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  1. Updates for Thursday, 12 May 2016
  2. Police say a missing red rug from mother of three Natalie Hemming's home is 'very suspicious'
  3. Bedford Borough Council say there will be tougher checks on relatives following a review into the murder of a four-year-old girl by her father
  4. Residents in Luton have raised concerns over revised plans for the multi-million pound transformation of the former Vauxhall Motors site
  5. More news, sport, travel and weather updates from 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Dani Bailey

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

That's all from the live team for today, but we'll be back with you again tomorrow from 08:00 with the latest news, sport, weather and travel for Beds, Herts and Bucks.

If you missed anything, why not take a scroll through the page...

Bedfordshire special constable shortlisted for award

A special constable with Bedfordshire Police has been shortlisted for Volunteer of the Year.

Tristan Webb
Bedfordshire Police

Tristan Webb, 19, who became a police cadet in 2013 before becoming a special two years later, has been nominated at Central Bedfordshire Council's 2016 Cheering Volunteering Awards.

Cadet administrator Sarah Caves says the force are "thrilled" Tristan has been shortlisted, and that he is "committed to helping young people within the programme develop their skills."

Playing fields searched after men seen fighting with 'machete'

Carol Abercrombie

BBC Three Counties Radio

Police are searching playing fields in South Oxhey in Hertfordshire after reports two men were fighting with a machete type weapon.

A group of school children who were with their teachers in the field at the time were taken back to school and kept inside the building. It happened shortly after 11:15. 

The police say no one was arrested and the officers are speaking to parents at the end of school to reassure them.

Chance to say goodbye to historic Dunstable school

Dunstable Gazette

Ex-pupils with fond memories of a historic school in Dunstable will have a final chance to say goodbye before it shuts its doors for the last time.

Imam and skinhead talk community cohesion with minister

Toby Friedner

BBC Three Counties Radio

Security Minister John Hayes was in Luton today to see the work being done in the town as part of the government’s Prevent strategy.

He saw a presentation given by Imam Irfan Chrishti and former skinhead Dave Allport about respecting our differences and embracing our similarities, before speaking to students about community cohesion in Luton.

Security minister with Imam Irfan Chrishti and former skinhead Dave Allport

Weather: Dry, but turning cloudy tonight

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

Tonight: Mainly dry, but turning rather cloudy with the possibility of some fog patches. Lows of 9C (48F).

Weather graphic shows sunny spells Friday

Tomorrow: Mist thinning and breaking to bring bright or sunny spells. Highs of 17C (67F).

Charter Renewal: Hertfordshire MP talks of BBC overhaul

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

A Hertfordshire MP has spoken out about the BBC's overhaul, which has been unveiled by the government.

BBC programmes

Hitchin and Harpenden MP, Peter Lilley, said his father spent his whole life working at the BBC so he has an affection for the corporation, but went on to criticise it for what he described as its "impartiality" and lack of diversity.

"[The BBC] failed to give proper representation to public concerns about Europe, immigration and environmental policies," he said.

Latest headlines: Missing mum appeal... Men seen fighting with 'machete'

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

The top stories this afternoon:

  • Detectives have made a fresh appeal in the search for missing mother-of-three Natalie Hemming
  • Police are searching playing fields in South Oxhey in Hertfordshire after reports two men were fighting with a machete type weapon
  • During a visit to Luton today, the Government's security minister denied its anti-radicalisation strategies only target Islamic extremism

Prevent strategy: Security minister visits Luton

During a visit to Luton today, the government's security minister denied its anti-radicalisation strategies only targets Islamic extremism.

John Hayes MP

John Hayes MP was talking students who took part in the Prevent strategy, aimed at promoting cultural harmony.

He said cases of far-right extremism had been reported in the town: "There are other types of radicalisation. Extremism that leads to the threat of violence, to the threat of terrorism can come from many sources."

Travel: Slow traffic on M1 north from M25

BBC Travel

There's very slow traffic on the M1 northbound from J6a for the M25 to J9 for the A5 after a collision involving two cars and two vans.

All lanes have now reopened.

Watford good Samaritan sought

A man who helped another man he found lying in the street in Watford is being urged to come forward by police.

Chester Road, Watford

A man in his 40s was walking along Chester Road at about 02:00 on 30 April when, the next thing he knew, he was being helped off the floor by a man.

Police say the man's mobile phone and £60 cash was missing. He had sustained a lump on the back of his head and a black eye. Officers are "keen to trace the person who came to the man's assistance".

#InternationalNursesDay celebrated by local hospices

Today, people across Beds, Herts, Bucks and the globe are celebrating International Nurses Day.

It's a day about celebrating the work that nurses do, and falls on Florence Nightingale's birthday.

Some of our local hospices have been tweeting their messages of appreciation.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Police arrest 22 over Vauxhall parts thefts

Police in Bedfordshire have arrested 22 people as they continue to investigate thieves and dealers of stolen Vauxhall parts.

Stripped Corsa
Bedfordshire Police

The manufacturer and police have been working together following a number of incidents in the county saw residents cars stripped of parts by thieves, particularly the Corsa model.

Officers have arrested 22 people in Operation King since December. Det Ch Insp Ian Middleton says the force "is making significant progress".

'White-belted' cows moo-ve to Hemel Hempstead

A rare breed of "white-belted" cows will be released in fields in Hemel Hempstead this weekend.

Belted Galloway cows
Alastair Cowe

The Scottish Belted Galloway cows will graze the land at Bunkers Park for the next "couple of seasons", Dacorum Borough Council says.

A council event on Saturday will see about 10 cows take residence at their new home.

Travel: Queuing traffic on A1 northbound

BBC Travel

One lane is closed on the A1 northbound just before J8 for the A602 due to a collision. Traffic is queuing to J6.

Check the latest here.

Napier Park development would be 'mixed use'

Matthew Lockwood

BBC Three Counties Radio

Developers proposing plans for the redevelopment of an old Vauxhall Motors site in Luton say they include "residential, retail, and leisure" facilities as well as a "medical wellbeing centre".

Napier Park in Luton

Residents have raised concerns over the height of building at Napier Park, which they say could impact on their privacy.

J2 Global say that eight residential blocks will be built at various heights, "with one building at 21 storeys being the maximum". The company have written to residents inviting "comments and feedback".

MK Dons: Robinson 'desperate' for Maynard to stay

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson says he was "desperate" for strike Nicky Maynard to stay at the club.

Nicky Maynard
Getty Images

The Dons confirmed the departure of four players following relegation from the Championship, including striker Maynard who turned down an option to stay. 

Manager Robinson says losing Maynard is "a big disappointment" and that he "only looked yesterday" at his "goal ratio [which] was one in three starts... that's Championship level".

Driverless technology showcase for transport secretary

The Secretary of State for Transport has seen driverless vehicles and pods in action in Milton Keynes this morning.

Secretary of State for Transport with LUTZ Pathfinder in Milton Keynes
Transport Systems Catapult

The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP visited the Buckinghamshire town to see some of the latest transport innovations being developed, including the LUTZ Pathfinder.

"This technology is closer than people think – and in these development labs they are making it a reality," he said.

Residents 'can't expect' Napier Park to be 'empty forever'

Matthew Lockwood

BBC Three Counties Radio

The deputy leader of Luton Borough Council has said residents "can't expect" Napier Park "to stay empty forever" after concerns have been raised over plans for its redevelopment. 

Aerial view of Napier Park in Luton

Developers are proposing a multi-million pound transformation of Napier Park, the former Vauxhall Motors site, which will include the construction of eight mostly residential blocks up to 21 storeys high. 

Labour councillor Sian Timoney says there will be a full consultation now the planning application has been submitted, but that residents "can't expect it to stay empty forever... it's only stayed empty because of the recession". 

Weather: Fine, dry and pleasantly warm

BBC Weather

It will be a fine and dry afternoon, with good spells of sunshine. It will feel pleasantly warm in a northeasterly breeze. 

Maximum temperature: 22C (72F)

Weather graphic shows sunny spells this afternoon

Natalie Hemming disappearance: Red rug 'very significant'

Kate Bradbrook

BBC Look East

Thames Valley Police have said they are looking for a red rug in connection with the disappearance of mother-of-three Natalie Hemming.

Red rug in Natalie Hemming case
Thames Valley Police

The rug, which is missing from Ms Hemming's house in Newton Leys, is described as 12ft x 10 ft (3.6m x 3m) with a 3in (7.6cm) soft pile.

Det Supt Chris Ward asked for anybody who had seen a similar rug discarded anywhere, particularly in the Aylesbury, Oxford and Milton Keynes area or over the border in Bedfordshire, to contact the police.

"I believe it’s very significant in relation to her disappearance," he said.

Stevenage MP welcomes new budget rail service

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has said he welcomes the news that First Group is to operate a new budget rail service between Edinburgh and London because it will directly benefit the town.

Five trains a day will run each way via intermediate stations at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth from 2021.  

Mr McPartland said they were "incredibly exciting plans" which "demonstrate how important Stevenage is to the economic recovery". 

View more on twitter

Thames Valley Police horses get day off

Dani Bailey

BBC Local Live

Thames Valley Police horses based in Milton Keynes have the day off today.

Their officers are taking part in some training, which looks like hot work on a day like today.

View more on twitter

Council promises tough checks on relatives after child murder

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Bedford Borough Council say there will be tougher checks on relatives following a review into the murder of a four-year-old girl by her father.

Carl Wheatley and Alexa-Marie Quinn
South Beds News Agency

Carl Wheatley, who had a history of domestic violence, murdered Alexa-Marie Quinn at their home in Hatfield, three months after she was placed in his care after being with foster parents. A serious case review found failings by social services in both Bedford and Hertfordshire.  

Bedford's director of children's services Kevin Crompton said: "We must make sure there's no presumption just because they're related that they are going to be a fit parent which seems to have happened in this case from very early on... 

"That's why we have strengthened the process by which friends and family members are assessed."

Lunchtime headlines: Red rug search in missing mum case... M40 fatal crash

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

The latest stories this lunchtime:

  • Detectives investigating the diappearance of mother of three Natalie Hemming are looking for a red rug missing from her home
  • A man has died in hospital after a crash on the M40 in Buckinghamshire on Monday evening
Charlie Lee

Stevenage midfielder Charlie Lee signs a new, undisclosed-length contract with the League Two side.

Read more

Missing Natalie Hemming: Police search for red rug

Kate Bradbrook

BBC Look East

I'm at Aylesbury police station where Thames Valley Police are making a new appeal for information about missing Natalie Hemming.

The 31-year-old mother-of-three, from Newton Leys, near Milton Keynes, has not been seen since 1 May.

Her partner Paul Hemming, 42, appeared at Luton Crown Court on Monday charged with her murder.  

Police want to locate a red rug which is missing from the family home in Alderney Avenue.

View more on twitter

Watford pond turns green again

Matthew Lockwood

BBC Three Counties Radio

I'm going to start banging on about the state of Watford’s pond again... I'm upset that the water has turned green despite a new water filtration system being installed to remedy the pond’s previous algae problem.

Watford pond

Watford Borough Council has said the pond is “being cleaned up and algae is a natural occurring phenomenon and not easy to manage”.

In a separate development the council has confirmed Watford’s Heron will be returning, albeit in sculpture form.

Matthew Upson

MK Dons have released four players including Matthew Upson and Antony Kay following relegation from the Championship.

Read more

Man dies after M40 crash

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

A man has died in hospital after a crash on the M40 near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire on Monday evening. 

M40 in Buckinghamshire

The 24-year-old from Birmingham was driving a red Nissan Micra which ended up on its roof, on the southbound carriageway between junctions three and two.   

Travel: Accident on M1

BBC Travel

The London-bound M1 is partially blocked before J8 for Hemel Hempstead due to an accident.

Congestion is back to J9 for the A5 at Redbourn.

Get the latest updates from BBC Travel.

Residents concerns over Vauxhall flat plans

Matthew Lockwood

BBC Three Counties Radio

Revised plans for the multi-million pound transformation of the former Vauxhall Motors site in Luton has led to complaints from nearby residents.

Napier Park

Developers are proposing to erect eight mostly residential blocks up to 21 storeys high at Napier Park

Resident Stan says the buildings will impact on their privacy: "If it's going to be [over 20] storeys, half the top ones will be able to see in our gardens, in our houses."

UK cloud over Bletchley

BBC Weather Watchers

How much does this cloud over Bletchley look like the United Kingdom?!

BBC Weather Watcher Kevin sent us this photograph and we're all very impressed...

Cloud over Bletchley

Latest headlines: Fresh appeal in missing mum search... Concerns over Luton plans

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

The top stories this morning:

Woman hit by minibus outside school

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Police are appealing for witnesses after a 19-year-old woman was seriously injured in a collision outside an Aylesbury school yesterday.

Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School, Aylesbury

The pedestrian was hit by a minibus on the A418 Oxford Road outside Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School just after 15:00 and was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. 

Four players leave MK Dons

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Milton Keynes Dons have confirmed the departure of four players. 

Antony Kay, Jordan Spence and Matthew Upson will not be offered new contracts, while Nicky Maynard has turned down an option to stay. 

Karl Robinson
Getty Images

Manager Karl Robinson is due to meet with out-of-contract trio Carl Baker, Cody Cropper and Alex Revell to discuss their futures. 

Loan players Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Jake Forster-Caskey, Rob Hall, Kevin Long and Josh Murphy have all returned to their respective clubs.

New Edinburgh to London budget rail service to stop at Stevenage


new budget rail service between Edinburgh and London, which will call at Stevenage, has been given the green light by the Rail Regulator.

Stevenage rail station

First Group will run five services a day from no later than 2021 with stops also at Newcastle and Morpeth.

It claimed average fares would be less than £25 and there will be only one class of carriage as First Group looks to compete with budget airlines.

Stagecoach, which operates Virgin Trains East Coast on the same rails, has warned its revenue will be harmed.

Natalie Hemming disappearance: Murder police due to make fresh appeal

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Police looking for a missing mother-of-three whose partner is accused of her murder are due to make a fresh appeal for information this morning.

Search in Salden Wood

Natalie Hemming, 31, of Alderney Avenue, Newton Leys, near Milton Keynes, has not been seen since 1 May. Her partner Paul Hemming, 42, appeared at Luton Crown Court on Monday charged with her murder.

Yesterday, officers scoured an area around Salden Wood near Newton Longville in Buckinghamshire and a disused railway line, both near the family home.

Travel: Disruption on M25

BBC Travel

One lane is closed on the anti-clockwise M25 between J25 for the A10 and J24 for the A111 at Potters Bar due to a broken down lorry.

Get the latest updates from BBC Travel.

Defeat for Watford as relegation places are confirmed

BBC Sport

Watford lost 4-2 at Norwich last night, but the win wasn't enough to save the Canaries who have been relegated.

Craig Cathcart
Getty Images

Troy Deeney had given Watford the lead, but Norwich responded through Nathan Redmond, Dieumerci Mbokani and a Craig Cathcart (pictured) own goal. Odion Ighalo pulled a goal back, but Mbokani dinked in Norwich's fourth.

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, who recognised the Hornets had had a good season, said: "If we didn't work really hard in the season then we may have been in Norwich's position. The level between Norwich and Watford is not too much."