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  1. Updates on Wednesday, 18 May 2016
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather updates from 08:00 on Thursday

Live Reporting

By Alex Pope

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

That's it from the team here at Local Live for Beds, Herts and Bucks.

Here are some of the main stories we've been looking at today:

  • A post-mortem into a severed head believed to have come from a construction site in Sharnbrook has found the person probably died before 1 January 2015
  • A milestone was marked in Bedford with the topping-out ceremony on the multi-million pound Riverside North Development
  • Tomorrow Bedford school boy Alistair Cook could become the youngest player to score 10,000 Test runs

Weather: Patchy rain expected tonight

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

A few heavy showers will continue to drift slowly southeastwards this evening, before dying out around midnight.

Minimum temperature: 9C (48F).

Weather Map

Tomorrow, early mist patches and low cloud will soon lift and break up to leave a mostly dry, bright day with some hazy sunshine.

Maximum temperature: 18C (64F).  

Alastair Cook on verge of 10,000 Test runs

BBC Sport

Bedford schoolboy-made-good, England captain Alastair Cook is set to become the youngest player to score 10,000 Test runs when his side play Sri Lanka in the first Test at Headingley.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and England skipper Alastair Cook
Getty Images

Cook - aged 31 years, four months and 24 days on Thursday - needs 36 runs to break Indian star Sachin Tendulkar's record.

He will be the 12th player to reach the milestone, and the first Englishman.

Red Bull expect consistent challenge after Renault engine test

Andrew Benson

Chief F1 writer

Milton Keynes-based Red Bull expect to become more consistent challengers at the front of Formula 1 following a successful first test of a new Renault engine.

Red Bull team
Getty Images

Renault trackside operations director Alan Permane said the engine performed as expected in testing in Spain this week, adding: "It looks good."

Renault sources have predicted a performance improvement of 0.4-0.5 seconds a lap from the development.

Milton Keynes man due to be sentenced for sex assault

A teenager from Milton Keynes is due to be sentenced after pleading guilty to one count of assaulting a girl under the age of 13.

Jack Barnes, 18, pleaded guilty to the charge just before a retrial at Aylesbury Crown Court yesterday.

He's due for sentencing on 23 June.

Police investigating discovery of severed head extend search to aqueduct at Sharnbrook

As part of their investigation into the discovery of a severed head at a quarry in Mepal, Cambridgeshire, police say they have been carrying out a search at aqueduct in Mill Road, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire.

This is next to a construction site which has been a focus of their investigations.

Human head victim 'died before 2015'

Natalie Hemming, Helen Bailey, Ramute Butkiene
Thames Valley Police, Cambs Police
Police are not linking the discovery with (l-r) Natalie Hemming, Mary Bailey and Ramute Butkiene

Tests on a severed human head found at a quarry in Cambridgeshire fail to identify the gender but reveal the victim "probably died before 2015".


Human head victim 'died before 2015'

Tests on a severed human head found at a quarry in Cambridgeshire fail to identify the gender but reveal the victim "probably died before 2015".

Read more

No Tesco staff injured in robbery

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Tesco have confirmed the Tesco Express store in Burnham High street has re-opened after a robbery last night.

They told me "no customers or colleagues were injured in the incident, and we are continuing to assist the police with their investigations."

Tesco Express in Burnham
Des Blenkinsopp/Geograph

Bedford Mayor reaches new heights

Sophie Sulehria

BBC Three Counties Radio

The Mayor of Bedford, David Hodgson, has laid the last bit of cement on top of the new Riverside development in the centre of the town.

The Topping Out ceremony was held to mark the £36m build reaching its structural height.

The development will house a cinema, hotel, restaurants and flats and should be completed by 2017.

Severed head post-mortem results published

Specialists have been unable to determine if a head thought to have come from a construction site in Sharnbrook is from a man or a woman.

Police have confirmed a post-mortem examination has been carried out, but it's come back inconclusive. 

They believe the person died before 1 January, 2015. 

Detectives from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit are working to establish the gender and the identity of the deceased.

BreakingPost mortem results prove inconclusive

A post mortem examination on a human head found in a quarry has come back as inconclusive

Four hundred million pound MoD contract coming to Stevenage

Kate Bradbrook

BBC Look East

A £400m development contract has this afternoon been awarded to MBDA missile systems in Stevenage to work on the new SPEAR weapon.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Phillip Dunne, came to the site to announce the news.

MBDA headquarters

He says it will employ 350 people, 200 of them being right here in Stevenage.

The new missile is to equip the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm Joint Strike Fighters F-35s.

Herts and Beds men charged with scamming a pensioner

Alex Rhodes

BBC Lincolnshire Live

Two men from Hertfordshire and two from Bedfordshire have been charged in connection with a scam in which a pensioner was conned out of £72,000.

The men, aged between 37 and 59, are Eddy Ellis from Watford, Neil Percival from Hemel Hempstead, and Nazmul Chowdury and Mohammed Hoque, both from Luton.

They've been released on police bail and are due to appear before Skegness Magistrates on 21 June.

New Bedford development will be a 'magnet of attraction' say developers

Sophie Sulehria

BBC Three Counties Radio

By next year a whole new development will be open for business in Bedford. 

Work is currently underway to build the £36m Riverside North development on the site of the old Bedford Town Hall and today I went along to the Topping Out ceremony.

Riverside North development artists impression
Bedford Borough Council

Big names like Wagamama and Zizzi will move in, as well as a Premier Inn hotel, a cinema and a public square. 

Developers Bouygues say it will be a "a magnet of attraction for people to come and stay and enjoy Bedford."

Three men with a sledge hammer and crowbar rob Tesco Express

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Tesco Express in Burnham High Street has been robbed

At 22:45 last night three people wearing ski masks and carrying a sledge hammer and crowbar stole cash and a large amount of cigarettes.

Tesco Express in Burnham

Staff were verbally threatened, but not injured. Police believe the men escaped in what looked like a dark coloured Subaru Impreza estate.

Travel: Great Barford bypass re-opened

The Great Barford bypass has re-opened after an earlier accident but there are still long delays between the A421 Bedford Southern Bypass junction and the Black Cat roundabout. 

View more on twitter

On this day… Cock fighting and PETA

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic - a year ago today we reported how animal rights campaign group PETA had sent a letter to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans asking the pub to change its name because it “brings to mind the violence of cock fighting”.

The Fighting Cocks

It suggested Ye Olde Clever Cocks instead.

Landlord Christo Tofalli said they were "happy to discuss" it, but reminded everyone it was an historic pub and when children are taught about it they are told cock fighting was wrong and that's why it's now banned.

To date, the historic name remains.

Weather: Showery rain, some heavy this afternoon

BBC Weather

It will be a rather cloudy start to the afternoon with outbreaks of rain gradually clearing eastwards.

Goffs Oak
Dave/Weather Watcher

Some brighter spells may well then develop, but there will also be slow-moving heavy showers with the risk of thunder.

Maximum Temperature: 14C (57F).

CCTV images released after bikes worth thousands taken from St Albans railway station

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Images of three men British Transport Police want to speak to following the theft of bikes worth thousands of pounds have been released.

CCTV images

Five bikes were taken from St Albans City station on 6 May, just after midday. 

PC Jonathan Jackson said the men used tools to steal the bikes.

Travel: Severe delays on Great Barford bypass

The A421 Great Barford Bypass in Great Barford is blocked and there's queuing traffic southbound between the Black Cat Roundabout and the A421 Bedford Southern Bypass junction, because of an accident involving two vehicles.

View more on twitter

Osbourne pair 'behave' at Bletchley Park

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Bletchley Park has confirmed rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his son Jack "behaved impeccably" when they visited the home of the World War Two codebreakers to film for their new reality TV series, Ozzy And Jack's World Detour.

But while the celebrity pair remained calm, it seems the same couldn't be said for staff.

The museum's digitisation and exhibitions officer Sarah Kay was just a little bit excited to welcome the pair.

Sarah Kay, Ozzy and Jack Osbourne
Sarah Kay
View more on twitter

Woman dragged into alleyway and robbed in Leighton Buzzard

A woman was robbed after being dragged into an alleyway in Leighton Buzzard on Monday night.

Bridge Street

She was walking along Bridge Street at 23:20 towards the town centre, when she was assaulted by a man who stole her handbag. 

He's described as white and wearing a balaclava.

Quarry human head 'not linked to missing women'

Laura Devlin

BBC News

A severed human head that's thought to come from a Bedfordshire construction site is not being linked to the cases of two missing women and a murder victim, Cambridgeshire say.

Natalie Hemming, Mary Bailey and Ramute Butkiene
Thames Valley Police/Cambridgeshire Police

Construction workers at Mepal, Cambridgeshire, found the remains on Monday.

Cambridgeshire Police say they were not currently connecting the discovery to missing Milton Keynes women Natalie Hemming and Royston children's author Helen Bailey.

The force also said the find had not been linked to the murder of Ramute Butkiene.

Wasp sting death: The 'excruciating pain' of the death of a loved one because of a simple sting

BBC Wales News

The daughter of a woman who died after being stung by a wasp while on holiday said she prayed no other family would be put through the "excruciating pain" of the death of a loved one because of a simple sting.

Allison Kendrick, 46, was talking after an inquest in Wales found her mother, 69-year-old Angela Jacqueline Kendrick, said her mother should have been given more information.

"Through her ignorance she placed her life in danger, which I am sure she would not have done had she been appraised of the risks of this condition," she said.

Wasp sting death: Herts woman tried to treat herself with onion

BBC Wales News

An inquest an Gwent Coroner's Court heard Angela Jacqueline Kendrick, 69, who died after being stung by a wasp, tried to use an onion to treat the sting before a family member injected adrenaline from an EpiPen.

The Hatfield mother-of-two was taken to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, because paramedics had run out of adrenaline medication, where she was later pronounced dead.

Her daughter Allison Kendrick, 46, told the inquest the old wives' tale treatment of an onion showed her mother's "lack of education" about her condition after being diagnosed in 2003.

Hertfordshire mother-of-two Angela Kendrick 'died after wasp sting'

BBC Wales News

A woman from Hatfield died after a rare illness made her sensitive to wasp stings, an inquest has heard.

Mother-of-two Angela Jacqueline Kendrick, 69, collapsed after being stung on holiday in the Brecon Beacons, Powys, in September last year.

Angela Kendrick
Wales News Service

Gwent Coroner's Court heard she had mast cell disorder, but her family said she was not made "fully aware" of the risk and should have had more information.

Coroner Wendy James recorded a narrative conclusion and said anaphylactic shock and the wasp sting caused her death.

Copper and lead stripped from Hertfordshire college

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused at an unused college in Hertfordshire.

North Herts College Centre for Arts
Robin Hall/Geograph

Thieves have stripped copper and lead from the North Herts College Centre for Arts on Willian Road in Hitchin. 

Police believe the theft could have taken several days between 28 April and 12 May.

Man released from car after accident in Buckinghamshire

Police, fire and the air ambulance have been at the scene of an accident on Winslow Road, Swanbourne in North Buckinghamshire this morning. 

Firefighters used hydraulic rescue equipment to release an injured man from the car.

View more on twitter

Queen's Speech: Milton Keynes driverless cars scheme mentioned

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Driverless cars and the Queen - an unlikely combination? Not today at least.

Driverless car
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The future of driverless cars, drones and a commercial spaceport were mentioned in the Queen's Speech

Trails of the cars are set to take place in Milton Keynes as the Government aims to make sure the UK is "at the forefront of technology".

Buckingham MP Bercow's major role in the Queen's Speech

Here's the MP for Buckingham, John Bercow, taking a major role before the Queen's Speech earlier today.

John Bercow arriving for the Queen's speech

In the central lobby of Parliament, "Hats off, strangers" was shouted by an official to mark his arrival. 

He then made his way to the House of Commons chamber before the speech in the Lords... the pomp and circumstance of Parliament in full swing.

Elderly biker left in serious condition after collision

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

A elderly motorcyclist has been left with life-changing injuries after an accident yesterday morning,

Police say a Ford Transit van collided with a motorbike on the B579, Luton Road near Fancott at 1:55 on Tuesday.

The biker, in his 70s, was taken to hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition.

Parents campaign against 'compulsory Chromebook' rule

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

How would you react if your child's school said you had to buy a £149 laptop for them to use in lessons?

More than 100 people have signed an online petition against plans at Tring School in Hertfordshire, which has announced it'll be compulsory for most students to have a Google Chromebook from next year.

Tring School

Headteacher Sue Collins said she accepted parents concerns, but they were having to manage an £800,000 per year cut in their budget from the government.

It is absolutely enormous to manage a budget cut and at the same time raise standards."

Sue CollinsHeadteacher at Tring School

Milestone marked in Bedford

Sophie Sulehria

BBC Three Counties Radio

A milestone has just been reached in Bedford.

The Topping Out Ceremony has just been carried out to mark the next stage in the Riverside North development in the centre of the town.

Mayor Dave Hodgeson filling in a hole

The new building is part a regeneration project for Bedford which includes a cinema, shops and homes.

Bedford reaches new heights

Sophie Sulehria

BBC Three Counties Radio

This isn't a view you see every day.

I'm at the Topping Out ceremony to mark the Riverside North development in Bedford reaching it's full structural height.

View more on twitter

Police 'not linking' severed head find with missing mother case

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

I've just spoken to Thames Valley Police who have confirmed they are not linking the discovery of a severed head in a Cambridgeshire quarry with the investigation into the disappearance of mother-of-three Natalie Hemming.

Ms Hemming, 31, of Alderney Avenue, Newton Leys, near Milton Keynes, has not been seen since 1 May. Her partner has appeared in court charged with her murder.

Herts woman campaigns for better education about transgender issues

Carol Abercrombie

BBC Three Counties Radio

A Hertfordshire woman is campaigning for better education about transgender issues in primary schools after her daughter died from a drugs overdose while struggling to get sex change treatment.

Amanda De Courcey, from Stevenage, says her daughter Synestra, who was born a boy, was aware early on she was the wrong gender. 

Ms De Courcey has set up a community interest company called Synestra's CIC, which raises money for charities improving awareness of gender dysmorphia. They are trying to get a film on transgender issues shown in primary schools.

Stewartby incinerator: 'Not 100% absolutely guaranteed'

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Residents opposed to a waste incinerator in a disused clay pit in Bedfordshire are holding a meeting tonight.

Impression of Stewartby incinerator

Energy company Covanta got permission three years ago to build an energy from waste plant at Rookery pit near Stewartby, but had withdrawn from the project. It's now joined forces with Veolia to see it through.

District councillor Sue Clarke said: "They've still got to get the environmental permit and reading between the lines they've still got to finance it, so I wouldn't say it's 100% absolutely guaranteed, but we had thought it had gone away."

Watford 'talk to former Inter Milan coach'

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

They like a managerial change in Watford. Slavisa Jokanovic's reward for earning the club promotion to the Prem in 2015 was his P45. Replacement Quique Sanchez Flores got the same for keeping them up.

Walter Mazzarri
Getty Images

Now, reports in Italy, Watford's owners, the Pozzo family, say talks are taking place with former Inter Milan coach Walter Mazzarri.

The Watford Observer reports Gianpaolo Pozzo told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "We are talking to him about it".

Herts and Beds in prison satellite tagging trial

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are due to be two of eight pilot areas to trial satellite tracking tags to monitor offenders.

Prison generic

This could see prisoners become weekend inmates and spend the rest of the week at home as they hold down jobs.

The trial is part of a shake-up of the prisons system which will be at the heart of the Queen's speech this morning.