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KCC pension investment losses as Woodford crisis deepens

Ciaran Duggan

Local Democracy Reporter

County Hall, Maidstone

More than £60m has been wiped off the value of Kent County Council’s pension investment in Neil Woodford’s flagship fund as the crisis deepens.

A council report shows KCC’s pension holding was worth £198.5m at the end of October, down significantly from £260m seven months earlier on 31 March.

This comes just over four weeks since Mr Woodford announced his company would be winding down, which KCC were not told about and whose investment remains trapped inside.

KCC’s superannuation fund committee met behind closed doors last Friday at Maidstone County Hall to discuss the latest financial report on the valuation of its Woodford investment.

The Local Democracy Reporting service understands the KCC superannuation committee pointed towards the “volatile” nature of market valuations during the meeting, which some members said can fluctuate up and down.

It is believed KCC’s superannuation fund committee focused on more positive aspects during the meeting, notably the overall value of its pension investments.

The total value of KCC pension investments are £6.423bn, according to the latest figures, which marks a 3.3 per cent increase from January this year.

Today's South East news website headlines

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The Argus: Brighton Middle Street Synagogue vandalism: Funding bid launched

Kent Online: Photo warning as haystack blaze continues

Get Surrey: Casino nightclub redevelopment plans unveiled for 10-storey building with 260 student rooms and rooftop bar

Chichester Observer: Pagham planning dispute: Three more applications put forward

Eastbourne Herald: Eight-million-pound Hailsham school built in just 10 months

Crawley and Horley Observer: New head gardener takes over at historic estate near Horsham

Worthing Herald: Police officers to hold street surgery in Worthing

Mid Sussex Times: Warninglid care home improves its CQC rating

Brighton & Hove News: Rule change credited with reducing the number of illegal camps in Brighton and Hove

Hastings Observer: Hastings man jailed for making false 999 calls

Brighton & Hove Independent: Police seek woman who told Brighton pub staff a man had tried to rape her

Fire crew remains at 7,000-hay-bale blaze

The haystack fire
David Townsend

Firefighters remain at the scene where about 7.000 bales of hay caught alight in a a field in Westgate-on-Sea in Kent in the early hours of Tuesday.

The Fire Service said it would be allowed to burn itself out "under controlled conditions".

One fire engine remains on the scene, Kent Fire and Rescue Service said.

Residents nearby have been advised to keep doors and windows shut and motorists are warned not to stop to take photos.

Fire in Westgate-on-Sea
Amanda Jayne Priddle

Blaze engulfs 'thousands' of hay bales

The haystack fire
David Townsend

A large fire has engulfed "about 7,000 hay bales" in a field in Westgate-on-Sea in Kent.

Kent Fire & Rescue said it was called about 02:40 GMT and worked throughout the night to bring the blaze under control.

At its height, four fire engines were at the scene on Minster Road.

Local residents have been advised to keep doors and windows shut as “there is still a lot of smoke”, despite the incident being scaled down.

Fire in Westgate-on-Sea
Amanda Jayne Priddle
Fire in Westgate-on-Sea
Amanda Jayne Priddle

Children in Need raises £3.9m in South East

It's been another great fundraising achievement for BBC South East's annual Children in Need appeal.

This year our party was held at Allington Castle near Maidstone.

Whitstable Castle Halloween Party
Whitstable Castle Halloween Party raised £250 through donations, a raffle, an auction - and zombie musical chairs

So far almost £3.9m has been raised across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Thank you to everyone who took part for all your fantastic fundraising efforts.

Today's South East news website headlines

Pile of newspapers
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The Argus: Lewes murder: Man charged over Nicola Stevenson's death

Kent Online: Church faces closure after 900 years

Get Surrey: Major accidents causing hours of delays

ChichesterObserver: Sussex baby airlifted to hospital after she stopped breathing is to feature in national charity Christmas appeal

Eastbourne Herald: Eastbourne man jailed for lifeboat station burglary

Crawley and Horley Observer: Sussex Murder enquiry: Police reveal identity of victim and make second arrest

Worthing Herald: Bomb disposal team called to Worthing beach

Mid Sussex Times: Mid Sussex General Election candidates officially announced

Brighton & Hove News: Former Brighton & Hove Albion trialist goes into Celebrity Jungle

HastingsObserver: Inquest into St Leonards hospice fire deaths to reopen

Brighton & Hove Independent: East Sussex lifeboat assists as migrant vessel is brought to shore in Dungeness

All-girls car club picks up speed
The women car fans taking on the 'boy racer' stereotype.

Search for Kent's Bing Crosby

Bing Bong
Getty Images

A record label is trying to find somebody called Bing Crosby who is registered as living in Kent.

Decca Records said they are aware of three people in the UK with the same name as the "White Christmas" singer, one of whom lives in Kent.

It placed an advert in the Kent Messenger, promising a "five-star Christmas lunch" to anyone who could provide a birth certificate bearing the name "Bing Crosby".

Crosby, who also starred in dozens of films between the 1930s and 70s, died in 1977.

"When we discovered there were possibly three people called Bing Crosby living in the UK, it caused complete pandemonium in the office and we knew we had to do what we could to bring them together," said Tom Lewis, vice president of Decca Records, which released many of the entertainer's hits.

Digger used in Co-op ram raid

Guy Bell

Co-op Cranrbook
Peter Rolington

A digger has been used in a ram raid to steal cash from a Co-op store in Cranbrook.

The JCB was driven into the supermarket on the High Street at about 02:00 GMT. Detectives are now looking for three people in connection with the burglary.

Nobody was injured but the building was damaged and a large amount of cash reported stolen.

The digger remains outside the building and officers recovered another vehicle abandoned in a nearby road that is thought to have been involved.

Det Sgt Jason Booth said: "We remain in the area carrying out inquiries and reviewing CCTV and forensic opportunities. We are looking for three suspects and a third vehicle that may have been used."

Councillors' behaviour criticised

Ciaran Duggan

Local Democracy Reporter

Kent County Council (KCC) members have been urged to improve their behaviour at public meetings after the council’s standards committee expressed its “disappointment” over their conduct.

Several complaints were submitted to the authority over the “inappropriate behaviour” of some of its members in the last two months.

KCC’s standards committee was told on Wednesday that two of the incidents related to public meetings at Maidstone County Hall on September 19 and 24.

A probe into the complaints has been launched by the office of the General Counsel at KCC, although the name of the members involved and specific allegations made remain undisclosed.

KCC’s superannuation fund committee chairman, Councillor Charlie Simkins, said: “We need to be constantly aware that Big Brother is watching us.”

A total of 14 complaints have been made this year over alleged threatening behaviour, social media misconduct and failure to talk to residents over local issues.

But this represents a drop from last year’s total of 17.

Woman arrested after man stabbed

Guy Bell

Gordon Road

A woman has been arrested after a man was stabbed in Chatham.

Kent Police were called to a property in Gordon Road at about 22:40 GMT on Monday.

A 33-year-old woman was arrested and remains in custody. The victim was taken to hospital for treatment.