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  1. Updates for Friday, 22 December 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Marcus Antonsson misses a penalty as Blackburn have to settle for a draw against struggling Northampton at Sixfields.

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Exeter celebrate Will Chudley's try

Brent Pilnick

BBC Sport

Champions Exeter run in four tries as they win at Northampton for just the second time in the Premiership.

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Sam Northeast has left Kent for Hampshire

With the 2018 county season in full swing, keep up to date with the latest signings, departures and rumours.

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M40 delays 'until later this evening'

Burnt out lorry
The lorry was carrying bottles of Corona and Stella Artois beer

Highways England says long delays are expected to continue until later this evening, after a lorry-load of beer caught fire.

Two out of three lanes are still closed southbound between Cherwell Valley Services and Bicester.

Traffic is queuing for about four miles to get past the burnt-out lorry.

Queues of more than 11 miles on M40

Burnt out lorry
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue
The lorry was carrying bottles of beer

Traffic is queuing back to Banbury after a lorry-load of beer caught fire on the M40.

It happened between Cherwell Valley Services (junction 10) and Bicester (junction 9).

One lane reopened southbound at about 12:40 (GMT).

Sixfields Stadium and Northampton Town FC crest

Julian Sturdy

BBC Look East

Police interviews involve £10.25m loan to Northampton Town FC

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Lane reopens following M40 fire

Eddie Stobart lorry on fire
Matt Taylor
The lorry caught fire on the M40 southbound between junction 10 and junction 9

One lane has reopened on the M40 southbound following a lorry fire.

It happened between Cherwell Valley Services and Bicester in Oxfordshire.

On Twitter, Helen Smith said "Driver out but bad vehicle fire on M40. Bottles of Stella exploding! Very scary stuff.

BreakingLorry fire blocks M40

A lorry fire has blocked the M40 southbound between Bracknell and Bicester.

Eddie Stobart lorry on fire
Matt Taylor
The M40 is blocked between junction 10 and junction 9
View more on twitter

Severe disruption: M1 Northamptonshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Northamptonshire northbound severe disruption, between J16 for A45 and J17 for M45 Dunchurch.

M1 Northamptonshire - One lane closed on M1 northbound between J16, A45 (Daventry) and J17, M45 (Dunchurch), because of emergency repairs. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe accident: M1 Northamptonshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Northamptonshire southbound severe accident, between J15 for A45 and J14 for A509.

M1 Northamptonshire - Two lanes blocked and queuing traffic on M1 southbound between J15, A45 (Northampton) and J14, A509 (Milton Keynes), because of an accident involving lorry and cars.

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

Christmas with a difference for Northampton police officer

It could be a working Christmas with a difference for a Northamptonshire Police officer.

Det Supt Simon Blatchly has been seconded from the county force as the United Nations Police Commissioner in the West African state of Liberia.

A presidential election is in progress there, with a second round of voting likely to take place on Boxing Day.

"It is strange seeing Christmas trees in temperatures around 30C," he told BBC Radio Northampton.

"It [Christmas] is an important festival here. People try and meet with their families, which will have an impact on the voting because people won't be in the areas where they would [normally be] to vote."

Simon Blatchly
@Pol_Comm_UNMIL / Twitter

Borough council budget moots parking charge increase

Craig Lewis

BBC Northampton Politics Reporter

Northampton Borough Council's cabinet has met to discuss plans for next year's budget.

The budget-setting proposal at the borough council comes against a backdrop of a funding gap of more than £11m over the next five years.

The deficit is the result of years of reductions in government funding.

Plans to address this included proposals to increase car parking fees in Northampton by £1 per day along with the introduction of an additional £2 charge at the weekend.

A council tax increase of more than two per cent was also discussed.

Northampton Guildhall

Severe accident: A4501 Northamptonshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A4501 Northamptonshire both ways severe accident, between Billing Road and A428 Bedford Road affecting A428 Bedford Road.

A4501 Northamptonshire - A4501 Cliftonville Road in Northampton closed and queuing traffic in both directions between the Billing Road junction and the A428 Bedford Road junction, because of a multi-vehicle accident. Congestion on A45 Nene Valley Way to Barnes Meadow Interchange and on A428 Bedford Road to the A5123 Cheyne Walk junction.

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

Severe accident: M1 Northamptonshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M1 Northamptonshire northbound severe accident, between J16 for A45 and J17 for M45 Dunchurch.

M1 Northamptonshire - Two lanes closed and heavy traffic on M1 northbound between J16, A45 (Daventry) and J17, M45 (Dunchurch), because of an accident involving car.

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

Scene of crash involving fire engine and pedestrian

This is the scene on Towcester Road in Northampton, after a pedestrian was hit and left seriously injured by a fire engine on its way to an emergency.

The pedestrian was taken to hospital for treatment after the incident at 19:20. The road remained closed for several hours but has since reopened.

Towcester Road, Northampton
Towcester Road, Northampton

Arthur Street murder: Serious case review into boy's death

Arthur Street, Northampton

The Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board said there would be a serious case review in relation to the death of a two-year-old boy in Northampton last Friday.

Emergency services were called to a property in Arthur Street where the child was found unresponsive.

A 30-year-old man has been charged with murder and remains in custody ahead of a plea and case management hearing early next year.

Northamptonshire Police has also referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Dylan Hartley: Northampton Saints captain frustrated by criticism from ‘outside people’
In a candid interview with BBC Look East, Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley says it is easy to “fire shots from the outside” about their struggles.

Severe disruption: M40 Warwickshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M40 Warwickshire southbound severe disruption, between J12 for B4451 and J11 for A361.

M40 Warwickshire - One lane closed on M40 southbound between J12, B4451 (Gaydon) and J11, A361 (Banbury), because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Stolen guide dog reunited with owner

Guide dog with police officers and PCSO
Northamptonshire Police

A neighbourhood PCSO using an off-road police motorbike has recovered a guide dog that had been stolen from an 83-year-old woman in Northampton.

Chandler, the black Labrador, was being exercised by his owner at about 10:30 this morning in the Rectory Farm pocket park.

Two men approached the partially-sighted owner and took her dog. Northampton's Neighbourhood Policing Team were called and the PCSO quickly located Chandler in Ecton Brook and returned him to his owner.

The men who took the animal were described as dark skinned, about 20 years old, with one wearing a grey hooded top. Officers are asking for anyone with information to contact them.

Lewis McGugan

Northampton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says Lewis McGugan is "coming out of hibernation" after 17 months out of action.

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Northampton toddler killing: Murder accused remanded in custody

Arthr Street, Northampton

A 30-year-old man charged with the murder of a two-year-old-boy in Northampton has been remanded in custody following a hearing at Leicester Crown Court.

Raphael Kennedy was arrested last Friday after a child was found unresponsive at a property on Arthur Street.

A provisional post-mortem examination found the boy died from a blunt trauma to his abdomen, causing internal injuries.

Mr Kennedy is due back in court again on 23 January.

Corby police station closes, replaced by new desk at Corby Cube

Corby police station has shut down, but has been replaced by a police desk situated at Corby Cube.

From today the new desk will be used by people to report crime, produce driving documents and make enquiries. The county's force says it is more modern and welcoming.

Corby Cube

"There's no doubt the footfall within front offices has dropped significantly," said Insp Julie Mead from Northamptonshire Police.

"But we are hoping that people will see us here and use this as an opportunity to speak to the police."

The Cube - which is also home to Corby Borough Council and a theatre - is about half a mile from the now closed police station on Elizabeth Street.

George North

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips has revealed all four regions have expressed an interest in signing George North.

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Shops 'will switch' if Booker raises prices

Tesco logo; Booker logo
Getty Images

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it also examined whether Tesco's £3.7bn takeover of Booker "could raise prices or reduce service quality at either the wholesale or retail levels".

It concluded "that existing strong competition in wholesale and retail made this unlikely".

The CMA said that of the hundreds of retailers it surveyed during its investigation into the deal, "most shops use more than one wholesaler and frequently switch".

They added: "In addition, almost half of symbol group retailers surveyed and more than a third of independent retailers said that if Booker were to raise prices after the merger with Tesco, they might stop buying from Booker altogether."

Watchdog clears Tesco-Booker deal

Booker in Wellingborough

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Hertfordshire-based Tesco's takeover of Northamptonshire wholesaler Booker.

The CMA says: "Tesco, as a retailer, and Booker, as a wholesaler, do not compete head-to-head in most of their activities."

Booker supplies shops operating under the Premier, Londis and Budgens brands.

But the CMA added: "Booker does not own the shops it supplies and these retailers are free to set their prices and decide which products to stock. So, although these shops compete with Tesco, Booker cannot directly determine how they compete."

Being homeless with a newborn baby was 'really hard'
A new mum has spoken about the difficulties of looking after her baby without a home.
Ben Duckett

Ben Duckett will miss the 2018 England Lions tour to West Indies after pouring a drink over James Anderson.

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Uninsured driver applied for insurance from squad car

A motorist suspected of driving without insurance took out a policy in the back of a police car after she was pulled over by officers in Northampton.

Special Insp Anthony Rawson tweeted. "That policy was taken out at 08:25. She has been in our car since 08:00... 10/10 for effort."

The car was seized and driver reported for driving without insurance for the second time in four weeks.

Picture showing uninsured vehicle in Northampton
@SInspRawson / Twitter

Severe accident: A5128 Northamptonshire southbound

BBC News Travel

A5128 Northamptonshire southbound severe accident, between Stanwell Way and A509 Park Farm Way.

A5128 Northamptonshire - A5128 Northampton Road in Wellingborough blocked and queuing traffic southbound between the Stanwell Way junction and the A509 Park Farm Way junction, because of an accident.

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

Council tax bills to rise by as much as £100

Andrew Sinclair

BBC Look East political correspondent

The government has given local councils and police permission to increase council tax next year by as much as 6%.

We are still waiting for the details to come through, and councils and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will have to make the final decision, but it is very possible that many people in the region will be paying an extra £100 next year.

Local government secretary Sajid Javid told MPs he'd allow councils to increase council tax by an extra 1% next year without the need to hold a referendum.

He also said PCCs would be able to charge an extra £12 a year for policing. At the moment they can only increase bills by 2%, which is about £4 a year.

Many of our councils and local police forces have complained about funding pressures and called for the flexibility to increase council tax.

Now the government has given them permission to do so, although Mr Javid warned them "voters will be watching to make sure this new freedom is not abused".

Man charged with attempted murder over stabbing

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

A 41-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder, possession of a knife and a drugs offence in connection with a stabbing in Rushden on Friday night.

Police were called to Hove Road at 21:30 where a 36-year-old man was found with stab wounds.

He was taken to hospital with life threatening injuries but police said he was now in a serious but stable condition.

Driver dies after crashing with three other vehicles

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

An 82-year-old man has died following a road crash in Northampton last Thursday.

The man was driving a Ford S-Max along the A428 Harlestone Road towards Harlestone, near the Wyevale Garden Centre and Harlestone Firs, at 16:40 when it crossed into the opposite carriageway.

Harleston Heath

It collided with three other vehicles before leaving the road and continuing through the hedgerow, coming to rest in the ditch, police said.

The driver was taken to Northampton General Hospital where he died.

Officers investigating the collision would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed it or who may have any information about what happened.