridge to be replaced three years after collapse

East Street footbridge
Highways England

Work is due to start this weekend on the construction of a footbridge over the M20 which collapsed after being hit by a lorry carrying a digger in 2016.

The East Street bridge had to be demolished after being hit in August 2016, Highways England said.

The crash caused a section of bridge to fall onto the M20

Peter Phillips, Highways England South East route sponsor, said: "Replacing a footbridge which has been struck in an incident is a big piece of work.

"It requires a lot of preparation in terms of designing the structure and planning the installation, and takes time to construct."

The M20 will be closed London-bound between junctions four and three overnight on Sunday and Monday from 20:00-06:00 BST, Highways England said.

Three swimmers and kayaker rescued by coastguard teams

Sue Nicholson

BBC News

Margate RNLI inshore lifeboat 'Alfred Alexander Staden'
RNLI Margate

Three swimmers in distress off the coast of Margate have been rescued by the coastguard and lifeguards.

HM Coastguard received several 999 calls at about 12:30 BST on Wednesday, reporting a woman had fallen off an airbed off Foreness Point.

When the lifeboat arrived a man and a woman were found clinging to the rescue board of a lifeguard from Botany Bay.

A third swimmer who had gone to the aid of the initial casualty was also found, suffering from exhaustion and showing signs of being near drowning.

Kayaker rescued in Thames Estuary
RNLI Margate

In a separate incident on the same day, a man on board an inflatable kayak was rescued in the Knock John channel, in the Thames Estuary, about 13 miles north west of Margate.

The man had set off from Leysdown-on-Sea, on the Isle of Sheppey, the previous day to spend the night on the Knock John Tower, a war time fort.

He was unable to board the tower and spent the night on his kayak but he encountered difficulty returning back to Leysdown, the coastguard said.

He was found in good health shortly after 08:30 BST and taken to Margate.

Inside a toilet roll factory – how the must have item of 2020 is made.
Demand for toilet roll was incredibly high at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions invested in local building projects

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Thanet Parkway
South East Local Enterprise Partnership
Thanet Parkway station is one of the projects being invested in

Projects in the south east are getting £85m to help the economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The money comes from the government’s £900m Getting Building Fund, which is aimed at financing schemes that will provide jobs and growth.

The local projects will provide 9,167 jobs, 7,234 homes and more than 50,000 sq m of commercial space.

They include:

  • Romney Marsh Employment Hub: 480 new jobs will be created across five hectares of employment land in Folkestone and Hythe
  • Britton Farm Redevelopment Learning Skills and Employment Hub in Medway
  • Thanet Parkway station: a new railway station in East Kent.
  • UTC Maritime and Sustainable Technology Hub: an education-led skills training centre in Lewes
  • The Observer Building, Hastings: the restoration of a local landmark including four floors of leisure, retail, offices, studios and community space
  • An Incubator facility for the Discovery Park in Sandwich

South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chair, Christian Brodie said: “We are delighted.

"These projects have been carefully selected to target those areas and industries particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 and those that can progress, at pace, to support economic recovery."

Pantomime cancelled at Canterbury theatre for 2020

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre

One of the largest pantomimes in the South East has been cancelled for 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Jack and the Beanstalk at the Marlowe Theatre, in Canterbury, will now be delayed until Christmas 2021.

Last week Kent's largest theatre announced 30 members of staff were at risk of redundancy due to its enforced closure since March.

The theatre said its decision was made in response to an announcement by the government that it will not be possible - until November at the earliest - to clarify whether indoor performances can take place without social distancing.

This will be the first time in the Marlowe's history it has not been able to present a pantomime at Christmas.

Day-trippers flock to coast as temperatures climb

Local authorities across the South East are reporting high numbers of visitors to coastal resorts as temperatures climb.

Car parks at Camber Sands, near Hastings, are already full, prompting Rother District Council to urge people to stay away.

Packed train

Civic officials want to avoid a repeat of scenes in May when chaos ensued when day-trippers flocked to the popular resort, causing gridlock to local roads.

Trains to resorts, including Whitstable, were packed, with standing-room-only available in some carriages.

Meanwhile in Kent, Thanet District Council said beaches and bays in the area, including Botany Bay, were "reaching capacity".

View more on twitter

Two men taken to hospital after stabbing

Two men were taken to hospital after being stabbed in Maidstone.

The pair, aged in their 30s and 40s, were injured at about 20:40 BST on Thursday in Tonbridge Road, Kent Police said.

The men were taken to hospital for treatment and later discharged.

A police spokesman said investigators were trying to establish what led up to the incident, and they appealed for information.

Coastal erosion: Landslide leaves house hanging over Kent cliff
Coastal erosion had undermined the cliff on the Isle of Sheppey, experts say.

No coronavirus deaths in South East in latest figures


NHS England has announced there were no deaths from coronavirus in hospitals in the South East in the 24-hour period up to 16:00 BST on Tuesday.

Cases are only included when the positive Covid-19 test result is received, or death certificate confirmed with Covid-19 mentioned, NHS England said.

These figures do not include deaths outside hospital, including those in care homes.

Across England's hospitals 14 deaths were linked to positive coronavirus tests, with the Midlands seeing nine deaths and the North East and Yorkshire three.

Virtual GP consultations rise amid pandemic

Ciaran Duggan

Local Democracy Reporter

Person on phone
Getty Images

Virtual health consultations run by GPs could be a long term legacy of the coronavirus crisis, a Kent health official has said.

Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group accountable officer Wilf Williams said there has been a “major uptick” in patients across the county being seen by their local doctors on the phone or via video calls.

Mr Williams said the technological revolution had been largely welcomed by patients, but members of Kent County Council’s (KCC) health and overview scrutiny committee (HOSC) disagreed during a public meeting.

Maidstone county councillor Dan Daley (Con), who said he has been unable to see his doctor in person since March, quizzed the senior health manager on the likelihood of allowing patients back into GP surgeries in the near future.

Speaking during the virtual council meeting, he said: “Physical contact between a doctor and their patient is an essential part of the service.

“When surgeries or individual medical centres are going to reopen properly is something that a lot of people will want to know.”

However, Mr Williams said that thousands of Kent health staff are less keen on seeing their patients in person unless it is deemed necessary.

Mr Williams, who has been in his post since February soon before Kent’s eight CCGs merged into one, said: “I don’t think we can give a date when everybody can go back and see their doctor as normal.

“I would hazard to say, although I understand the issues of access to technology for some people, that we do not want to go back to that.”

Mr Williams pointed out that some GP surgeries do not have the space to cater for social distancing while adding that staff safety is paramount as the virus is more likely to transmit indoors and in confined spaces than outside.

NHS chief: 'No guaranteed second coronavirus wave'

Ciaran Duggan

Local Democracy Reporter

A second coronavirus wave is not guaranteed to take place in Kent this autumn, says a senior NHS official.

Wilf Williams, the chief accountable officer of the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said he had been “broadly reassured” due to the declining case numbers but also warned the public against complacency.

Testing facility
Getty Images

His comments came shortly after members of Kent County Council’s (KCC) health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) said they were worried about a rapid rise of Covid infections from September.

Speaking during a virtual public meeting, Mr Williams said: “Any talk of a second wave being in September is an estimation rather than inevitability.”

The senior NHS manager, who was installed in post in February ahead of the integration of Kent and Medway’s health service, said the county was in a much better position for managing future coronavirus outbreaks.

More than 1,500 people have died from coronavirus in Kent and Medway, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 7 July.

Testing capacity has grown significantly and data collection has massively improved in hospitals and care homes, KCC’s HOSC committee was told.

Two regional testing sites have been set up in Ashford and Ebbsfleet, with another planned at Manston.

Kent Test to be delayed until October

Sue Nicholson

BBC News


Kent County Council has approved plans to delay the Kent Test - often referred to as the 11-plus - by about one month as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on schools and pupils.

The grammar school entrance exam will now take place on Thursday 15 October for pupils who attend a Kent school and from Saturday 17 October for all other students.

Parents in Kent will also be offered two additional preferences on their child’s secondary school application this year, an increase from four to six, to account for the later release of Kent Test results.

More than 17,000 pupils have registered for the test this year, the council said.