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  1. Updates on Thursday, 19 May 2016
  2. BBC hosts East Anglia devolution debate for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire
  3. Police continue their investigation after a severed head was found in a Cambridgeshire quarry
  4. Suffolk County Council says a pair of twins can go to the same school, after originally being told they'd be separated
  5. A north Norfolk housing tenant says a mix-up means she's receiving energy bills for all her 10 neighbours
  6. Updates resume at 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Philippa Taylor and Alex Pope

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's it for our Local Live coverage for today

Philippa Taylor

BBC Local Live

Thanks for joining us for our Local Live special today, where we covered the East Anglia devolution debate and the rest of the day's news for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

We're now signing off, but we'll be back in the morning from 08:00 returning to our usual format.

Thanks for your company today. Scroll down the feed to see what was said in the BBC debate, and find out what else has been happening where you live.

Have a good evening.

Overnight weather: Patchy rain, becoming dry later

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

It will be turning cloudier as a band of patchy rain and drizzle moves in from the west this evening and overnight. Becoming drier later, with a minimum temperature of 9C (48F).

Friday's weather map

Starting dry and bright tomorrow, with the risk of isolated showers later. Highs of 19C (66F).

Get more on the forecast where you live at BBC Weather.

Flash, bang, wallop, what a picture!

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Personnel from RAF Wittering have come together to form a group photo with a difference...

Personnel at RAF Wittering marking out 100
RAF Wittering

It's been taken in front of the Gaydon Hangar to mark the station's 100th anniversary this year

No deal yet for Eastern powerhouse

Andrew Sinclair

BBC Look East political correspondent

Some of the big names in East of England business and politics came together this morning to discuss plans to devolve central government powers to Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Here's a round-up of what happened.

Thomas Cook shares hit as bookings fall

Peterborough-based Thomas Cook's share price has fallen almost 18%, after the travel company announced summer bookings were down 5% compared with last year.

The company said holidaymakers were avoiding Turkey, usually a popular destination, because of safety fears.

Thomas Cook store

Travel to Belgium has also seen a sharp decline after the Brussels attacks.

Revenue for the past six months has fallen to £2.67bn, down from £2.74bn for the same period last year.

Blue Flag success for Norfolk and Suffolk beaches

Philippa Taylor

BBC Local Live

Several beaches in Suffolk and Norfolk have been ranked among the best in the country by the Keep Britain Tidy group.

Lowestoft's South Beach (pictured) and the beach at Southwold Pier have once again been awarded Blue Flags - the international standard for the best beaches in the world.

Also joining that list are Cromer, Sea Palling, Sheringham and Mundesley beaches.

Lowestoft south beach
Tim Fenton

Ipswich woman jailed after Christmas Day arson

Kate Arkell

BBC Radio Suffolk

An Ipswich woman has been sentenced to three years, four months in prison after admitting starting a house fire in the town on Christmas Day.

Kerri Mills, 37, from La Salle Close, had previously pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to arson with intent to endanger life.

She had to be rescued from the blaze by police officers who broke down the door to get to her. 

Former police officer guilty of sexually assaulting young boys

Mousumi Bakshi

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

A former police officer has been convicted of a series of sexual assaults on two young boys in Cambridgeshire.

John Bates
Spalding Guardian

The jury at Lincoln Crown Court found 68-year-old John Bates guilty of 16 charges of indecent assault and two charges of indecency with a child. 

It heard how he attacked two boys in the 1970s and '80s when he was a scout master in Wittering. 

He's due to be sentenced tomorrow. 

Travel: A1 update

BBC Travel

The A1 remains closed southbound and there's queuing traffic between the Buckden roundabout and the Southoe turn-off in Cambridgeshire, because of a multi-vehicle accident. There's also congestion to the Offord turn-off.  

The road was closed at 15:50 and there are reports the air ambulance is at the scene. 

There are also problems northbound because people are slowing to look at the accident. 

Rugby union: A new arrival at Bury St Edmunds

Brenner Woolley

BBC Radio Suffolk sport

Bury St Edmunds have signed Cai Griffiths as a player-coach for the 2016-17 season. 

Cai Griffiths
Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club

The 32-year-old front-row prop has joined from Welsh professional club Ospreys and will have full responsibility for coaching the first team's forwards.

"I am delighted to be taking up this role where I feel I can add value to an already impressive set-up, both on the pitch and off it," said Griffiths. 

Travel: A1 southbound at Buckden closed

Drivers are being urged to avoid the A1 southbound between Buckden and Diddington because of an accident. 

The road is currently closed. 

View more on twitter

Cricket: Norfolk name unchanged XI for Trophy decider

Chris Goreham

BBC Radio Norfolk sport

Norfolk are sticking with the team that beat Northumberland for their final Unicorns Trophy group game against Cumberland on Sunday. 

If Norfolk avoid defeat at Fakenham they will clinch first place in their group and secure a home tie in the quarter finals next month.

Chris Brown's side have won all three of their matches so far. 

Abortion rates lowest in Cambridgeshire

Daniel Wainwright

Data unit - English regions

Abortion rates in Cambridgeshire are lower than the rest of England, new figures reveal.

Data from the Department of Health revealed wide regional variations, with London having the highest rate. 

Pregnancy test

Nationally it said the total number of abortions was "fairly constant" at 185,824 in 2015, a rise of 0.7% on the year before. In some areas, almost half of all cases were "repeat" abortions.

The highest rate was among 20 to 24-year-olds, with 53 abortions for every 1,000 women.

Plans for House of Fraser distribution centre in Peterborough

Emma Maclean

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Peterborough could be the new home for a distribution hub for the department store House of Fraser.

Artists impression of new distribution centre
Kinnersley Kent Design

A planning application has been submitted to Peterborough City Council for the 750,000 sq ft (69,677 sq m) site to be built on the edge of the Great Haddon development, situated off the A1(M) near to Peterborough services.  

It's hoped it could create 1,000 jobs. 

Speedway: Louis backs under-fire Hawkins

Brenner Woolley

BBC Radio Suffolk sport

Ipswich Witches director of speedway Chris Louis (pictured) says he's "absolutely 100%" behind team manager Ritchie Hawkins, despite a run of three successive Premier League defeats.

Chris Louis
Stephen Waller

The Suffolk side will be aiming for their first points of the season tonight when reigning champions Edinburgh come to Foxhall Stadium.

"I see a speedway team as eight guys on race night, that's the seven riders and a team manager. Our best guy out of that eight at the moment is our team manager. He's done phenomenally well in keeping himself together."

Police swiftly catch robber

A man has been charged with robbery after attacking a man in his 70s and stealing his van. 

View more on twitter

Tenant being billed for her neighbours' energy supply

Philippa Taylor

BBC Local Live

A housing association tenant in north Norfolk who's getting all her neighbours' energy bills says she's worried it's going to affect her credit rating.

Shelley Hewitt lives in one of 11 flats in an old school house in the town. But for some reason, hers is the only name Scottish Power has listed, so she gets not just her own bill, but also all the demands for her neighbours.

She says it's been going on for more than a year: "Now I'm getting these final demands I'm worried that it's going to affect my credit rating... I don't want to be blacklisted on my credit because of their incompetence."

Scottish Power has apologised for the time it's taking to resolve the problem, saying it will compensate those involved.

Police appeal over stolen sheep

Cat 'burned by boiling water' returns home

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

A missing cat returned to its home in Alconbury, Cambridgeshire, with several burn marks, thought to be from boiling water being poured over him.


An investigation was launched by the RSPCA after Jet (pictured) was found hurt.

The animal charity says a similar incident happened to another cat in the same road a year ago, and it's worried someone is targeting cats deliberately. 

Injuries on Jet the cat

Jet is now recovering at home. 

King's Lynn Stars finally return to action

Chris Goreham

BBC Radio Norfolk sport

King's Lynn Stars will ride in speedway's Elite League for the first time for almost four weeks this evening. 

The Stars are due to go to Swindon. Last night's scheduled meeting between the two sides in Norfolk fell victim to the weather. 

Troy Batchelor
Getty Images

Australian rider Troy Batchelor will ride for The Stars for the first time this season after recovering from injury. He was with Swindon last year.

Mum 'ecstatic' now her twins will go to the same school

Philippa Taylor

BBC Local Live

Hayley Duffety, who'd been told her twins would have to attend different schools four miles apart, says she's ecstatic Suffolk County Council has had a rethink and they'll now be together.

Holly and Elliot Duffety
Hayley Duffety

She said: "I'm so, so pleased. I told the twins straight away and there was lots of laughing and smiling and 'yes, we're going to wear the same uniform'."

Men charged after man stabbed in Peterborough

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Three men have been charged after a man was seriously hurt in a stabbing on Lincoln Road in Peterborough yesterday morning. 

Two Peterborough men in their 20s have been charged with wounding with intent and violent disorder.

A 21-year-old man from Corby, Northamptonshire, has also been charged with possession of a weapon in a public place. 

Two other men have been bailed until 15th June, while a 45-year-old man from Wisbech has been released with no further action. 

Police cordon remains in place in severed head investigation

Sam Edwards

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

A police cordon remains in place at a quarry in Mepal in Cambridgeshire, three days after the discovery of a human head.

Investigations are also continuing at a construction site in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, where it is believed the head came from.

Mepal site

A post-mortem examination yesterday threw up no further evidence.

Police say nothing further has been found and no more updates on the investigation are expected today.

Information struggle over devolution

Andrew Sinclair

BBC Look East political correspondent

This was the first chance for the public to debate devolution and one thing was very clear - they feel they're being kept in the dark. 

From the audience in the room, to those listening on radio or following the debate on social media, there was a common complaint - why are these changes being proposed, and why aren't we being consulted?

That's because up until now the talks about transferring powers from Whitehall to East Anglia have been complicated and theoretical. 

Exactly what powers will be transferred, will they go to one big authority or two smaller authorities, how will the money be divided up, what will it mean for people in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire? It's all still largely unknown.

Weather: Bright and sunny spells

Elizabeth Rizzini

BBC Look East weather

Today is likely to be a warmer day than yesterday with bright spells.

The bulk of the day is staying dry. A few spots of rain in the west later in the day, but the east will be staying dry until after dark.

Highs of 19C (66F). 

Post debate reaction: NFU

Andrew Woodger

BBC News

Stephen Rash, a representative from the Suffolk branch of farmers' union NFU, said: "Cambridge has a lot of biotech industries, but their attitude seems conceited and they're not interested in Norfolk or Suffolk.

"The key issues are transport, housing and education, and I don't think we need a new mayor or combined authority to look at them."

Stephen Rash

Post debate reaction: Railfuture

Andrew Woodger

BBC News

Peter Wakefield of Railfuture, which campaigns for better railways, said: "Three counties is too small as rail and roads are part of a wider network.

"We need a separate statutory body with its own budget and powers, similar to Transport to London, which would also cover Herts, Essex, Beds, Bucks and Oxfordshire."

Peter Wakefield

Post debate reaction: Cambridge estate agent

Andrew Woodger

BBC News

David Henry, of Savills estate agents in Cambridge, said a lack of housing and space for businesses was an issue.

"If a new combined authority has executive powers to work across existing council borders, that would be a good thing for housing and planning, because the existing set-up of county and district councils is too slow," he said.

David Henry

Devolution: What could happen next?

We've heard the story so far, but what is due to happen in the next few months?

Here's a timetable of what the future could hold:

  • 27 May: Councils have to reach provisional agreement on devolution among themselves, after which there'll be public consultation. Councils will vote on it before it's passed to the government
  • End of June: Deadline for proposals to be delivered to the government
  • July: If councils reach an agreement to have a devolved authority (or authorities), the government will start legislation to enable a mayor (or mayors) to be created
  • November: Government will give the final go-ahead to the plans
  • May 2017: Election to be held for a regional mayor (or mayors)

Defining the borders of East Anglia

Laurence Cawley

BBC News

We've just hosted a big East Anglia devolution debate on BBC Radio Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, discussing the government's plans to give extra powers to the region.

But where exactly is East Anglia? Big Brother's Jane Goody infamously didn't know where "East Angular" was, but she's not alone in being unable to define where it is.

East Anglia

The Anglo-Saxon kingdom covered Norfolk, Suffolk and part of what is now Cambridgeshire, while the BBC's Eastern region includes Essex and extends as far west as Northampton and Milton Keynes.

Many other organisations, such as the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service, have differing interpretations. 

Prospective candidate for East Anglian mayor gives us his thoughts

Andrew Woodger

BBC News

One audience member at the devolution debate was Ely businessman Peter Dawes, who has put himself forward to become an East Anglian mayor - if one comes to fruition.

He's a UKIP member, but said he would stand as an independent.

Peter Dawes

He said: "Quite often the failure to deliver housing, such as at Longstanton near Cambridge, is down to council boundaries.

"The key thing about a merger is they can make a decision for the whole area."

Rural issues raised during debate

Robert Sheasby, who represents farmers' union NFU in the East, told the debate agriculture was a billion pound industry in the region.

"We have to find places for food to be produced and for people to live." 

"There are a lot of questions that need answering in this deal, to make sure we get the balance right." 

Devolution debate wrapped-up

The live devolution debate on BBC Local Radio has now finished, but stay with us while we bring you more comments and reaction, plus the rest of the day's news for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. 

You can listen again to the debate on the BBC iPlayer from about 1pm.

Summing-up from panel members

As the devolution debate draws to a close, the panel is asked for their closing thoughts:

  • Andy Wood: "We haven't communicated well enough. I want us to start communicating about this, it's a vital issue, it’s a massive decision for us all"
  • Patrick O'Flynn: "I don't think there's any chance a provisional agreement will be reached by Friday week"
  • Colin Noble: "People need information, there'll be public consultation. It's a journey about how we come together and solve some of the very difficult problems in the region"
  • David Cleevely: "It comes back to the point of connectivity, if we have enough. Do I agree about the three county thing? I'm in favour of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, not all three"
  • Lucy Nethsingha: "There's a real need for councils to work together. I would be happy to see Cambridgeshire County Council abolished and power to be devolved to local people"
Devolution debate panel

Communication about devolution 'poor', says Adnams CEO

Homes must be at the 'right price' for local people

Claire Astbury from the East of England Housing Federation says the devolution deal could meant better collaboration and an overall vision when it comes to house building. 

"Getting the right mixture right is important as you need to build homes for people on medium and low incomes," she said.

"It's all about getting the right homes in the right place at the right price." 

Fast-rising house prices discussed

Devolution debate discusses housing

Devolution could mean 69,000 new homes are built in the three counties by 2021 - and there will be a fund of £175m to make it happen. 

House building

Kevin Price, from Cambridge City Council, says he doesn't think devolution is the answer. 

He says the main problem in Cambridge is "affordability".

With a lack of housing at low rents in the area he feels it could form a kind of "social cleansing", with people who can't afford to live in Cambridge moving out to cheaper areas.