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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Hawkins of Hitchin closes after 155 years

The Comet

A department store that was an institution of Hitchin life for a century and a half has closed its doors for the last time.

Candice Brown first to leave Dancing on Ice

Bedfordshire's Candice Brown has become the first celebrity to leave ITV's Dancing On Ice.

The former winner of the Great British Bake Off lost a skate-off against singer Lemar in Sunday night's show.

"I did my best. I couldn't have done any more," she said.

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Brown and her partner Matt Evers received the fewest votes in last week's show, so had to compete against the lowest placed competitors in this week's programme - Lemar and his partner Melody Le Moal.

After both pairs skated again, Jason Gardiner and Ashley Banjo chose to save Brown, with Gardiner saying her routine was "cleaner" and Banjo noting that it was "executed much better" than Lemar's.

Ice dancing star Jayne Torvill opted for Lemar, who she said had more difficulty in his routine. As this week's head judge, Christopher Dean cast the deciding vote and chose to save Lemar.

Carillion collapse raises job fears

The construction giant Carillion has gone into liquidation this morning.

The company is a contractor for the planned HS2 railway line through Buckinghamshire, the East West line and the electrification of the Midland Mainline north of Bedford.

Carillion crane
Getty Images

The firm - which employs 20,000 people in the UK - has debts of £1.5bn.

The Cabinet Office minister and MP for Aylesbury, David Lidington, said the government will do all it can to protect the company's workers.

"The first priority, and the one that I've asked all ministers and all officials to concentrate on is actually ensuring that public services continue," he said.

"So the message to workers is come into work today, there's important work to be done.

"As we go forward, some services will be taken in-house [and] some services will go out to alternative contractors in a manged, orderly fashion."

Chairboys 'saddened' to hear of Regis death

Bucks

Wycombe Wanderers has reacted to the news that the club's former player Cyrille Regis has died.

The club said it was "saddened" to hear the news of the player who had been a "legend" in his short time at the club, scoring 10 times in 35 games during 1994-95.

They have also published an excerpt from a programme article written by Alan Parry in 2008, telling the tale of how Regis arrived at Adams Park.

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Giving blood at a fire station

A Bedfordshire firefighter who needed 63 pints of blood after being involved in a serious road accident, has helped inspire a fire station to become a blood donor venue.

The building in Dunstable has become the 28th fire station in the country to host the sessions for the NHS Blood & Transplant service.

Jason Hollamby, a former firefighter, lost his leg after the accident and needed specialist treatment.

Blood donor session at Dunstable Fire Station
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

He said: "Having worked for the fire service for 29 years, and seen a number of road collisions I didn’t think I would make it out alive.

"I owe my life to the loyal blood donors whose generosity ensured that blood was available in the air ambulance and during surgery."

Former striker Cyrille Regis dies, aged 59

BBC Sport

Former Wycombe Wanderers player, Cyrille Regis, has died aged 59.

Regis is best known for playing at West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1987, but he played 35 times for The Chairboys towards the end of his career.

Cyrille Regis
Getty Images

Police car 'smashed with metal bollard'

A metal bollard has been smashed into a police car.

Bedfordshire Police said it was attending a "dispute" on Dunstable High Street when the attack took place.

A spokesperson said police were called at about 14:10 and, after taking a statement, "came back to the police vehicle and discovered the rear window of the car had been smashed with a metal bollard".

People on social media have described the damage as "disgusting", "so disrespectful" and "idiotic".

It was not thought the two incidents were connected, said police.

Damaged police car
Andrea Weir

Mum of girl with cerebral palsy fundraising for surgery

Northampton Chronicle & Echo

A four-year-old girl from Northampton, with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, is in need of £100,000 for a life- changing spinal operation in the USA, which will give her the chance to walk.

Talks to take place over Luton school pay row

Talks are to continue between a teachers' union and a Luton school to resolve a row over pay.

Keith Anderson from the NASUWT said it was "hopeful of a resolution through conciliation."

He confirmed that talks were to continue between the Chiltern Trust, which runs Challney High School for Girls, and the union, through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

The union took six days of strike action in November, in pursuit of a 2% pay rise, but the school said staff would get a 1% rise in line with national pay deals.

Teachers on strike
BBC
Teachers took strike action in November

A spokesperson from the Chiltern Learning Trust said: "Further strike action has been suspended and we have entered into further dialogue with the union about the matter.

"We hope to achieve a positive outcome for our community."

Elderly woman's roadside death 'unexplained'

Northamptonshire Police has said it no longer believes an elderly woman who died in Barton Seagrave, near Kettering, was hit by a car, but her death remains "unexplained".

She was pronounced dead after officers were called to reports of an injured woman on the pavement in Barton Road at 05:00 today.

A police spokesman said her death was not being treated as suspicious but it had been established she had not been involved in a road traffic collision.

The area was closed to traffic for several hours while investigations were carried out.

Knife amnesty after stabbing murder

A knife amnesty will be in force in Cambridgeshire for the next few weeks following the murder of a man who died from a single stab wound to the heart.

James Cromwell
Cambs Police
James Cromwell was a father to a young boy

James Cromwell, 27, was killed by Abdul Korim Ali, 25, (pictured) in Cambridge on 30 June.

Ali, described in court as a "habitual" carrier of knives, has been jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 23 years.

Abdul Korim Ali
Cambs Police

"A single stab wound has ended the life of a young man with his whole future in front of him," Det Insp Alan Page, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said, adding that there was "absolutely no reason to carry a knife".

“I would appeal to anyone who does or is considering carrying a knife to stop and think about what they are doing. The only status it gives in my opinion is one of being a coward and could well lead to the status of convicted murderer," he said.

Hundreds raised for fire-struck hair salon

Wisbech Standard

More than £400 has been raised in just 18 hours for the owner of a March hair salon who “lost her livelihood within a matter of hours” after a fire ripped through the building.

Ap-peel launched for bell-ringers for Armistice centenary

Hunts Post

A team of bell-ringers in Huntingdon is ringing out a special appeal for more members to help mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and to keep the tradition going into the future.

Paradise Wildlife Park's 'beloved' tiger dies

Paradise Wildlife Park has announced that Rocky, its eldest Amur tiger, has died, just weeks from his 20th birthday.

Rocky had not been well for some weeks and after extensive consultations with the zoo's specialist vet, Dr. John Lewis, the decision was made to put him to sleep on Thursday afternoon.

He arrived at the Broxbourne zoo nearly 20 years ago. He was collected from a travelling circus in Ireland at two weeks old after his mother rejected him at birth.

On its Facebook page, the zoo said: "Rocky leaves an amazing and deeply personal legacy at Paradise Wildlife Park which we’re sure will shine for years to come."

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Motorcyclist in hospital with life-threatening injuries

A motorcyclist is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after a crash with a car in Milton Keynes.

The incident involving the black Suzuki motorcycle and a white Toyota Yaris happened on Watling Street at about 16:00 on Tuesday.

Watling Street, Milton Keynes
Google

The rider of the motorcycle, a 22-year-old man, was taken the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. His passenger, an 18-year-old man, was taken to Milton Keynes Hospital where he remains with serious injuries.

Thames Valley Police is appealing for anyone with information to contact it on the non-emergency number 101.

S Club 7's Paul puts his Brit Award on eBay

BBC Newsbeat

S Club 7's Paul Cattermole has listed his 2000 Best Newcomer Brit Award on eBay and it's picking up interest.

Paul Cattermole and his Ebay listing
Ebay/Getty Images

Cattermole, from St Albans, also offered a meet and greet, with photo, depending on how far away the winning bidder lived.

The item is described in "very good" condition but the listing mentions there are "signs of age".

S Club 7 became famous initially for Miami 7, a children's sitcom in which they all moved to America to try and become famous.

Bring It All Back, their first single, was the theme song to the show kickstarted their pop career.

Woman threatened with knife as men break in to home

A woman has has been threatened with a knife after three men broke in to a house in Luton.

Bedfordshire Police said the "distressing experience" happened on Thursday at about 03:00 on Dunstable Road, when four members of a family were in the house.

The raiders demanded money from one of the family.

Dunstable Road
Google

The men were wearing dark clothing.

One man was described as stocky and around 5ft 1in (1.55m); the second, average build at about 5ft 6in (1.67m); and the third, skinny and about 6ft (1.83m).

Town offers to pay for more police

Residents in Shefford have offered to pay more to keep extra patrols following incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway attended a packed public meeting of about 200 Shefford residents last night.

Paul Mackin, the town's mayor, said the meeting "went well".

"Some people at the meeting said 'Can we pay some more?' so we are looking at the options of paying for additional police office in Shefford by raising funds locally. We need to examine how we can do that," he said.

Ms Holloway thanked those who attended.

Meeting in Shefford
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Driving through a Hemel Hempstead puddle could get you a £5k fine

Hemel Hempstead Gazette

If you drive your car through puddles and splash people in Hemel Hempstead, you could be heading for a £5,000 fine.

Widow's murderer still on the loose after five years

Five years after an 86-year-old widow was murdered in her own home, police still have not found her killer.

Una Crown, pictured with her late husband Jack, was found dead at her bungalow in Magazine Lane in Wisbech on 13 January 2013.

She had been stabbed and set on fire.

Una Crown (l) and husband Jack Crown
Cambs Police

Several people have been arrested over the murder of the former postmistress, but no-one has yet been charged, and a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction and appeal failed to produce any leads that could help track the killer.

Cambridgeshire Police says detectives are "continuing to look at new forensic techniques and any intelligence which comes to light" in an attempt to solve the murder.

Protests and legal action planned over at-risk libraries

A campaign group trying to save Oundle Library has arranged a "sit-in" protest at the building this afternoon, inviting people to "peacefully demonstrate" against its possible closure.

A similar event has been organised at Brackley Library, while the Save Desborough Library campaign group has instructed lawyers to consider legal action to keep the facility open.

Northamptonshire County Council announced in October that some libraries could be community-run while some smaller ones could close as part of proposals to make £10m of cuts.

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A council spokesman said: "Due to the authority’s significant funding pressures, we have no option but to consult on a proposed review of the current model for Northamptonshire libraries.

A consultation on the future of the county's libraries runs until tomorrow and a decision will be made on 22 February.

Watford fans mark first anniversary of Graham Taylor's death

Today marks the first anniversary of the death of Graham Taylor, widely regarded by Watford FC fans to be the club's greatest-ever manager

To mark the occasion, fans' group the The 1881 Movement, is planning to turn Vicarage Road into a sea of Watford scarves before Saturday’s match against Southampton.

They want supporters in all stands to hold their Watford scarves aloft as the familiar opening bars of Z Cars play, welcoming the teams on to the pitch.

Group founder Roy Moore said: "Our goal has always been about improving the atmosphere at the Vic and we’re hoping that the chance to pay tribute to our greatest ever manager will bring supporters in all four stands together and create something really special."

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The 1881 Movement was born out of a group of Watford fans coming together in 2013 with the aim of improving vocal support at Vicarage Road.

Council leader quits post

Dotty McLeod

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

The Leader of Fenland District Council has resigned from the post he has held since May 2014.

John Clark told fellow councillors of his decision at a meeting on Thursday night.

He told the BBC his open heart surgery, and two of his colleagues being deselected were factors in the decision.

There will now be a secret ballot of Conservative councillors, who will select a new leader next month.

Herts County Council considers outsourcing libraries

Hertfordshire County Council is seeking the public's views on outsourcing its library services.

Marshalswick Library
Google

The authority said that over the next three years it wanted to improve library buildings and develop technology while maintaining the service it provided, but "ongoing pressure on local government budgets" meant that it must "consider further budget savings across all services".

It said some authorities - Suffolk, Devon, and Nottinghamshire - had had success by commissioning independent, not-for-profit organisations with charitable status to provide library services.

It said the benefits could include "a potential saving in non-domestic rates" and may allow libraries to access funding not be available to the council.

The consultation runs until to 18 February 2018 and the council is expected to make a decision in the spring.

Archaeological study taking place at Panshanger airfield

Welwyn Hatfield Times

Landowners at Welwyn Garden City’s Panshanger airfield are conducting an archaeological survey.

Nottingham station fire disrupts services to St Pancras

A fire at Nottingham station this morning is disrupting trains on the Nottingham/London St Pancras route, which stop at Bedford and Luton.

Nottingham station is closed and all services delivered by East Midlands Trains cannot run in or out of it.

The operator said it did "not have a firm estimate" as to when the station will be able to re-open but it expected trains to be disrupted for the whole of Friday.

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School 'working hard' after inadequate Ofsted rating

Northampton Chronicle & Echo

Leaders say they have already made 'significant changes' at a Northampton primary school since it was rated as 'inadequate' by the education watchdog.

Child protection service launched with £2.8m funding

A new approach to child protection is being tried in Peterborough after the city council secured funding to the tune of £2.8m.

The Family Safeguarding Team will tackle domestic abuse, substance abuse and mental health issues - the main factors that put children at risk of significant harm - working with the whole family, in their home, a council spokesman says.

The service is based on a similar one that was trialled in Hertfordshire, and has proven successful in reducing the number of children coming into care, Sam Smith, cabinet member for children's services at the city council, said.

The money to set up the Peterborough unit was provided by the Department for Education's Innovation Fund.

Cannabis factory found in Swavesey

More than 400 cannabis plants have been found at a building near Swavesey.

They were discovered at the site near the A14, Cambridgeshire Police said.

The plants are estimated to be worth between £121,000 and £365,400.

Cannabis found in Swavesey
Cambs Police

Three men, two aged 28 and a one aged 24, were arrested on suspicion of the production of cannabis and remain in custody.

Cannabis found at Swavesey
Cambridgeshire Police

Dog rescued from Peterborough house fire

A dog had to be rescued after fire ripped through a bungalow.

Two crews tackled the blaze at Village Farm Close in Castor, Peterborough at about 16:45 on Wednesday.

No-one was injured, but crews needed to use breathing apparatus to bring the dog to safety.

The cause of the fire was accidental, a Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said.

Two teens stabbed in Hemel Hempstead town centre

Two teenagers have been stabbed with what's believed to have been a kitchen knife in Hemel Hempstead town centre.

Rainbow monument, Hemel Hempstead
Google

An argument involving youngsters near the Rainbow monument on Marlowes, between 19:45 and 20:00 on 9 January, resulted in two of them being stabbed

The first victim, a 17-year-old boy, suffered several stab wounds to his torso and the second, a 16-year-old boy, suffered a slash wound to his back.

They were taken to hospital for treatment where both are in a stable condition.

Hertfordshire Police said it was believed the offender was known to his victims and left in a taxi.

Appealing for information, Det Sgt Paul Perkins said: "I would like to reassure the community that this type of crime is unusual in Hemel Hempstead, and at this stage we do not believe this was a random attack."

Thousands sign petition against respite break cuts

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition against cuts to a Northamptonshire service which offers short respite breaks for children with disabilities or learning difficulties.

Northamptonshire County Council says it will continue to spend around £2m a year on the council-run service, but it is planning to stop a recent £1m overspend which happened when the Nene & Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) withdrew some funding.

The petition was set up by Labour's Sally Keeble, who was the MP for Northampton North between 1997 and 2010.

"With that money being removed by the CCGs, there has got to be some loss somewhere," said Paul Meadows from the Northants Parents Forum Group, which represents families where children have disabilities or special education needs.

"We don't know how this is going to end up, or what it's going to mean."

Piles of rubbish left because of 'unsafe bins'

Peterborough Telegraph

The large amount of waste is festering in Townsend Close in Millfield, off Lincoln Road, after the company contracted to collect refuse in Peterborough said a mechanical fault with the bins on site made them unsafe for their staff to use.

Controversial Herts radio host apologises

Hertfordshire Mercury

Bob FM host Graham Mack has been forced to apologise for saying Theresa May "has no balls" during a live radio broadcast after the station received a "serious complaint".