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  1. Our live coverage has now ended
  2. Live updates on Thursday 20 July

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Another night over

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Thanks very much for joining us today, we'll be back first thing tomorrow morning, from 06:00 BST, with more of the county's news, sport and weather.

River Rother rower's rather big challenge

A 95-year-old former World War Two pilot from Wittersham is about to set off on an epic rowing challenge.

Lauren's feet kept growing, but nobody could explain why

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

A doctor diagnosed Lauren with a condition that only affects about 60 people out of every million, just by looking at Facebook.

Great expectations for historic reopening in Rochester

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

An historic building, which inspired Dickens' writing, is reopening after a lengthy restoration project.

Train misses car 'by seconds' at level crossing

CCTV from the driver's cab

A train has narrowly missed hiting a car on a level crossing after the automatic barries failed to close, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has reported.

The Southeastern train passed over the Broad Oak near Canterbury crossing with the barriers raised on 29 June.

CCTV from the train driver's cab shows a car crossing the road about 12 seconds before the train reached the crossing.

The driver who recognised the danger had already slowed the train.

Celebrating the work of Michael Morpurgo

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

A new exhibition celebrating the work of children's author Michael Morpurgo is about to open in London.

Here are five facts you may not know about him.

Sun and showers

Rachel Mackley

Weather Presenter

You'll need both your brolly and your sunglasses, as we've got a mixed few days of weather ahead.

Find out more in my latest forecast.

Southern analysis from our Political Reporter: Credit where credit's due?

Ben Weisz

Political reporter, BBC Sussex

Well that didn't take long.

A day after the rail unions agreed to suspend their industrial action, the drivers' union Aslef has met the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The guards' RMT union (which represents some drivers too) will meet him tomorrow.

The Secretary of State described the first meeting as "constructive". He's been clear he doesn't think it's his place to negotiate terms with the unions - that's for Govia Thameslink - but said earlier he hoped these meetings could reopen those talks.

This wouldn't be a Southern Rail story without a bit of a political tussle. Tories are both privately and publicly furious at Eastbourne's Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd, who they claim has taken credit for this development.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

They point out that Chris Grayling has frequently offered to meet with the unions on the condition they called off their strike action - see here, here and here - so today's meeting, they say, doesn't represent a climbdown or a change of position on his part.

But since the unions announced their offer to suspend action after a meeting with Mr Lloyd, Lib Dems say he deserves credit.

In reality, all this talk of who to praise may be a little premature. We know too well that talks don't always end in deals, and deals don't always end disputes if rejected by rank and file members.

This renewed diplomacy gives grounds for optimism, but it's a little early for celebration.

Severe accident: M2 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M2 Kent eastbound severe accident, between J6 for A251 and J7 for A2 Canterbury Road.

M2 Kent - M2 closed and queuing traffic for six miles coastbound between J6, A251 (Faversham) and J7, A2 (Brenley Corner), because of an accident involving three vehicles. Diversion in operation - Follow the Solid Black Circle, which will take you onto the A251 Northbound then the A2 Eastbound to rejoin the M2 Junction 7.

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

BreakingTalks with Southern strike union and Government begin

Sue Nicholson

BBC News

The government had said it has held "constructive talks" with the union representing drivers on Southern rail.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he hoped the meeting would "pave the way for the reopening of negotiations" between Aslef and Southern.

In a statement, Aslef described the talks as "proactive", and added: "Further talks are planned with both the company and then the minister."

The union called off three strikes on Southern in August ahead of the talks. It also lifted a ban on overtime and rest day working.

Thinking of buying a dog? Be careful who you get it from

Calls to the RSPCA complaining about unscrupulous puppy sales have risen in the South East.

'He'd been shot 7 times...4 pellets remain in his skull'

Alex Bish

Investigative journalist, BBC South East

The animals killed or maimed by the irresponsible use of airguns, with the South East one of the worst areas of the country for attacks.

Protests expected as council discusses closing children's centres

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Medway Council officials will meet parents later who are angry over proposals to close Sure Start children's centres as part of its budget cuts.

There are tough decisions to be made. We cannot stand still and do nothing at all. Medway’s children and families are at the heart of everything we do and therefore their best interests will be at the centre of our decisions based on the consultation outcome.

Cllr Andrew Mackness(Con) Medway Council

Severe disruption: M20 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

M20 Kent westbound severe disruption, before J8 for A20 Leeds Castle.

M20 Kent - One lane closed and slow traffic on M20 London-bound before J8, A20 (Leeds Castle), because of a police incident.

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

ICYMI: Your amazing storm pictures

Tom Darby

BBC Live reporter

Storms over Margate
Mark Battersby

Hundreds of you got in touch with your pictures of this week's epic storm across the South East.

We've compiled the best of them in a gallery on our Facebook page, here's a taster of a few of our favourites.

Lightning over Eastbourne
Matt Cooper
Lightning in Horsham
Ollie Buchanan
Lightning over East Kent
Greg Esson

Severe disruption: A2 Kent westbound

BBC News Travel

A2 Kent westbound severe disruption, at M25 J2 affecting A2260 Southfleet Road Northfleet.

A2 Kent - A2 in Darenth exit slip road closed and queuing traffic westbound at Darenth Interchange, because of a lorry fire and recovery work. Diversion in operation - traffic can still access the M25 by using the Darenth Interchange roundabout. Congestion to Northfleet.

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

It's turning unsettled...

Georgina Burnett

BBC Weather

...although tomorrow will be brighter.

Here's my forecast.

Alfie's at the Open

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Alfie Plant, the amateur from Dartford, teed off at Royal Birkdale this morning.

And he was followed by 150 loyal fans.

View more on twitter

They soon had something to cheer about - Alfie hit a birdie at the first.

View more on twitter

And isn't his mum Emma nervous!

View more on twitter

You can follow Alfie's progress, and the rest of the Open, here.

No dogs on this beach until.... when?

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Sign painted on the floor
Sally Waterfall

A council sparked a few chuckles after commissioning a "no dogs" sign until "September 31st" - despite the month having 30 days.

Thanet District Council has a dog ban on part of the beach for the duration of the summer.

The error, spotted by a couple of regular dog walkers earlier in the week, was made by the contractors who painted the large sign on the floor.

Thanet confirmed the sign was corrected earlier.

A2 delays to continue through the day

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

The disruption to the A2 London-bound near Swanscombe is expected to last until the start of this evening's rush hour.

It was caused when a lorry full of Lion Bar chocolate caught fire between the junctions with the A2260 and the M25.

Lorry fire on A2
Highways England

One lane has been opened, two of the four remain closed.Highways England says there are currently delays of 90 minutes, with the road not expected to clear until between 16:00 and 16:10 BST.

Lorry fire on A2
Highways England

South East buildings up for award

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Two of the South East's newest buildings have been shortlisted for a major prize.

Hastings Pier and the redeveloped Chatham Dockyard, named Command of the Oceans, are among six projects nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize.

Hastings Pier
Hastings Pier

They're up against buildings in Glasgow and London.

Command of the Oceans, Chatham Dockyard
The Command of the Oceans, Chatham Dockyard

The winner will be announced on 31 October.

Severe accident: M25 Essex clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Essex clockwise severe accident, from J31 for A1306 to J1A for A206.

M25 Essex - Slow traffic and one lane closed on M25 QE2 Bridge clockwise from J31, A1306 (West Thurrock) to J1a, A206 (Swanscombe), because of an accident.

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

People smuggling by air and water

Colin Campbell

Special Correspondent, BBC South East

Migrants trying to cross the Channel are using increasingly sophisticated and desperate methods, with attempts foiled in the air and on the water this week.

Delays across London-bound routes

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Kent County Council Highways has issued a warning of delays across various London-bound roads after a lorry fire partially closed the A2:

  • M20 London bound between Junction 7 (A249) and Junction 4 (A228)
  • A249 southbound between M2 Junction 5 and M20 Junction 7
  • A229 southbound between M2 Junction 3 and M20 Junction 6.
Map of traffic
Kent Highways

Lorry blazed for more than three hours

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

A chocolate-loaded lorry burned for more than three hours, it has emerged.

Kent Police was called at 02:59 BST to the London-bound carriageway of the A2 near Bluewater.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Highways Agency officers are still dealing with the incident and are in the process of removing the cargo.

Lorry fire cleanup
Daniel Spinks

At 05:30 BST police were called again to a collision involving a car and a motorcycle, again on the London-bound carriageway of the A2, near Northfleet.

Police officers and South East Coast Ambulance Service attended and two people received medical attention for injuries that are described as minor.

Severe disruption: M2 Kent eastbound

BBC News Travel

M2 Kent eastbound severe disruption, at J3 for A229 Chatham.

M2 Kent - M2 lane closed on exit slip road coastbound at J3, A229 (Chatham), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Truck load of chocolate up in flames

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

A lorry which was engulfed in flames on the A2 is understood to have been loaded with chocolate.

Firefighters are at the scene, near the Bean junction for Bluewater and efforts are being made the remove what's left of the cargo, believed to be a consignment of chocolate bars, so that the vehicle can be moved once the fire is out.

There are no reports of any injuries and the cause of the fire is not known.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus are using a high-pressure hose reel jet with compressed air foam, fog spike and cold-cut firefighting equipment to extinguish the blaze which is concentrated in the cab of the lorry."

SpokesmanKent Fire and Rescue Service

Lorry completely destroyed in blaze

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Lorry on the A2
Dean Scott

A large lorry and its cargo has been destroyed after being completely engulfed in flames earlier this morning.

The vehicle is still smoking and emergency services remain at the scene.

The A2 London bound still has three of four lanes closed and normal traffic conditions are not expected until around 10:45 BST.

The lorry still smoking
Highways England

A crash between the junctions for Gravesend west and Gravesend central is also adding to the congestion.

It is understood at least one person has been injured.

It's another day for an umbrella

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

There's more unsettled weather on the way today.

Here's my forecast.

Lorry fire closes part of A2

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

A lorry fire on the A2 at Swanscombe has closed three of the four London-bound lanes.

Emergency services are at the scene.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Is this really a Kent beach?

Carole Adams' shot of Ramsgate Main Sands looks absolutely tropical, it's our #PhotoOfTheDay.

Margate main sands
Carole Adams

We'll be here until 22:00 BST with all your news, sport, travel and weather.

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