Tunbridge Wells brought to halt by suspicious package

The Calverley Road shopping precinct empty after police evacuated the area
Image caption The shopping precinct and nearby roads were emptied after the suspicious package was discovered

An abandoned suitcase brought Tunbridge Wells town centre to a standstill for more than five-and-a-half hours.

Scores of shops and offices, including the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre, were evacuated during the alert, which began at 09:20 GMT.

Hundreds of workers and shoppers were finally allowed to return at 15:00 after an Army bomb-disposal team carried out a controlled explosion.

Kent Police said the contents proved to be harmless.

A number of roads were sealed off, including the Calverley shopping precinct, and traffic was diverted away from the town centre.

Police said they had been alerted to a small suitcase left next to a phone box in Calverley Road.

Ch Supt Tim Smith said: "Public safety is paramount to Kent Police, and we take reports of this nature very seriously."

Image caption The cordon was lifted at 15:00 after a bomb-disposal team carried out a controlled explosion

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