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Dog-gone litter

Jon Hunt

Reporter, BBC South East Today

Volunteer litter picker Gary Langley has trained his spaniel Lulu to help keep Tonbridge Park tidy.

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane closed and very slow traffic on M20 eastbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Don't miss your chance for cup glory!

#FAPeoplesCup

Is your team in danger of crashing out of the FA Cup this weekend - or not even involved any more?

Why not do it for them instead and get yourself involved in the 2019 FA People's Cup...

Last chance to sign up for the 2019 FA People's Cup!

You've not got long though - entries close at midnight on Monday, 18 February!

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Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - M20 entry slip road partially blocked westbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, from J3 for M26 to J2 for A20 London Road.

M20 Kent - One lane blocked on M20 westbound from J3 M26 to J2, A20 (Wrotham Brands Hatch Circuit), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

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.

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, after J3 for M26.

M20 Kent - Very slow traffic on M20 eastbound after J3 M26, because of an obstruction on the road.

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

Litterbugs to be hit harder in pockets

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council plans to increase the fixed penalty notices for littering from £80 to £100.

If the offender pays within 10 days this would be reduced to £65.

Litter in Tonbridge
Paul Farmer

Councillors on the street scene and environment services advisory board agreed to the plans at the meeting on 11 February.

This would be the first change in the charge since 2006, brought on by new legislation from the government which allows local authorities to raise their penalties.

Rather than buy new anti-litter signs, the council would amend the advertised maximum charge with stickers if the plans are approved by cabinet on 14 February.

New rubbish collections could have 'teething problems'

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

A new waste contractor has admitted there will be "teething problems" when their service begins.

Urbaser has been hired by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to collect wheelie bins from the road side.

The company would be taking over the street cleansing services from 1 March in Tonbridge and a month later at Tunbridge Wells, with around 99% of existing staff set to continue working for the service despite the change in employer.

Contract manager for Urbaser, Dan Dibdin, said: "We are aware it's a difficult period for the staff as it's a transition from one company to the next. We anticipate a few teething problems on the first week once we get those down, we intend to start moving forward to find ways to actually improve the contract."

Crackdown on careless bins

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Residents in Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells could be fined or sent to court for constantly leaving their wheelie bins on the road.

Wheelie bins
Urbaser

Collection will also be restricted to no further than 10 meters from where the rubbish truck passes on the road.

This is according to a council report, which was presented at Tonbridge and Malling Boroug Council's street scene and environment services advisory board on 11 February.

Wheelie bins
Urbaser

Dan Dibdin from the new contractor, Urbaser, said the staff will receive training and cameras will be installed on the vehicles to ensure regulations are met.

Urbaser has been hired by Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells councils for a new service which includes collecting food waste, textiles and batteries from outside residents' homes.

Severe accident: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe accident, from J5 for A20 to J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - M20 partially blocked and very slow traffic westbound from J5, A20 (Aylesford) to J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of an accident involving van and car.

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

Public toilets handed over as going concerns

Caitlin Webb

Local Democracy Reporter

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council plans to give the responsibility of maintaining toilets to parish councils in an attempt to save £75,000.

It wants to reduce its £155,300 annual cost for keeping facilities clean.

Hadlow toilets
BBC
Toilets in Hadlow

Toilets in Tonbridge will be retained by the borough council.

The facilities in the Angel Centre will close and the public will be redirected to toilets inside the leisure centre or at Sainsbury's.

Parish councils were updated on the review at the parish partnership panel on 7 February, with a final decision due on 14 February

Severe accident: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe accident, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - M20 lane closed on exit slip road and slow traffic eastbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of an accident.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - M20 lane closed on exit slip road and slow traffic eastbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Cases of children abusing their parents 'on the rise'
Charities say they've had increased referrals for "child-to-parent violence".

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#FAPeoplesCup

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There are 15 different categories including the new women's walking football one...

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To find out more about it and how to sign up hear here.

Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, from J3 for M26 to M25 J3.

M20 Kent - One lane closed on M20 westbound from J3 M26 to M25 J3, Swanley Interchange, because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, from J3 for M26 to J2 for A20 London Road.

M20 Kent - One lane closed on M20 westbound from J3 M26 to J2, A20 (Wrotham Brands Hatch Circuit), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, from J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne to J5 for A20.

M20 Kent - One lane closed on M20 eastbound from J4, A228 (Leybourne) to J5, A20 (Aylesford), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Severe accident: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe accident, from J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne to J5 for A20.

M20 Kent - Two lanes closed and slow traffic on M20 eastbound from J4, A228 (Leybourne) to J5, A20 (Aylesford), because of an accident.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane closed and heavy traffic on M20 eastbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a broken down vehicle. In the roadworks area.

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

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.

Severe accident: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe accident, between J3 for M26 and J2 for A20 London Road.

M20 Kent - One lane closed on M20 westbound between J3 M26 and J2, A20 (Wrotham Brands Hatch Circuit), because of an accident involving a car and a lorry. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe accident: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe accident, from J3 for M26 to J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M20 eastbound from J3 M26 to J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of an accident.

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

Severe accident: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe accident, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - M20 entry slip road closed westbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of an accident.

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

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.

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.

Severe accident: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe accident, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane blocked and heavy traffic on M20 westbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of an accident.

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

Severe disruption: M26 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M26 Kent westbound severe disruption, from J2A for A20 London Road to J5 for M25 J5.

M26 Kent - One lane blocked on M26 westbound from J2a, A20 (Wrotham) to J5 M25 J5, because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe accident: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe accident, from J5 for A20 to J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane closed on M20 westbound from J5, A20 (Aylesford) to J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of an accident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, at J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - M20 exit slip road partially blocked and very slow traffic eastbound at J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a broken down lorry. In the roadworks area.

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

'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.

Severe disruption: M20 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent eastbound severe disruption, from J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne to J5 for A20.

M20 Kent - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M20 eastbound from J4, A228 (Leybourne) to J5, A20 (Aylesford), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

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.

Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, from J6 for A229 Maidstone to J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane closed and queuing traffic on M20 westbound from J6, A229 (Maidstone) to J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a police incident.

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

Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, from J5 for A20 to J4 for A228 Castle Way Leybourne.

M20 Kent - One lane closed and queuing traffic on M20 westbound from J5, A20 (Aylesford) to J4, A228 (Leybourne), because of a police incident.

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