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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Three ice cream vans set on fire in Luton

Three ice cream vans were set on fire in Luton this morning.

The incidents happened between 02:34 and 02:41, with vans in Wilsden Avenue, Connought Road and Thornhill Road being set alight.

Det Con Cathie Layton said: "Thankfully nobody was hurt as a result of the fires, but this could have been a lot worse as the vans were all parked near houses."

Dance festival comes to Ipswich

The national youth dance festival organisation One Dance UK has joined forces with Dance East in Ipswich to bring the event to the East of England for the first time ever.

Dance East
Dance East

The festival, which runs until Sunday, will showcase youth dance work from across the country.

Twelve dance groups have been selected from more than 290 entrants nationwide through a series of 20 regional heats.

Brendan Keaney, chief executive of Dance East, said the festival will "offer the opportunity for young dancers to celebrate their achievements together through a festival full of passion, energy and ambition".

Police ask for drug-users' help in murder inquiry

Essex Police is appealing to drug-users or dealers in Chelmsford to help with the investigation into the murder of Lee Evans.

Mr Evans, 47, was stabbed in Cromar Way in the city just before 01:00 on 22 June and died shortly after.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs, while a 15-year-old boy has been released on police bail.

Detectives would like to hear from anyone with involved in drugs generally and specifically from anyone who bought drugs in the Central Park area in the early hours of 22 June.

A police officer at the crime scene
BBC

'He Can, We Can' hopes to raise boys' aspirations

  • "Some would rather have a job and get money quicker"
  • "People don't take you seriously and start taking the mick".
  • "Fees, money, costs - it's nine grand a year".

Just three reasons Norfolk teenagers gave to BBC Look East when asked why so few of their peers go to university.

According to government figures, only 14% of white, working class boys (the worst performing social group in British schools at the age of 16) choose further education.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) hopes to change that with a new outreach scheme called He Can, We Can, aimed at ensuring pupils are aware of their options, both in further education and the world of work.

"We want students to see all the opportunities available to them. If we can give them all the information they need, they can make the right decision," said Charlotte Wheatland of the UEA.

Boys at UEA
BBC
School pupils visited the UEA to get a taste of university life

Scotland comes to Corby with town's 50th Highland Gathering

Final preparations are being made for Corby's Highland Gathering - the 50th since it began.

The weekend-long event features Scottish dancing, pipe bands and competitions - including the All England Highland Dancing Championship and the world haggis eating competition.

The town's steel industry first attracted large numbers of Scottish workers in the 1930s and it has been estimated about 70% of the population claimed Scottish heritage by the mid-1970s.

The Highland Gathering takes place at the Charter Field, Corby Old Village.

Scottish pipe band at the Corby Highland Gathering
Corby Highland Gathering

'Lack of openness' at Northants County Council shared service

Daventry Express

The issues within shared service organisation LGSS have been highlighted at a meeting of all partner councils.

The 'real' Boaty McBoatface launches on Saturday

The British Antarctic Survey's new polar research ship - the RRS Sir David Attenborough - will be officially launched into the River Mersey from the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead on Saturday morning.

This is the ship that members of the public voted to call "Boaty McBoatface" in an online poll, before ministers stepped in to choose a "more appropriate" name.

RRS Sir David Attenborough
Cammell Laird/BAS/A.Jeffries

From 2019 onwards scientists researching oceans, ice and atmosphere will have access to state-of-the-art facilities on this floating multidisciplinary research platform, operated by the Cambridge-based BAS.

It will have a crew of about 30 and accommodation for up to 60 scientists and support staff.

Sir David Attenborough is expected to press the button to launch his namesake and the BBC will be covering the launch, which is being streamed live by the BAS.

Teenager arrested after sex attack in Lowestoft

A teenage boy has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in Lowestoft.

A female was sexually assaulted shortly before 11:50 on 28 June when an unknown male entered a property near Yarmouth Road. When disturbed, he left.

Officers arrested a 15-year-old boy from Lowestoft on suspicion of sexual assault yesterday.

The boy was later released on bail until 8 August.

Bravery award for officer who tackled swords-wielding man

A lone police officer who had a "heart-stopping" encounter with a man wielding two swords at a remote farmhouse in Norfolk has been given a regional bravery award.

PC Frances Peters, a dog handler with Norfolk Police, was sent to a house late at night after a man claimed he was going to kill his wife.

The suspect was talking to himself in the dimly-lit kitchen and ignoring PC Peters when he suddenly grabbed a samurai sword and a Katana sword.

As he approached her, the officer realised "in a heart-stopping moment" that her dog was not with her and her colleagues were yet to arrive.

At its annual awards ceremony last night, the Police Federation recognised PC Peters for the way she took control of the "very dangerous situation" by restraining the man and handcuffing him until other officers arrived, and her deputy chief constable agreed...

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Pregnant woman punched in stomach in Milton Keynes

A heavily pregnant woman was punched in the stomach in Milton Keynes on Monday.

The woman was walking with a man towards the shops on Farthing Grove, Netherfield, at about 16:40 when they were approached by the offender who accused the man of being racist.

Farthing Grove, Netherfield
Google

When the man replied he had not said anything, the offender threw a bottle of water over the man and then punched the woman in the stomach.

The woman went to Milton Keynes University Hospital and was discharged later that day.

Thames Valley Police is appealing for information and described the suspect as a black man, in his late 20s or early 30s, with a black beard, about 5ft 6in tall and of average build.

Man arrested after '50-minute' police chase

A 20-year-old man has been arrested after a police pursuit in Colchester.

Officers were alerted to a Volkswagen Passat in Cowdray Avenue which was speeding and had false number plates shortly after midnight this morning.

The car continued to break the speed limit and was pursued by police.

The man was detained in Eastwood Drive just after 00:50 and remains in custody on suspicion of dangerous driving, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of an offensive weapon, failing to stop for a police officer, driving under the influence of drugs, driving without a license and driving without insurance.

Essex Police is appealing for anyone who may have seen the vehicle driving between 00:00 and 00:50 to make contact.

Squash club forced to shut due to Trump visit

It is not just protesters who have been upset by Donald Trump's UK visit.

Essex Junior Squash Club said on its website players have been forced to down rackets and an exhibition match has been moved due to the US President's three-day stay.

The Off the Walls Squash academy uses courts at Colchester Garrison where extra officers drafted in for the visit are understood to be sleeping.

A police chief apologised yesterday for the standard of accommodation for some officers which had attracted criticism on social media.

Squash rackets and ball
BBC

Trump visit: US President and PM meet at Chequers

The Prime Minister has met with the US President Donald Trump at at her country home in Chequers, Buckinghamshire.

Trump arrives at Chequers
Reuters

The US president walked up to shake her hand and told her: "It's nice to see you again."

May and Trump at Chequers
Getty Images

Donald Trump describes his relationship with Theresa May as "very, very strong", adding: "We really have a very good relationship."

May and Trump at Chequers
PA

Theresa May said: "We're going to discuss the real opportunities we've got for a fantastic trade deal when we leave the European Union."

Trump and May at Chequers
Reuters

'Important habitat burnt away' in nature reserve fire

Firefighters spent 48 hours putting out a fire which took hold at a nature reserve near Peterborough earlier this week

The peat blaze took hold in an area measuring 100 sq m at Holme Fen, near Yaxley, on Sunday and was the fourth fire the Cambridgeshire Fire Service has been called on to tackle during the recent hot spell.

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Natural England - which runs the reserve - posted photographs of the damage on Twitter this week, as the fire service also warned of the dangers of blazes in open areas.

Watch commander Will Collins said peat blazes were particularly difficult to put out as the fire burns down several feet into the earth and although it "looks like it's out, it will resurface a few metres away", adding it's usually an "arduous" task to put them out, not least because they are quite a way from the nearest road.

Holme Fen
Natural England
It is not known how the latest fire started

The county's nature reserves have been described as being "like tinder boxes at the moment", but Holme Fen's rangers said they were trying to prevent further damage to the area by keeping everything "as wet as we can".

Opening of new school buildings in Fairfield delayed

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The completion of building work to expand a school will not be ready by the start of the new school year.

The work at Fairfield Park Lower School, near Stotfold, should have been finished by September, but it looks it will be ready just after the October half-term.

During a meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council's children's services overview and scrutiny committee, Conservative councillor Steve Dixon labelled it "completely unacceptable" and "nauseating".

Toby Markham, chief executive officer of home builders Campbell Buchanan Group, which represents Morgan Sindall, which is carrying out the building work, said: "We've been working collaboratively on this - the school [structure] is completed.

"We will pay towards the cost of temporary accommodation at the exisiting school."

Fairfield Park Lower School
Google

Man charged over Southend stabbing

A police officer and vehicle at the scene of the stabbing
BBC

A 20-year-old has been charged with stabbing a teenager in Southend.

The man, of no fixed address, will appear at Southend Magistrates' Court, charged with wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

A 16-year-old boy was stabbed on Central Avenue just before 16:00 on Wednesday and was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

He has since been released and is recovering.

A 34-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and released on police bail until 7 August.

Trump visit: Protesters gather near Chequers

About 150 protesters have gathered in Butler's Cross, a village near Chequers in Buckinghamshire where US President Donald Trump is due to meet Prime Minister Theresa May for talks at 11:00.

Butler's Cross protest
BBC

One US-born protester, who has lived in the UK for 18 years, said: "I am ashamed to have him as our leader and he just keeps making blunder after blunder and people don't seem to be quite shocked enough.

"He will see that the protests are here, [but] he will ignore them and say that they didn't happen."

A British protester said: "It's not really about whether he cares or not, it's about showing everybody else that we can't be doing with him."

Arriving in the UK on Thursday, President Trump said he was "fine" with the protests.

Butler's Cross protest
BBC
Butler's Cross protest
BBC

Firefighters tackle blaze at Thetford Forest

More than 50 firefighters are on the scene of a forest fire on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.

Crews from across the two counties were called to Thetford Forest, close to the A1065 south of Brandon and to the north west of Center Parcs at Elveden, just before 06:00.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue's station commander Trevor Hill said it was "very difficult access" for the crews.

"We've got it under control now, we've stopped any further fire spread, and at the moment we're trying to damp it all down because it's very deep-seated," he said.

Trump visit: Roads around Chequers closed

Thames Valley Police is advising people to avoid the area around Chequers, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire as they prepare for the visit of US President Donald Trump.

Chequers
South Beds News Agency

Officers said Missenden Road is already closed to traffic and vehicle check points in the area are expected to remain in place until the middle of Friday afternoon.

President Trump is due to arrive at Chequers for talks with Theresa May at 11:00 with a press conference scheduled for 13:40. He is due at Windsor Castle in neighbouring Berkshire at 15:30.

Meanwhile, the press are "struggling" through the Buckinghamshire countryside to get to the venue, as the BBC's North America correspondent James Cook tweeted.

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Pot holes repairs in Central Beds 'not good enough'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The way pot holes have been fixed and repaired in Central Bedfordshire, is "not quiet good enough".

That's according to Marcel Coiffait, the council's director of community services, who spoke about the issue at Central Bedfordshire Council's sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee.

"We're trying to use council resources in the most efficient way possible. I would love to fix everything. I would like to have the funding to do it all," he said.

The council has initiated a highways improvement plan to monitor the progress.

"We have nearly hit targets, but it's not quite good enough," Mr Coiffait said.

Pot hole in Dunstable
BBC

Firefighters tackle industrial estate fire

About 70 firefighters have been tackling a building fire in Watford overnight.

The blaze, in a warehouse on the Reeds Estate on Colonial Way, broke out at 23:45.

It was under control by about 04:00, but crews have been dampening down and checking for hotspots since then.

Hertfordshire Fire Service said it was still on site on Friday morning and an investigation is due to start when the site is safe.

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President Trump due in Buckinghamshire

US President Donald Trump will be in Buckinghamshire this morning as he holds talks with Theresa May at Chequers, the Prime Minister's official country residence near Aylesbury.

The talks are due to take place at 11:00 and protestors are planning to demonstrate in the nearby village of Butler's Cross.

Road blocks are already in place in the village at the junction of Missenden Road with Wendover Road and Ellesborough Road.

Trump road block at Butler's Cross
BBC

Police probe alleged Ipswich arson

Police are investigating a suspicious fire at a house in Ipswich in the early hours of Friday morning.

Firefighters were called to Whitland Close, off Stoke Park Drive, just after 03:00.

Suffolk Police said a front door was damaged by fire but no-one was injured.

An investigation is under way.

Fire hoses
BBC

Bucks farm on fire

Firefighters have spent the night tackling a large blaze at a farm near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

Kimblewick fire
Bucks and MK Fire Rescue

Hay storage units, agricultural machinery, vehicles and trees were all on fire.

Kimblewick fire
Bucks and MK Fire

Six fire engines and a water tanker went to the property at Kimblewick in the evening.

Neighbours were advised to keep their windows closed.

Felixstowe extended dogs ban 'rejected'

Felixstowe seafront
Google

Plans to ban dogs from a larger area of the beach at Felixstowe have been rejected.

Existing bylaws prevent dogs on the beach between Arwela Road and the Spa Pavillion Theatre - between 1 May and 30 September.

Proposals were made to extend the area to include the beach between Manor End and Cobbold's Point - but for the ban only to apply between 10:00 and 18:00.

A public consultation by Suffolk Coastal District Council found 60% of those taking part were in favour of keeping things as they are.

There were concerns the changes would mean fewer visitors to Felixstowe during the busy summer season.

Inflatable hire firms urged to meet safety standards

Two Suffolk councils are urging companies who operate or hire inflatable play equipment to make sure they meet British safety standards.

It follows the death of three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy from Somersham near Ipswich, who was thrown from an inflatable trampoline after it burst on Gorleston beach on 1 July.

Gorleston beach
BBC

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils say operators should have wind speed monitors and check anchor points on their equipment.

Councilor Steve Gallant, who is responsible for community health at Suffolk Coastal, said: "Anchor points are crucial but we know what the ground's like at the moment - if you can't do it, don't use it.

"It's better to have disappointed children than injured children."

Police appeal for drug-dealing information after murder

Officers investigating the murder of Dwayne Forrester in south Essex are asking for anyone with information about the sale of drugs in Pitsea to come forward.

The 21-year-old was found stabbed in Little Garth on Saturday and Essex Police is putting out the appeal in a bid "to find out more about the issue in Little Garth and the surrounding areas".

“We need to speak to anyone who has witnessed the sale of drugs, has descriptions of people or vehicles involved, or anyone who might have photos or CCTV showing it take place," said Det Ch Insp Daniel Stoten.

"Telling us what you know doesn't make you a 'grass'. It's the responsible thing to do and could help give a grieving family answers about what happened to their loved one."

Dwayne Forrester
Essex Police

Norfolk PCC fire service plans go to consultation

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Plans for the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to take on the responsibilities for overseeing the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service have gone out for public consultation.

Lorne Green
BBC

PCC Lorne Green said the proposals would still see the fire service retain its operational and financial independence.

Mr Green said: "People say that duplication of time, effort and resources makes no sense at all – and I agree."

The PCC argues that under a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner there would be joint working between fire service and police and efficiency savings of £10m over 10 years.

Man bailed over stabbing

A 34-year-old man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in Southend has been released on bail until 7 August.

He was taken into custody following the stabbing of a 16-year-old boy in Central Avenue yesterday.

A 20-year-old man remains under arrest.

Aylesbury stabbing: Man detained under Mental Health Act

A 32-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of a woman in Aylesbury, has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Lorna Myers, 54, died in Wood White Drive at about 15:45 on Saturday.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be a stab wound to the chest.

A 14-year-old boy was also injured in the attack and he remains in hospital.

Thames Valley Police is appealing for anyone with information to contact them.

Wood White Drive
South Beds News Agency

Consultation starts on Bedford walk-in centre closure

A consultation has started about the possible closure of the NHS Bedford Walk-in Centre.

The Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning group (CCG) wants to hear from people until 19 August, about proposed changes to the centre which offers treatment for minor injuries and illnesses.

The centre, which is part of the Putnoe Medical Centre, was due to close in March, but the closure date was extended to 30 September, and will now offer reduced hours services until 24 May 2019.

The CCG said because an Urgent Treatment Centre is opening at the Bedford Hospital South Wing site on 1 October, it will "propose to close the centre and move walk-in services" to the hospital site.

A spokeswoman said: "We are undertaking an extensive short consultation before the changes occur, to speak to those patients who will be most affected by the change and to explore how we might support them."

Putnoe Medical Centre
Philip Jeffrey/Geograph

Norwich Britvic workers take fight to Wimbledon

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Britvic workers from Norwich have headed to Wimbledon to call on the company to listen to them.

Robinsons bottles
BBC

Members of the GMB union are on strike pressing for improved redundancy packages after the soft drinks company, which produces Robinsons which traditionally sponsors the tennis championship, announced it would be closing its factory next year.

Ivan Mercer, regional organiser for the GMB, said: "Wimbledon is synonymous with Robinsons and other than the Robinsons factory in Norwich this is the home of Robinsons.

"They [Britvic] are completely ignoring our requests to talk or improve their redundancy package."

Britvic said it had already offered enhanced redundancy terms.

'One of our dinosaurs is maize-ing'

A giant dinosaur has been spotted in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

One of the greatest carnivores - though not the largest - ever to have walked the Earth, Tyrannosaurus Rex ruled North America during the late Cretaceous period, some 68-65 million years ago, and although thought to be extinct, he's been spotted in a field.

Dinosaur maze
Terry-Harris.com
People enter the maze through the dinosaur's mouth and exit - if they are lucky - through its tail

Actually, this amazing creature is made of maize - or rather, carved out of a field in the form of a maize maze.

At more than 150m (520ft) tall, this T-Rex is taking centre stage in a 12-acre field at the Skylark Garden Centre at Wimblington near March.

Fire crews appeal after fly-tipping set on fire

Fire crews in Cambridgeshire are warning of the dangers of fly-tipping after tackling a deliberate blaze near Peterborough.

They tweeted images of a fire they had to tackle after arsonists set light to a pile of dumped waste on Wednesday.

Earlier this week the service spoke out about the dangers of fires in the open during the current hot spell, and once again were faced with tackling this blaze before it spread to too much of the surrounding dry vegetation.

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Norfolk Police officer nominated for bravery award

Nic Rigby

BBC News

A Norfolk Police officer has been nominated for a Police Bravery Award after fending off a samurai sword attacker.

PC Frances Peters
Norfolk Police

PC Frances Peters was the first officer on the scene, which isn't being identified, after police received a late night call from a man claiming he was going to kill his wife.

PC Peters found the man in a remote farmhouse. She tried to talk to him, but he did not acknowledge her presence and turned away.

When he came at her with a sword PC Peters used her incapacitating spray and then restrained her attacker and handcuff him until the other officers arrived.

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, which was one of the awards organisers, said: "PC Peters showed real bravery in horrifying circumstances."

Waste collectors find more than 150 mattresses dumped

More than 160 fly-tipped mattresses, dumped around Northampton, have been cleared by waste collectors in the past month.

That's according to Conservative-run Northampton Borough Council which also revealed that more than 10,000 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping have been issued so far this year.

The new company in charge of waste collection in the town, Veolia, have been in post for just over a month.

Waste dumped in Northampton
Enam Haque

In the weeks before, people in Northampton complained on Twitter about full dog-waste bins, rubbish-strewn parks and grass verges going uncut for months.

Councillor Mike Hallam, Conservative cabinet member for environment, said: "We are on track to where we want to be which is starting to see the signs of improvement and getting over issues from the last contractor."

This is why Waterbeach smells so bad

Cambridge News

A recycling centre in Cambridgeshire has vowed to stop composting if the smell from their site gets too strong during the heatwave - with an "odour monitoring officer" checking the smell.