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Summary

  1. More than 30 people come forward to say they were victims of historical abuse at two schools in Colchester and Ongar
  2. Manager Kevin Keen leaves Colchester United with "immediate effect"
  3. Colleen Westlake, from Chelmsford, died from blunt force head trauma and strangulation, an inquest hears
  4. More news, sport, weather and travel updates from 08:00 on Wednesday

Live Reporting

By Jack Warren

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

That's it from us at Essex Live today - thanks for joining us.

We'll be back tomorrow morning from 08:00 with the latest news for the county.

Have a good evening. 

Oh my gourd... Essex man in charge of growing £1,250 pumpkin seed

An Essex horticulturist has been selected to be the man who turns a £1,250 seed into a record-breaking pumpkin.

Pumpkin seed
PA

Matthew Oliver, who works at RHS Hyde Hall in Chelmsford, has been asked to nurture the gourd on behalf of Horticulture firm Thompson & Morgan, in the aim of growing the biggest pumpkin in the world.

Mr Oliver said the pressure to deliver is "massive", adding: "I'm not sure whether it was a brave or stupid idea to take on this challenge, but I'll give it my best shot."

Weather: Wintry showers dying out overnight but developing again tomorrow

BBC Weather

Wintry showers will generally die out through the course of this evening. This will allow most places to become dry with clear spells with a touch of frost by the morning. 

Minimum temperature: 1C (34F).

Weather map for Essex
BBC

Tomorrow will start cold and bright with the odd isolated shower possible. Through the day further wintry showers will develop, perhaps with some hail and thunder during the afternoon.

Get the latest forecast where you live from BBC Weather.

Colchester United: Joe Edwards' red card overturned

Staying with Colchester United... and there is some good news for fans this afternoon. 

Joe Edwards' red card against Burton has been overturned, meaning he will be available for Saturday's game against Barnsley.

Joe Edwards sending off
Getty Images

Kevin Keen: Fighting the odds with youth game play

Glenn Speller

BBC Essex Sport

Kevin Keen was always fighting the odds as Colchester continue down the road of bringing through youth.

He wasn't the first choice, with the chairman favouring an internal appointment at the time. 

Given that fact, there was always an inkling of a lack of permanence about his tenure. The club from the outside appears to be in turmoil and a massive summer lies ahead.

Headlines: Keen leaves Colchester United... c2c driver who died on duty is named

Nick Alliker

BBC Essex

Here are the top stories from Essex this afternoon: 

  • Kevin Keen has left his position as Colchester United manager following their relegation from League One
  • A c2c worker who died while driving a train from Essex to London last night has been named as 56-year-old father-of-two Steve Jones from Purfleet
  • More than 30 people have come forward to say they were victims of historical abuse at two schools in Essex  

Have your say: Keen departs from Colchester

More of your comments following the news that Kevin Keen has parted company with Colchester United. 

Simon thinks Braintree Town's manager could be a good prospect, writing: "Danny Cowley surely has to be a name they want to talk to." 

Andrew said: "Such a shame. Was looking forward to see how he was going to rebuild."

Meanwhile, Tony posts on our Facebook page: "You can have [Southend United manager] Phil Brown if you want him #Shrimpers".

Keen's departure from Colchester comes as a 'huge surprise'

Ben Fryer

BBC Essex sport

More now on our top sport story this afternoon - and Keen's departure will come as a huge surprise to Colchester fans, who only three days ago were hearing him talk about how "good things" were happening at the club.

Colchester fans
Getty Images

Many supporters were looking forward to seeing how Keen would shape the squad for League Two football, and were encouraged by the way the U's had improved their performances under Keen recently, though that improvement wasn't enough to save their League One status.  

c2c worker who died while driving train named as Steve Jones

Jack Warren

BBC Local Live

A c2c worker who died while driving a train from Essex to London last night has been named as father-of-two Steve Jones. 

The 56-year-old, from Purfleet, had worked on the railways for more than 40 years and as a local train driver since 1980, according to his employer. 

Colleague Mark Daniels said: "Steve was always willing to tell many stories – some believable and maybe some tall tales. However he was a great work colleague who will be missed."

Your pictures: Blackmore hail shower

Jack Warren

BBC Local Live

We'll have more from Colchester United later, but first at look at some of our other stories.... and there's been a lot of chat about the weather today. 

You may have heard of April showers - but I'm not sure it usually involves hail or snow.

Shenfield
BBC Weather Watchers/Sunny&Share

BBC Weather Watcher "Sunny&Share" uploaded this photo a short while ago.

Did you capture a flurry in Essex earlier today? Share your pictures with us via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

Colchester United: 'Suddenly that question doesn't look so bad'

On Saturday, BBC Essex Sport Editor Glenn Speller was shot down when he questioned Keen's position at the club to Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling...

View more on twitter

A poor defensive record for Colchester United this season

Colchester United have struggled defensively this season and are close to setting a new record - but not for the right reasons. 

The U's have conceded 95 goals in this year's campaign and could become the first team to let in 100 in a season since Stockport County (102) in the old First Division in 2001-02.

Colchester United mascot
Getty Images

Get involved: Your responses to Kevin Keen's Colchester departure

Did you see Kevin Keen's departure coming or was it a bit of a shock? You've been sharing your thoughts on the news that broke a short while ago on our Facebook page.

Colchester United
Getty Images

Nev posted: "Can things get any worse?"

Lee writes: "Like we didn't see that coming."

What do you make of the whole situatuion? Email ustweet us, or visit us on Facebook

A look back at Keen's time at Colchester United

Jack Warren

BBC Local Live

It's almost five months to the day since Colchester appointed Kevin Keen as their new manager on 21 December. 

Kevin Keen
Getty Images

However it wasn't until March that the 49-year-old, who was once a caretaker boss at West Ham, achieved his first league win. 

The team won only five out of 24 games under Keen and relegation was confirmed by Saturday's 3-0 home loss to Burton.

Colchester United release statement following Kevin Keen depature

Colchester United have issued the following statement following the departure of their manager Kevin Keen:

After a meeting with the owner Robbie Cowling over the future direction of the club, Kevin Keen has decided to leave Colchester United with immediate effect. Kevin has worked tirelessly to try and turn around the fortunes of the club this season. We wish Kevin all the best in his future career. David Wright has agreed to take the team for the remaining two games of the current season

Colchester United

Colchester United manager leaves the club with 'immediate effect'

Colchester United manager Kevin Keen has left the club with "immediate effect". 

Kevin Keen
Getty Images

Keen, 49, joined the U's in December last year after replacing former boss Tony Humes. 

It comes as Colchester were relegated from League One last weekend. 

BreakingFootball: Kevin Keen leaves Colchester United

Colchester United manager Kevin Keen has left his position at the club.

More to follow...

Colchester and Ongar school abuse claims lodged by 36 ex-pupils

Laurence Cawley

BBC News

More than 30 people have come forward to say they were victims of historical abuse at two schools in Essex.

statement of one of the victims
BBC

A civil compensation case is under way relating to Oxley Parker School in Colchester and Elmbridge Boarding School near Ongar.

The alleged abuse at the two independent schools, which have since closed, is said to have have taken place between 1974 and 1998. Solicitors said police would be informed after evidence was gathered.

Knife-point taxi robbery: Description of suspect

Essex Police has released a description of a man who is said to have held a knife to the throat of a taxi driver in Southend-on-Sea last night.

The 48-year-old victim collected the man at a taxi rank close to Southend Victoria railway station and drove him to Lundy Close in the town before the suspect held a knife to his throat.

Southend Victoria
Google

The suspect is described as: 

  • White and aged about 50
  • Of slim build
  • Between 5ft 9in (1.75m) and 6ft (1.82m) tall

How will 111 services in Essex cope with the junior doctors' strike?

For the next two days junior doctors are on strike affecting services including A&E - but what affect will that have on the NHS non-emergency number 111? We asked the woman in charge of it in Essex.

Lorraine Gray - Chief Operating Officer
NHS

Lorraine Gray, the chief operating officer, told BBC Essex that in March alone they dealt with 30,000 calls in the county and are expecting an "even busier day" today.

"We have put on additional staff to meet the demand, but we would still encourage people to call 111", she said. 

Man charged in connection with pregnant woman robbery

A man has been charged in connection with a robbery which left a pregnant woman and her partner injured, police say. 

Beambridge
Google

The incident happened at a property in Beambridge, Pitsea, on 2 March. 

A 26-year-old man from London was charged with robbery and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. He is due to appear at Basildon Magistrates' Court on 26 May.

Weather: Windy and cold with wintry showers

BBC Weather

Through this afternoon we will see a mixture of sunny spells and showers. 

The showers may turn heavy and thundery at times with a wintry mix of rain, hail, sleet and perhaps occasionally a few flakes of wet snow.  Maximum temperature: 10C (50F).

Weather map for Essex
BBC

You can stay up-to-date with the latest forecast where you live from BBC Weather.

Post-morterm examination to take place on man found in Bradwell burned-out caravan

A post-mortem examination is taking place today on the body of a man who was found in a burned-out caravan in Bradwell-on-Sea.

Maldon Road scene
BBC

The 23-year-old victim, who was believed to have been visiting the area with his family, was discovered along with the body of a dog close to Maldon Road on Sunday morning.

Essex Police is treating the death as unexplained.

Junior doctor: Why I am on strike

Richard Smith

BBC Essex

I'm at Broomfield Hospital where a number of junior doctors are on the picket striking against proposed contract changes

DR SHIXIN BICKERTON
BBC

Dr Shixin Bickerton, who works in the reconstructive plastic surgery and burns unit, is one of those who has walked out today.

"I work nights, I work weekends and we work all hours of the day but there's not enough of us to go round... You cannot stretch us any further", she said. 

Prime Minister David Cameron called the industrial action "irresponsible".

c2c worker dies while driving train

A c2c worker has died from a suspected heart attack while driving a train from Essex to London last night, it has been confirmed.

c2c
BBC

The driver, who has not yet been named, was taken ill shortly before arriving at Barking station at 20:45. The London Ambulance Service said the man was pronounced dead at the scene. 

In a statement, a c2c spokesman told the BBC: "The thoughts of all the driver's colleagues and friends at c2c are with his family at this difficult time."

Headlines: c2c worker dies while driving train... Colleen Westlake died from 'blunt force head trauma and compression of the neck'

Nick Alliker

BBC Essex

Here are the top stories for Essex this lunchtime:  

  • A c2c worker died while driving a train from Essex to London last night
  • A woman found dead at her home in Chelmsford earlier this month died from a "blunt force head trauma and compression of the neck", an inquest has heard
  • A taxi driver has had a knife held to his throat by a customer in Southend

County Championship: Essex v Northamptonshire day three

BBC Sport

Day three of Essex's County Championship match against Northamptonshire is under way. 

Cricket at the County Ground
Getty Images

Essex resumed on 351-for 3 at the County Ground in Chelmsford after yesterday saw just nine overs bowled due to inclement weather. 

Follow live text updates and listen to live BBC commentary here.

Junior doctors' strike: What patients need to know

Junior doctors in England are on strike today and tomorrow from 08:00 to 17:00. The NHS says it is working hard to ensure as few patients as possible are affected, but what does this mean for people who need these services?

A&E
SPL
  • A&E: These services will continue to run throughout the strike but with other staff covering junior doctor roles
  • To access urgent medical help: You can still call NHS 111, visit your GP or see an out-of-hours doctor at an urgent care centre or walk-in centre
  • Visiting a GP: GPs may experience greater demand than normal, so it is best to contact your GP early if you need advice or an appointment, according to the NHS Choices website
  • Pharmacies and dentists: The strikes do not include any of these healthcare professionals. Services should run as normal

Why are junior doctors striking?

Victoria Derbyshire

The Victoria Derbyshire programme's Jim Reed has been taking a look at why the junior doctors' strike is taking place:

What is the junior doctors strike about?

Colleen Westlake died from 'blunt force head trauma and compression of the neck'

Chris Flynn

BBC Essex

A woman found dead at her home in Chelmsford earlier this month died from a blunt force head trauma and compression of the neck, an inquest has heard.

Murder scene
BBC

Colleen Westlake, 48, was found unresponsive by police officers in Pines Road on 17 April. 

Craig Bird, 31, of no fixed abode, has been charged with her murder and the attempted murder of her 59-year-old husband Victor Westlake. 

The inquest at Chelmsford Coroner's Court has been adjourned. 

World Snooker Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan loses to Barry Hawkins

BBC Sport

Chigwell's Ronnie O'Sullivan failed to reach the World Championship quarter-finals for just the second time in 13 years as he suffered a thrilling final-frame defeat against Barry Hawkins.  

Five-time champion O'Sullivan looked to be in desperate trouble at 12-9, but hit breaks of 124, 88 and 63 to level.

World number 11 Hawkins fluffed his first chance in the decider. But, after O'Sullivan carelessly went in off, Hawkins wrapped up the win and will play Marco Fu in the last eight.

Pledge to increase CCTV coverage after girl is attacked in Southend park

Southend Standard

Police are hunting a man who tried to grab a 13-year-old girl near public toilets in a park in Southend. 

Southend taxi driver robbed at knife-point

A taxi driver has had a knife held to his throat by a customer in Southend.

Map of Southend
BBC

The 48-year-old victim collected the attacker at a taxi rank close to Southend Victoria railway station last night, Essex Police say.

He drove him to Lundy Close in the town before the suspect held a knife to his throat and demanded his takings. The driver suffered a minor cut to his neck and a small amount of cash was stolen. 

Bus fire causes delays around south Essex

A bus fire that closed a busy road linking the A1245 to Sadlers Farm Roundabout has been causing delays this morning. 

Essex Fire and Rescue said it was called to the blaze at about 06:00. Upon arrival the vehicle was 100% alight. 

The road, which was closed southbound because of the dangers posed by the fire, has since reopen but delays remain in the area. There are no reports of any injuries. 

A1245
Google

Colleen Westlake inquest to open today

An inquest is due to open today into the death of a woman in Chelmsford.

Pines Road
BBC

Colleen Westlake, 48, was found dead along with a seriously injured 59-year-old man in Pines Road at 01:30 on 17 April. 

Craig Bird, 31, of no fixed abode, has been charged with murder and attempted murder.  

Sunshine returns to Chelmsford ahead of Essex v Northamptonshire day three

After just nine overs were played yesterday in Essex's match against Northamptonshire, it looks as if the weather above Chelmsford is a bit better today... fingers crossed! 

View more on twitter

Weather: Windy and cold with wintry showers

Kate Kinsella

BBC Look East weather

Frequent wintry showers will affect the East region through the morning accompanied by a strong northerly wind. 

Showers may turn heavy and thundery at times with a wintry mix of hail, sleet and snow too. Maximum temperature: 10C (50F).

Heading out? Keep up-to-date with the forecast where you live from BBC Weather.

Headlines: Junior doctors' strike cancels 3,000 Essex appointments... Ronnie O'Sullivan loses to Barry Hawkins

Sonia Watson

BBC Essex

Here are the top stories from Essex: 

  • More than 3,000 appointments and operations have been cancelled across Essex due to the junior doctors' strike
  • There are delays this morning after a bus fire closed a busy road between the A1245 and Sadlers Farm Roundabout
  • Chigwell's Ronnie O'Sullivan failed to reach the World Championship quarter-finals for just the second time in 13 years as he suffered a thrilling final-frame defeat against Barry Hawkins  

Junior doctors' strike begins...

More than 3,000 operations and appointments have been cancelled over the next two days as junior doctors walk out over a row about new contracts.

Figures for Essex
BBC

Junior doctors will suspend their services from routine and emergency care until 17:00. It is the first time services such as A&E, maternity and intensive care have been hit in the long-running dispute.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the strikes as "extreme" and "deeply worrying for patients".

Welcome to Essex Live

Jack Warren

BBC Local Live

Good morning and welcome to Essex Live on Tuesday.

We'll have all the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for the county until 18:00.

If you'd like to get in touch or share a story you can email us, tweet us, or visit our Facebook page.