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  1. Updates on Friday, 7 July 2017
  2. Ambulance driver cleared of causing death 77-year-old pedestrian
  3. Witham armed robber gets 15 year sentence
  4. Squatters take over 'unlocked' former Job Centre building
  5. Fire service staff visit high-rise block residents over safety concerns
  6. 'Care will continue' as provider pulls out, council leader says
  7. MP vows to prevent 'diminishment' of hospital services in Southend
  8. Colchester sign goalkeeper released by Premier League club

Live Reporting

By Patrick Byrne

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the week

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

That's it from the Essex Live team for this week so goodbye and enjoy the weekend whatever the weather brings us.

We'll be back from 08:00 on Monday, bringing you the news, sport, travel and weather updates as they happen.

Today we've covered a wide range of stories and here are some of them.

  • 'Home care will continue' as provider prepares to pull out in November, county council leader says
  • Firefighters visit high-rise flats to reassure residents with safety fears after the Grenfell Tower tragedy
  • An ambulance driver is found not guilty of causing death by careless driving

For details of these stories and more just scroll down the page and if you want to comment use the "Get involved" button at the top of the page.

Weather: Cloudy with possibility of sharp showers

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

Cloud will develop from the north west bringing a small chance of isolated sharp showers across the BBC East region tonight.

But it will remain dry for many areas with clear spells later.

Weather chart

Light rain or drizzle is possible across western counties later as the temperature falls to 12C (54F) in places.

Saturday will be another dry day with sunny spells and some cloud and it will be cooler on the coast.

Maximum temperature: 23C (76F)

More details from BBC Weather:

Witham armed robber jailed for 15 years

Tom Croasdell

BBC Essex

A man who robbed a cash delivery van in an armed raid in Witham, stealing £235,000 in cash, has been jailed for 15 years.

Joe Turner, 29, wearing a balaclava, was one of a gang armed with a shotgun who attacked two security guards at the Asda store in Highfields on the morning of 14 December 2016 as they stopped to refill an cash machine.

Joe Turner
Essex Police

One guard was forced onto his knees and the other was ordered to remove money from their security van.

The men then made off in a BMW 4x4 driven by a third man and later found abandoned in Speedwell Close, Witham.

DNA and fingerprints found inside this vehicle were linked to Turner, of Vincent Road, Dagenham who was arrested on 4 April 2017 and later charged.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an offensive weapon at Chelmsford Crown Court last week.

He returned to the court today and was jailed for a total of 15 years.

Officers rescue 'over heating' dog from locked car

It seems some dog owners are still unaware of the dangers of leaving pets inside locked vehicles during the height of summer, but these police officers in Chelmsford came to the rescue of this grateful dog.

View more on twitter

Village supermarket staff threatened with hammer by raider

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Two men who robbed a village supermarket near Dunmow are being sought by police.

One of the men climbed over the counter at the Co-Operative in Hallett Road, Flitch Green, on Wednesday morning and demanded money from three staff members.

The other pushed one of the victims and threatened him with a hammer. They stole a four-figure sum of cash, police said.

Two men and a woman were left shaken but unharmed.

The raiders were described as white, about 5ft 8ins tall and had their faces covered. One wore a grey tracksuit, the other a black tracksuit. Both wore baseball caps and hooded tops.

Severe accident: M11 Essex northbound

BBC News Travel

M11 Essex northbound severe accident, between J6 for M25 and J7 for A414 affecting J4 for A406.

M11 Essex - Slow traffic on M11 northbound between J6 M25 and J7, A414 (Harlow), because of an accident, which is now on the hard shoulder. All lanes have been re-opened. Congestion to J4, A406 (Woodford).

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

Squatters take over 'unlocked' former Job Centre building

Robby West

BBC Look East

Squatters have taken over the four-storey former Job Centre, Regent House, in Basildon claiming they've moved in due to lack of housing.

Closed over a year ago, the building now houses four squatters and three dogs.

Tom Keys

Tom Keys said he gained access to the building through the old staff entrance door which was unlocked and protected only by a catch he was able to push open.

He does not feel he has done anything wrong as he was homeless and said: "Everyone deserves a roof over their head."

He had been in another squat and discovered Regent House as he was looking for somewhere else to live.

Basildon councillor Kerry Smith said incidents like this are due to the government not allowing councils to borrow money to build houses.

Telereal Trillium, which currently owns the building, is now attempting to regain possession.

Weather: Strange cloud formations herald muggy night

BBC Weather Watchers

Our BBC Weather Watchers have pictured some strange cloud formations over the county today heralding another dry night.

The skimpy cloud of the day will thicken as twilight arrives and a few spots of rain are possible in the early hours.

For some it may be another uncomfortable muggy night for sleeping.

Minimum temperature: 17C (63F)

More details from BBC Weather.

Chadwell St Mary
Bishop's Stortford

Fire service staff visit high-rise block residents over safety concerns

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Fire service staff are visiting residents living in 4,725 individual flats in high-rise buildings across the county to reassure them of their safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.

Technical fire safety officers have been carrying out full checks on high-rise flats in Essex, and have already completed 56 audits with no related fire safety issues flagged up.

Grenfell Tower
REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Essex fire crews, community teams and volunteers are also giving residents fire safety advice.

They have visited 95 blocks to meet residents of 4,725 individual flats.

Acting Chief Fire Officer, Adam Eckley, said: "Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower we have received lots of questions from concerned residents who live in high-rise buildings.

"Over the coming weeks, we will continue to visit the remaining high-rise flats to reassure the residents and give them fire safety advice," he said.

Mural pays tribute to radio inventor Marconi and his company

Chris Flynn

BBC Essex

A mural has been unveiled at Chelmsford railway station to mark the contribution made to the city by Giuseppe Marconi who was credited with the invention of radio and the company he built up which became a leader in aerospace technology and communications.

Marconi mural

"He was a tremendous influence in his time and up to today in space exploration and the development of worldwide communications, " Jude Deakin, councillor for the Marconi ward in Chelmsford said.

"Without his wireless invention we would not have the worldwide communications network that we have now.

"It's also a striking mural that the city and county councils as well as the railway have got involved with.

"People want to see more of this type of heritage activity and this is a very good first step."

Man charged with dangerous driving over fatal crash

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

A man from Tiptree has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving after a fatal crash between a Mercedes and a Ford Transit van.

The 31-year-old man was charged in connection with the death of Mischa Bond, from Tiptree, who died after the collision in Witham Road, Tolleshunt Major on 13 January 2016.

He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on 2 August.

Ambulance driver cleared of causing death of 77-year-old pedestrian

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

An ambulance driver on an emergency call whose vehicle hit and killed a man on a pedestrian crossing has been found not guilty of causing death by careless driving.

Faye Parson, 41, was responding to a 999 call on 4 February last year when she collided with Michael Daly, 77, in Danbury near Chelmsford. He died later.

Faye Parson

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that according to the ambulance's data recorder Ms Parson had been driving at 29mph (46.5km/h) - under the 30mph speed limit.

The defendant, of Church Street, Braintree, pulled into the wrong lane to overtake a queue of traffic as she approached the crossing, the court was told.

Dentist Mr Daly was crossing the A414 Main Road on his way home from his surgery when he was hit.

BreakingFatal collision 999 call ambulance driver not guilty

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

An ambulance driver has been found not guilty of causing death by careless driving over the death of a 77-year-old man on a pedestrian crossing while on a 999 call at Danbury in Essex.

More to follow.

Young people showing their talents on Village Green Festival stages

A day before the Village Green festival gets under way school pupils and college students have been given the stages and facilities to demonstrate their talent, expertise and commitment to art, music and culture.

More than 4,000 of them are at Chalkwell Park in Southend and having a great time in the sunshine.

View more on twitter

Jury in ambulance driver fatal crash considering verdict

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

The jury in trial of an ambulance driver who denies causing death by careless driving has retired to consider its verdict.

Faye Parson was on a 999 call at Danbury when she hit a 77-year-old dentist on a pelican crossing.

The 41-year-old defendant denies the charge at the trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Village Green gives pupils the chance to try Bollywood dance

More from the Village Green festival day for young people - showing the diversity of culture in Southend.

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Festival welcomes school and college performers

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

The Village Green festival at Chalkwell Park in Southend has again extended its activities a day before the main event to include performances exclusively by and for Southend schoolchildren.

This year today's events are in partnership with South Essex College and Southend Borough Council.

View more on twitter

Village Green: Next Generation is taking advantage of all the facilities set up for Saturday's programme and young people have the opportunity to showcase their music, film, visual art and performing talents on a full size festival stage, organisers Metal said.

"It is also a chance to try out all kinds of new skills through art, music and performance activities, journalism workshops and much more - through workshops with professional artists," a spokesman said.

Skateboarding Staffordshire bull terrier owner wants to improve breed's image
A Staffordshire bull terrier owner says they are "no more dangerous" than other breeds of dog.

Colchester sign goalie released by Premier League club

BBC Sport

Colchester United have added goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin to their squad for the new League Two campaign.

He's signed after being released by Watford at the end of last season.

Rene Gilmartin
Getty Images

The 30-year-old signed twice for Watford in his career and also played for Walsall, Yeovil Town, Crawley Town and Plymouth Argyle.

Dublin-born Gilmartin made his debut in international football for the Republic of Ireland at under-19 and under-21 levels and also played for League of Ireland side St Patrick's Athletic.

His deal at Colchester is for an undisclosed length of time.

MP vows to prevent 'diminishment' of hospital services in Southend

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

The Conservative MP for Southend West says he will fight for the future of the town's hospital accident and emergency department.

NHS bosses want to turn Basildon into an emergency "super-hub", but are rejecting claims that it will mean downgrades at Southend and Broomfield in Chelmsford.

David Amess

David Amess MP put forward an adjournment debate in the House of Commons yesterday, so the issue could eventually be discussed in Parliament.

"This hospital is in the heart of the constituency I represent and just like several years ago similar moves were made at Basildon Hospital I stopped those," he told the House of Commons.

"I am not going to stand by to allow any changes that diminish the capability of Southend Hospital to provide the very best possible health care to the residents of the borough."

The Department of Health said an assurance had been given that Southend's accident and emergency department would continue to provide "substantial services" 24-hours-a-day, but it was proposed to transfer specialist cases to Basildon.

Health minister Steve Brine said he understood the MP's concerns, but there would still be a significant role for Southend A&E.

'Care will continue' as provider pulls out, council leader says

Sonia Watson

BBC Essex

We've been following the news that Mears Group, which provides home care for 260 people, has announced it will not be taking up a new contract with Essex County Council.

View more on twitter

Mears says the council's new offer is short of the minimum hourly rate of £16.70 per customer which is recommended by the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), which represents the care industry.

Conservative council leader David Finch has told BBC Essex the firm's trying to pressure them into offering more money and the service provider needs to look at its own cost base as other organisations are able to provide a quality service based on the money being offered.

Mears Group claims the proposed deal is worth 10% less than they're currently being paid, and isn't viable or safe, so it'll pull out when it expires in November.

Weather: Dry and very warm but cloudy later

Lucy Martin

BBC Weather

Bright or sunny spells will dominate and it will become very warm in a light breeze although cloud cover will increase in places.

Some rain showers are expected during a very muggy night.

Maximum Temperature: 27C (81F)

More details from BBC Weather:

Good morning from the BBC Essex Local Live team

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Hello and welcome to BBC Local Live for Essex.

We'll be providing the latest news, sport and travel for the county from now until 18:00.

Here are some of the stories we'll be covering:

  • After care provider Mears announces it is pulling out of a contract because of proposed cuts to its payments, the council replies.
  • The Southend MP says he'll fight for the future of the town's hospital which is being threatened with downgrading.

But first we'll have the weather coming up shortly from Lucy Martin and one of our BBC Weather Watchers has caught an early glimpse of the prospects.

Great Chesterford

That's all from BBC Local Live team in Essex

That's all from Local Live for Essex today - but, of course, we will update this feed with any breaking news overnight.

Take a scroll down the timeline to see the stories that have been hitting the headlines across the county today.

We will be back reporting news from 08:00 tomorrow - join us then.

Have a great evening.

In pictures: Injured veterans and soldiers compete in Phoenix games

Here are some pictures we hope might inspire you:

Boules, seated basketball and gym training
Phoenix House Recovery Centre

Today is the final day of a competition being held in North Yorkshire for wounded, injured and sick servicemen, women and veterans at the Phoenix Summer Games.

It's an annual event and this is the fourth year they've taken place.

The teams are from the four Help for Heroes Recovery Centres in Catterick in North Yorkshire, Plymouth, Colchester and Tidworth.

The games are being held at Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick.

Severe accident: A127 Essex eastbound

BBC News Travel

A127 Essex eastbound severe accident, between A129 Rayleigh Road and The Fairway affecting A132 East Mayne.

A127 Essex - One lane closed and heavy traffic on A127 Southend Arterial Road eastbound in Southend-On-Sea between Rayleigh Weir and The Fairway junction, because of a serious accident involving motorbike. Congestion to Nevendon.

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

From the archives: Clacton holiday camp 1947

Seventy years ago this month, a photographer took a picture of British holiday camp promoter Billy Butlin (centre) joining in with a sing along at one of his holiday camps in Clacton.

British holiday camp promoter Billy Butlin (centre) joins in with a sing along at one of his holiday camps in Clacton
Getty Images

From the archives: The sinking of the Arandora Star 1940

Seventy seven ago this month, the British liner Arandora Star, pictured at Tilbury docks, Essex, was sunk by a German U-boat off the west coast of Ireland, while carrying Italian nationals from Britain to internment camps in Canada.

British liner Arandora Star, pictured at Tilbury docks, Essex, in 1938
Getty Images

The sinking in the second year of the war saw the loss 682 people including 200 soldiers.

The surviving Italians were shipped back to Liverpool where they were transported to prison camps in Australia the following week.

To this day the remaining survivors of the Arandora Star gather at a small Italian church in London in remembrance of all those who died on the 1 July 1940.

The ship was photographed two years earlier at the docks.

Consultation on Stansted Airport expansion

Nic Rigby

BBC News

We reported earlier that a series of public consultation events start today about growth at Stansted Airport from 25m to 44m passengers a year by 2030.

The consultation events, between today and 19 July, are listed on a special Have Your Say website.

Stansted Airport

It will include events in Great Dunmow, Braintree, Thaxted, Stansted Mountfitchet, Hatfield Heath, Takeley, Thaxted, and Saffron Walden.

London Stansted Airport CEO Andrew Cowan said: "Stansted will be critical in supporting the UK's economic growth and increasing our global competitiveness.

"Making the most of existing capacity at Stansted over the next 10-15 years is a strategic priority and we want to hear what people across our region think."

Essex welcomes plans to widen A12

Plans to widen the A12 to three lanes, as part of a £6.1bn government road improvements plan, will help “unlock Essex’s economic potential” says Essex County Council.

The council welcomed the funding pledge from Transport Minister Jesse Norman.


It means work to widen the A12 between Chelmsford and the M25 at Brentwood, plus work along the Colchester Northern bypass, is making sufficient progress for proposals to be developed before they go out to public consultation.

Upgrades to these sections of the A12 were originally announced in the 2014 road investment strategy as areas which required initial design work to be done, before work could begin in 2020.

Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of the council, said: "The A12 is the transportation backbone of Essex, so widening it to three lanes will have a huge impact that will help unlock the county’s true economic potential."

American football in Thurrock

Essex Spartans spread interest in American football:

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Crash in Brightlingsea

One person being treated after crash in Essex.

View more on twitter

Double stabbing in Chelmsford was 'targeted attack'

Detectives say a double stabbing in Chelmsford this morning was a targeted attack - and there's no risk to the wider public.

A man's been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, after a man and a woman were attacked in Rookes Crescent.

Rookes Crescent, Chelmsford

Essex bowler 'Cricketer of the Month'

BBC Sport

Essex bowler Simon Harmer (pictured) - who took 28 wickets in matches against Warwickshire and Middlesex - has been named the Cricketer of the Month for June.

Simon Harmer
Getty Images

Severe disruption: A12 Essex southbound

BBC News Travel

A12 Essex southbound severe disruption, between J21 B1389 Hatfield Road and J20B B1137 The Street affecting J22 B1389.

A12 Essex - Queuing traffic and one lane closed on A12 London-bound between J21, B1389 (Witham South) and J20b, B1137 (Hatfield Peverel North), because of an earlier vehicle fire and an oil spillage. Congestion to J22, B1389 (Witham North).

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