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  1. Updates for Thursday 13 April 2017
  2. Fuel tankers destroyed by fire on industrial estate
  3. Alastair Cook back from injury for Essex
  4. Search for descendents of war soldiers after 'dog tag' find

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Goodbye for the week

That's all from the team providing regular updates of news, travel, sport and weather in Essex for this week.  

Here's a recap of some of the stories we've been covering - but scroll down for more:

  • Fire which saw five tankers go up in flames is "not suspicious"
  • Tommy the tortoise is found and reunited with his owners
  • A man is jailed for two years for sexual offences against a child

We'll be back from 08:00 on Tuesday.

Have a great Easter.

Man filmed allegedly stealing coins from park's wishing pond
A man appears to take penny-pinching a step too far when he is caught taking coins from a park pond.

Tools worth £3.5k stolen from community project

Stuart Woodward

BBC Essex

Tools worth £3,500 have been stolen from a community project which enables men to learn new skills. 

The electrical tools were taken from Maldon Men's Shed at some point between 13:00 on Monday and 10:20 on Wednesday. 

The men's shed is aimed at helping members learn new skills and socialise. They make woodwork and craft projects. 

Bob Adams, from the scheme, said: "It's absolutely devastating for us but I suppose the true British spirit is that although it's a terrible tragedy to us, we won't be beaten."  

Six new caravans arrive at Walton site

A further group of travellers have turned up at Walton’s Bath House Meadow, bringing the total number of caravans to 16.

Caravans at Walton site
Tendring District Council

Tendring District Council is already taking action against several caravans that were next to the Walton Lifestyles facility. They were given 24 hours to leave the area. 

Nigel Brown, the council's communications manager, said the council had been told the initial group was staying one night before catching a ferry to Holland.

He said: "Not only have they not moved on but they have been joined by another six new caravans which means a significant number taking up a considerable amount of space."

The council will continue to monitor the situation today and over the weekend.

Tortoise 'warm, fed and back with pals'

A tortoise who went missing and was thought to have been stolen has been reunited with his hard-shelled friends.

Salvation Army

As we reported earlier, Tommy the tortoise was found at Hockley Woods, five miles away from his home at Hadleigh Farm Rare Breeds Centre.

He was handed into the vets and traced back to Hadleigh Farm by a microchip.

Centre manager Emma Sayer, pictured below with Tommy, said: “Although initially a little confused and hungry, Tommy is now warm, fed and back with friends Tammy and Pebbles.

"A huge thank you to all those that shared his story and helped bring him home."

Emma Sayer with Tommy
Salvation Army

Child victim praised for 'bravery and courage'

Police have praised a girl for her bravery after a man was jailed for child abduction and sexual offences.

As we've reported, steel worker James Johnston, of D'Arcy Road, Colchester, was jailed for two years after admitting the crimes at Ipswich Crown Court.

He has also been placed on the sex offenders' register.

Investigating officer Det Con Rachel Moss, from Essex Police, said: "Johnston took advantage of the victim's vulnerability. 

"I pay tribute to her bravery and courage for coming forward and to her family who have been a huge support and strength to her. 

"I'd like to thank the victim and her family for their support throughout this investigation and for helping to bring Johnston to justice.” 

Steel worker jailed for sexual offences against a child

A man has been jailed for two years after admitting sexual offences against a child.

James Johnston
Essex Police

James Johnston, 31, a steel worker from D’Arcy Road, Colchester, was given a child abduction warning notice in January after police received reports of him engaging with a 14-year-old girl. 

Further investigations in February showed he had continued to contact the victim and he was subsequently arrested for child abduction.

He was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court to child abduction and sexual activity with a child. 

Johnston has also been placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.  

Tanker blaze 'not suspicious'

A fire which saw five fuel tankers go up in flames is not being treated as suspicious.

Tanker fire
Essex Fire and Rescue

As we've been reporting, the blaze broke out at the industrial estate at Botany Way in Purfleet at about 22:00 on Wednesday.

Five fuel tankers were involved.  

At its height, more than 40 firefighters were on the scene. 

Essex Fire and Rescue Service said although the investigation is ongoing, the blaze is not being treated as suspicious. 

It is thought it may have been started by an electrical fault.

Severe disruption: M25 Greater London clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London clockwise severe disruption, between J25 for A10 and J26 for A121.

M25 Greater London - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M25 clockwise between J25, A10 (Enfield) and J26, A121 (Waltham Abbey), because of a broken down van.

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

Injury doubts for The Shrimpers

There are injury doubts for Southend United ahead of their Good Friday clash with Chesterfield.

The Shrimpers could be without Anton Ferdinand, Adam Thompson, John White and Nile Ranger for the League One match.

Thompson has not trained this week due to tonsillitis, the club said.

Southend United
Southend United
Fire engulfs fuel tankers on Essex industrial estate
Five fuel tankers have been destroyed in a fire at an industrial estate in Purfleet, Essex.

Concerns for missing father-of-one

Motorists are being asked to help police find a missing man.

Nigel Kedar has been missing from his Clacton home for more than a week. The 52-year-old visited Norwich on 2 April and was last seen two days later, walking along the A140 at Pulham Market in the direction of the A14.

Nigel Kedar
Norfolk police

Det Ch Insp Marie James says it's likely that Mr Kedar was walking home, as the route - the A12, A14, A140 into Norwich - is one he's familiar with.

Police are asking for any drivers with dash cams, who may have travelled on the road on that day, to come forward with their footage.

Our concerns are increasing every day... it's very much out-of-character for Nigel not to be in contact with family and friends, he has a young son who he'd regularly be in contact with."

Det Ch Insp Marie JamesNorfolk police

A cloudy but dry afternoon

It will turn cloudier through the afternoon but it should stay mainly dry. 

The best of any brightness will be across southern areas with light winds throughout. 

Maximum temperature 12C (54F).

Get a full forecast where you live from BBC Weather.


Tommy the tortoise is found in woods

A tortoise which police believed had been stolen has been found.

Tommy the tortoise
Essex Police

Salvation Army's Rare Breeds Centre in Hadleigh told BBC Essex a member of the public discovered Tommy in Hockley Woods.

The creature had gone missing on Monday.

The centre said he was "feeling fine despite being a little cold and hungry".  

New tunnel will 'disrupt and destroy' villages

The new Lower Thames Crossing will "destroy" villages, according to those who live close to the preferred route.

John and Jackie Thacker

As we reported, the government announced there will be a tunnel linking Gravesend and Tilbury.

The planned route will cut through the Essex countryside from North Ockendon to Orsett and around Chadwell St Mary to Tilbury. 

Jackie Thacker, who lives with her husband John in Orsett, said their Grade II-listed barn could be demolished to make way for this road.

She said: "They're disrupting and destroying the last of the few beautiful villages around Thurrock and the North Ockendon area, the peace and quiet people enjoy at the moment, away from the London encroachment.

"We understand progress has got to happen but not to disrupt and destroy people's lives. Once that road goes through, there's no going back."

The Department of Transport said most of the 47,000 people who responded to a consultation chose the new tunnel as the preferred river crossing option.

The planned tunnel route
Highways England
Alastair Cook

Ex-England captain Alastair Cook is included in Essex's 13-man squad for Friday's County Championship match at Somerset.

Read more

VIDEO: Adapted car 'is my lifeline'

Changes to the benefits system mean some people are having their adapted cars, scooters or powered wheelchairs taken away from them. 

According to figures, more than 50,000 vehicles have already been reclaimed. 

The charity Motability, which provides the vehicles, has said it is a government decision to determine who is eligible for the scheme. 

The Department for Work and Pensions said it is constantly reviewing its processes and most people leaving the scheme are eligible for a one-off payment of up to £2,000 to meet their needs.

Jade Hamnett, a member of a group called Fair Access to Colchester, is one of those affected:

View more on twitter

Investigation into tank fire under way

An investigation has been launched into a fire which saw five tankers destroyed at a Purfleet industrial estate.

As we've been reporting, firefighters were called to Botany Way, just before 22:00 on Wednesday, where they found the tankers were already "well alight". 

No-one was injured and Essex Fire and Rescue Service has started its investigation this morning.

View more on twitter

VIDEO: Hunt for descendants of war soldiers

A man from Stansted is desperately trying to trace the descendants of soldiers who fought in World War Two after he found personal identity 'dog tags' in a field just outside London. 

He's managed to track down eight families so far - but he's got 14,000 still to go.     

Severe accident: M25 Greater London anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London anti-clockwise severe accident, between J28 for A1023 Brook Street and J27 for M11.

M25 Greater London - Slow traffic on M25 anticlockwise between J28, A1023 (Brook Street Roundabout) and J27 M11, because of an accident involving car and three lorries earlier on. All lanes have been re-opened.

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

No injuries reported in huge industrial fire

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

The fire service says there were no reported injuries in a big fire that destroyed five fuel tankers at an industrial estate overnight.

Purfleet fuel tanker fire
Essex Fire and Rescue Service

Essex Fire and Rescue said it was called to Botany Way, Purfleet, just before 22:00 on Wednesday, where they found the tankers were already "well alight".

One of the lorries was empty but the other four had a combined load of 45,000 litres of diesel and kerosene.

The fire was extinguished by 00:30.

Purfleet fuel tanker fire
Essex Fire and Rescue Service
Purfleet fuel tanker fire
Essex Fire and Rescue Service

Welcome to Thursday's Essex Live

Good morning, it's great to have your company.

If you listen closely, you may hear the sound of the county's free-range chickens celebrating their first taste of freedom since the beginning of December, when owners were told they had to keep their birds inside because of fears over avian flu.

The team here may have less freedom to enjoy the fresh air though, as they prepare to keep you posted on what else is happening across Essex.

Don't forget you can join in too, by clicking on the "Get involved" link at the top of this page, if there's anything happening where you live or work, that you'd like to share with us.

Free range chickens

Thursday's weather: Early sunshine before it clouds over

Sara Thornton

BBC Weather

There'll be some sunshine, but make the most of it, as cloud will increase as we go through the afternoon. 

The cool north westerly wind may bring a little drizzle much later on, but mostly we've got a dry day ahead of us.

Top temperature: 12C (54F).

Watch my full regional forecast here:

Thames Crossing: 'This is a scandal'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

The MP in whose constituency the new Lower Thames Crossing will be sited says 'a historic opportunity' has been missed. 

Severe disruption: M25 Greater London anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London anti-clockwise severe disruption, at J28 for A1023 Brook Street.

M25 Greater London - M25 lane closed on entry slip road anticlockwise at J28, A1023 (Brook Street Roundabout), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Thames Crossing: 'This is a scandal'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

The MP in whose constituency the new Lower Thames Crossing will be built says a "historic opportunity" has been missed.

Thames Crossing: Good news for Dartford?

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

The announcement of a new tunnel between Gravesend and Tilbury to ease pressure on the Dartford Crossing is going down well in Dartford town centre.

That's it for our live updates

Our regular updates on a busy day for Essex have come to an end, but if a major story breaks you'll find the details here.

We'll be back from 08:00 on Thursday.

Have a good evening.

Weather: Much colder overnight and sunny spells tomorrow

BBC Weather

This evening will be rather cloudy with the chance of a few spots of light rain. Skies will clear later, leaving low overnight temperatures of 3C - that's 37F.

Weather graphic

Tomorrow will start chilly but it will be mainly dry with sunny spells and the odd isolated shower. Highs of 12C, that's 54F.

BBC Weather has more local forecasts. 

Travellers given notice to leave council land in Walton-on-the-Naze

Action has been taken to remove a group of travellers from a leisure site in Walton-on-the-Naze, the local council has said.

Travellers on Bath House Meadow, Walton
Tendring District Council

Officials say nine caravans and twelve vehicles are on the Tendring District Council-owned land at Bath House Meadow, near Walton Lifestyles centre. 

The travellers have been given 24 hours to leave.  

The group has said they were just stopping for a day or so before leaving for the Netherlands.

Travellers on Bath House Meadow, Walton
Tendring District Council

Have you spotted stolen Tommy the tortoise?

Zoe Applegate

BBC News

A tortoise has been stolen from a farm in Hadleigh.

Tommy the tortoise
Essex Police

Police are appealing for information to find Tommy, who was last spotted on Monday at a birthday party at the Salvation Army's rare breed centre in Hadleigh.

The eight-year-old tortoise is eight inches long (20cm) and micro-chipped, police said.

Centre manager Emma Sayer said Tommy was found to be missing after the centre closed at 16:00.

"Tommy was one of three tortoises at the centre and we would like to reunite him with his two female companions," she said.

New crossing to be finished in 'next decade'

Back now to the new Lower Thames Crossing.

As we reported earlier, the project is set to cost £4.4bn, with the tunnel linked by a new road in Essex which will join the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.

Map of Lower Thames Crossing project
Highways England

Highways England has said about 55 million journeys a year are made on the Dartford Crossing - six million more than it was designed for - and it has to be closed daily while incidents are dealt with.

There will be a 70mph speed limit along the 13-mile stretch (21km).

The project is expected to be completed by around 2025-27.

A shortlisted option to build a new bridge or tunnel next to the existing bridge and tunnel at Dartford was rejected.

High Court judge delays sentencing in Hovefields travellers' case

Gareth George

BBC Look East

I've been at the High Court today for a case about a family of travellers who claim they didn't realise they were breaking planning laws when they developed a site in Wickford. 

Touring caravans were replaced by static mobile homes in breach of a court injunction at the site, the court heard.

It was thought Mr Justice Kerr was due to decide today what sentence the travellers - Thomas Anderson, Eileen Anderson, Winnie Anderson, Margaret Anderson and Arran Jones - could face, but the hearing has now been postponed to 5 May.

The action against another traveller was dropped. 

Thames Crossing: 'More con than consultation'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

A historic Kent church will be cut off from its parish by the new Lower Thames Crossing.

Its vicar's hitting out at the consultation process which lead to the decision.

First Essex Bus accepting train travellers on some routes

Zoe Applegate

BBC News

Chelmsford train station
Nigel Thompson/Geograph

We have been told that First Essex Bus will accept Greater Anglia tickets on some routes.

Those are the numbers 71, 72, 100 and 351.

Greater Anglia said they would be giving out as much information as possible to travellers affected by the disruption.

Follow them on Twitter @greateranglia

Pensioner sentenced with cat on his lap

An Essex man who hit the headlines after a judge allowed him to take his cat into the dock to calm his nerves has been sentenced for stalking two women and breaching a restraining order.

Chelmsford Crown Court

The pet was also with Aidan Wiltshire, 74, of Brownings Avenue, Chelmsford, at today's hearing at the city's crown court. 

The cat called Taylor was said to keep Wiltshire calm. He was given an 18-month supervision order.

He was declared unfit to plead at last month's two-day hearing, but a jury decided he was guilty.

Wiltshire, who was living as a woman and calling himself Anne at the time, had stalked a London lawyer and church minister and also breached a restraining order not to contact one of them.

Today, Judge David Turner QC told Wiltshire his behaviour towards the two women was intrusive, disruptive and intimidating. 

Death at Chelmsford train station 'not suspicious'

We have just had this statement from the British Transport Police:

"Officers were called to Chelmsford railway station at around 15:50 today to reports that a person had been struck by a train. 

"The ambulance service were also called but sadly a man was pronounced dead at the scene. 

"We are working to identify him and inform his next-of-kin.

"The incident is not currently being treated as suspicious."