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Twitter name change to discourage tourists

Visit Brighton, the official Brighton and Hove tourist board, has changed its name on Twitter to DoNotVisitBrighton #StayAtHome.

It comes after thousands of beachgoers defied the government's social distancing advice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced stringent new rules on Monday meaning people should only leave their homes for limited purposes during the coronavirus pandemic.

They include being allowed to take daily exercise but the Coastguard said beaches should only be used by those who lived close to them.

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Free DAB radios for over 70s

DAB digital radio

Vulnerable people aged over 70 are to be offered free DAB digital radios as millions are forced to stay in their homes and isolate because of the coronavirus outbreak.

BBC local radio is teaming up with manufacturers, retailers and a loneliness charity in order to ensure as many people as possible have access to news, information and companionship.

It will be giving away DAB digital radios to people nominated by local radio listeners as part of the BBC’s Make A Difference campaign, which was launched in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is running across all 39 BBC local radio stations in England and is aimed at connecting communities.

From Monday, anyone can nominate someone for a free radio by completing an online application form at

Free parking for health and care workers and volunteers

Parking sign
Getty Images

Parking charges on roads across East Sussex have been suspended for those delivering essential health and care services during the coronavirus pandemic, the county council has announced.

Health workers, social care workers and official NHS volunteers will be able to park for free in on-street bays, a council spokesman said.

Workers parking for free will need to display a copy of their ID on their dashboard while those volunteering for the NHS are being asked show evidence they are official volunteers.

Karl Taylor, assistant director of operations at East Sussex County Council, said: “We appreciate the vital work NHS staff, social care workers and NHS volunteers are doing at this time, and want to make it as easy as possible for them to care and support our residents.”

New chief constable will need to "hit the ground running"

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne
Katy Bourne

The new chief constable of Sussex Police will have to "hit the ground running" to deal with social tensions brought about by coronavirus.

This was the message from Katy Bourne, Sussex police and crime commissioner, who has put out a national call for a successor to Giles York, who steps down in the summer.

Mrs Bourne said: “The new chief constable will be arriving just after the anticipated peak of the coronavirus infection which may undoubtedly bring social tensions and a rise in some crime types.

“So she or he will have to hit the ground running and get a grip straight away.”

Mr York has led the force for six years, during a time of change and stretched resources.

Mrs Bourne said: “Now we find ourselves in a global fight against Covid-19, police forces like Sussex are part of the front-line so I am looking for a chief constable who can continue to lead Sussex Police through unprecedented times.”

As well as being able to earn the confidence of the public and galvanise staff and officers during the pandemic, the new chief constable will be expected to make the county "a hostile environment for criminals", she added.

NHS nurse stranded in Cambodia returns to UK

NHS nurse Cheryl Baxter
PA Media
NHS nurse Cheryl Baxter

An NHS nurse who had been stranded in Cambodia and called on Boris Johnson to help get her home has landed back in the UK.

Cheryl Baxter said she “had a few tears” when she arrived back at her front door in St Mary’s Bay in Kent on Thursday morning after her ordeal in South East Asia.

Mrs Baxter works in Hastings where she is head of the Conquest Hospital’s Covid-19 ward, and is looking forward to rejoining her colleagues soon.

Speaking after she and her husband Ivon arrived home, she said the whole experience was a “mental roller coaster”.

Mrs Baxter, 52, and her husband had been travelling before the UK pandemic commenced and were due to fly home on March 22 via Bangkok.

But as the coronavirus crisis intensified, they had huge trouble securing the right medical certificates to fly home, with different agencies demanding different papers.

She said: “My worst fear was that Bangkok would shut down, then we would be stuck for how long.

“My other fear was either of us would become unwell out there.”

NHS nurse Cheryl Baxter
PA Media
Mrs Baxter with her boarding passes

More changes to rail timetables

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Further changes to the region's rail services will come into effect from Monday, including the suspension of the Gatwick Express until further notice.

Operator Govia Thameslink says there's been a significant fall in passenger numbers, with the airport now served only by regular Southern and Thameslink services.

Gatwick Express train at airport
The Gatwick Express service is suspended until further notice

The company says this will release staff to help keep other essential rail services running.

Passengers are being asked to travel only if their journey is essential, and to check the new timetables before they leave.

Coronavirus: Popular science centre closes

The Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux
The Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux

The Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux near Eastbourne has announced it has closed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The interactive domed science centre said in a message on its website that it did not know when it will reopen.

It said: “This decision was made in the light of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and recent UK government advice, which our charity has been carefully monitoring and following.

“The safety and well-being of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our absolute priority during this difficult time.”

People who have booked group visits and upcoming events will be contacted when the centre returns to work.

Fruit and veg growers call for workers to 'feed the nation'

Fruit picking
PA Media

UK growers have launched a recruitment drive, calling for a modern-day "land army" to prevent millions of tonnes of fruit and veg going to waste.

Farmers need 70,000 workers to cover the jobs usually carried out by seasonal migrants, according to the British Growers' Association.

The key workers will still adhere to social distancing rules in the fields.

The National Farmer's Union (NFU) said temporary workers would "contribute to the health of the nation".

Travel and movement restrictions caused by the pandemic have left a "serious labour shortage" as the picking season starts.

Adverts appearing in newspapers and across social media will use the slogan "Feed Our Nation" from Tuesday.

Cambridgeshire-based grower, G's, which produces celery and lettuce for major retailers, is offering £400 a week to temporary workers.

The firm said it had "more than 2,500 vacancies across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Sussex and the West Midlands".

Find out the latest rail travel advice

Many rail operators are running pared back services to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, including Southeastern - which operates in London, East Sussex and Kent.

To find out more, click on the link below...

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Beach car parks to close due to coronavirus

The beach at Camber Sands
Camber Sands

Car parks that serve the popular Camber Sands beach in East Sussex will be closed until further notice to discourage large numbers of people travelling to the area.

In an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus, visitors will no longer be able to use any of the beach’s car parks including Camber Western, Camber Central and Old Lydd Road from the end of today.

The decision was taken after a “worryingly large number of people” headed to the beach over the weekend, despite the government’s advice on social distancing, a council spokesman said.

A spokesman for Rother District Council said: “We appreciate people need to get exercise and fresh air at this time, but the number of people visiting the beach from outside the area at the weekend posed a serious risk to public health.

“In light of the Government’s advice, we feel we have no other option but to temporarily close Camber’s car parks to discourage people from further afield travelling to the beach, and ensure the safety of residents and our staff.

“Our parks will remain open for the time being although, as with all of our services, this will be kept under constant review. We would urge people to take Government advice seriously, to not gather in groups and avoid contact with people who are not in your household.”

Former Eastbourne MP 'stuck' in New Zealand

Former Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd
BBC News

Former Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has tweeted that he is “stuck” in New Zealand, where he has been holidaying with his partner.

Mr Lloyd said Singapore was not accepting transit flights so they could not fly home.

He added: "Spent ages on the phone to consulate. No answer. I know there are an awful lot of Brits in the same boat. I hope UK Gov sorting repatriation."

New Zealand has become the latest country to announce a full lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

All public venues will close over the next 48 hours, as will most shops, except supermarkets and chemists.

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City council leader calls for calm and supermarket rationing

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

The leader of one of the South East's largest local authorities has joined calls for people to stop panic buying.

Nancy Platts, the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, also urged people to only buy specialist foods, such as gluten free products, if they genuinely need them.

Nancy Platts, leader, Brighton and Hove City Council
Nancy Platts urged an end to panic buying

She has already written an open letter to the city's supermarkets, asking them to ration what shoppers can buy and help elderly customers more.

Speaking at the council's policy and resources committee, she also praised community efforts in the face of the crisis, and said the finance team had written to local businesses about the help being offered by the government.

Sussex MP to go back to nursing

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has pledged to return to nursing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before becoming involved in the Conservative party, Mrs Caulfield worked at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital, before going on to the Royal Marsden in London.

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Seaside art gallery to temporarily shut due to coronavirus

Art gallery
Towner Eastbourne
Towner art gallery

A seaside art gallery has announced it is to temporarily close to the public due to coronavirus.

Officials at the Towner in Eastbourne say the gallery will be off limits to the public from 17:00 GMT on Wednesday 18 March.

It means its scheduled exhibitions, cinema and events programme, both on-site and off-site, will not go ahead as planned. Refund options for those who have booked tickets will be available “in due course”, the Towner’s director Joe Hill said.

He added: “We thank you for your support and understanding and very much look forward to welcoming you back to Towner Eastbourne in the not too distant future.”

Coronavirus: Council cancels meetings

Sue Nicholson

BBC News

Council sign
East Sussex County Council HQ

East Sussex County Council is to cancel its public committee meetings as the authority reacts to the coronavirus pandemic.

The authority confirmed it would be cancelling all its meetings from next Tuesday until further notice.

It has already cancelled several meetings previously scheduled to take place over the next two weeks.

However, a full council meeting will still go ahead on Tuesday as it will centre on the introduction of “temporary measures”, which the council says will allow “essential business to be conducted in the event of disruption or suspension of formal meetings due to Covid-19”.

In a report to be considered by the council's governance committee ahead of the meeting, officers are recommending a number of changes be made to the council’s constitution.

Coronavirus hits tourism hard

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Tourism officials in Hastings say the resort is being hit hard by coronavirus.

They say the first sector to feel the impact was the town's language schools, with many countries now banning students from travelling abroad.

Following the government's advice this week, several of the town's attractions have also closed or cancelled events.

White Rock Theatre, Hastings
The White Rock Theatre has cancelled all shows until further notice

Tourism supports over 15,000 jobs across 1066 Country, and contributes over £660m to the local economy. I know that a number of tourism businesses are already having to lay off staff, or not recruit their seasonal workers as they would normally be doing this time of the year."

Kevin BoormanManager, 1066 Country Marketing

Customers who have bought tickets for events are being asked to be sympathetic to venues, and accept postponements rather than ask for refunds.

Today's South East news website headlines

A pile of newspapers
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The Argus: Coronavirus - Tenth case confirmed in city

Kent Online: Inside Kent's abandoned floating hotel

Get Surrey: How to protect yourself from coronavirus during your rail commute

Chichester Observer: Festival cancelled amid coronavirus fears

Eastbourne Herald: Eastbourne post office to provide home delivery service

Crawley and Horley Observer: Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner elections cancelled

Worthing Herald: Doctors' surgery outside Worthing 'closes doors'

Mid Sussex Times: First case confirmed in East Sussex

Brighton & Hove News: Travel restrictions prompt cricketers to return

Hastings Observer: Hastings and Rother seniors meeting cancelled due to outbreak

Brighton & Hove Independent: Brighton Marathon postponed due to virus outbreak

Coronavirus: First confirmed case in East Sussex

Getty Images

The first case of coronavirus in East Sussex has been confirmed, the county council has said.

The person had been tested after recently returning home from a cruise.

Alison Barnett, Centre Director for Public Health England South East, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with the latest confirmed case of Covid-19.

"Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case."

Today's South East news website headlines

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The Argus: Coronavirus: East Sussex case of Covid-19 confirmed

Kent Online: Coronavirus Kent: Live updates on the impact of Covid-19 across the county

Get Surrey: Dog at Hurst Farm 'choosing to waste away' rather than eat due to dental pain, court hears

Chichester Observer: Sussex Police accused of failing victims of suspected domestic abusers within the force

Eastbourne Herald: Climate sex strike postponed over coronavirus

Crawley and Horley Observer: Coronavirus: West Sussex care homes ask families to limit visits to loved ones

Worthing Herald: Police issue statement following Lancing sheep killing

Mid Sussex Times: £16,000 truck stolen from farm near Steyning

Brighton & Hove News: Has Brighton bike share scheme saddled coucil with hefty bill?

Hastings Observer: Coronavirus: Hastings elections could be postponed

Brighton & Hove Independent: Transgender woman from Portslade nominated for LGBT award for fourth time

Today's South East news website headlines

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The Argus: Coronavirus: Norwegian airline to lay off staff

Kent Online: Tragedy as 'inspirational' head dies aged 45

Get Surrey: Gatwick and Heathrow introduce 'enhanced' cleaning as coronavirus cancels flights

Chichester Observer: Chichester man sentenced for sexually assaulting and biting woman

Eastbourne Herald: Men jailed over armed robbery in Eastbourne Beacon

Crawley and Horley Observer: Anti-drone equipment bolstered at Gatwick Airport

Worthing Herald: GPS tractor equipment worth £130,000 stolen from farms

Mid Sussex Times: Burgess Hill support group’s ‘Giving Tree’ raises thousands for hospice

Brighton & Hove News: Flasher jailed after shouting at judge from the dock

Hastings Observer: ‘Sex strike’ calling for East Sussex County Council action on climate change

Brighton & Hove Independent: Man arrested on suspicion of rape after woman found unconscious in Portslade

Today's South East news website headlines

A pile of newspapers
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The Argus: Sussex coronavirus: Haslemere headteacher’s letter to parents

Kent Online: Woman found dead in Canterbury hours after dad's call to police

Get Surrey: Animals could not stand and others put down at 'distressing' Hurst Farm, court hears

Chichester Observer: Large snake rescued from Bognor Regis flat fire

Eastbourne Herald: Helping hand for passengers with disabilities

Crawley and Horley Observer: A-road near Horsham blocked due to multiple-vehicle collision

Worthing Herald: West Sussex fire engine stars in BBC Top Gear episode

Mid Sussex Times: Mid Sussex festivities to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day

Brighton & Hove News: Student criticises teacher strike teachers in council debate

Hastings Observer: Hastings featured as a must-visit place in Sunday Times but some people are not happy

Brighton & Hove Independent: ‘Major incident’ exercise planned at Amex stadium in Brighton

Extra funding approved for Madeira Terraces restoration

Sue Nicholson

BBC News

Madeira Terraces

Councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council have backed £13.4m of funding for Madeira Terraces by borrowing to invest.

Applause rang out in the council chamber after it was approved on Thursday night.

It was the idea of the Conservatives, but won cross-party agreement.

The crumbling Victorian seafront terraces have long been an issue in the city with the entire Grade II-listed cast iron structure being closed to the public over fears of collapse.

The extra funding will be used to restore the terraces back to their former glory.