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Rail cables damaged by fire mended but delays continue

Network Rail says work to replace signalling cables destroyed by fire have now been completed and rail services on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street should be returning to normal.

However, passengers are being warned by Greater Anglia that a dozen or so services between east London and Essex will be cancelled or amended by the high temperatures.

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A points failure at Ilford was to blame for some of the delays according to Network Rail.

Reservoir levels in Anglian region 'still good'

Hosepipe bans are in place in the Isle of Man and parts of the Republic of Ireland, but Anglian Water, which covers the east of England, Rutland and parts of Lincolnshire, says water levels in its reservoirs are still looking healthy, despite the long heatwave.

The company has been measuring supplies in its reservoirs at Alton Water in Suffolk, Ardleigh reservoir near Colchester, Covenham in Lincolnshire, Grafham Water in Cambridgshire; Hollowell, Pitsford Water and Ravensthorpe Resevoir in Northamptonshire, and Rutland Water and says levels are "still good for the time of year".

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Alton near Ipswich is at the bottom of the table at just shy of 80% capacity, while Covenham tops the table with 96%.

However, the company is still asking customers not to be complacent and to make sure they are using water wisely.

Council repairs service overspends by £666,000 in three months

Jason Noble

Suffolk Local Democracy Reporter

A team formed to carry out repairs and maintenance on council homes has cost £666,000 more than expected, figures have revealed.

Babergh Mid Suffolk Building Services (BMBS) was established by the two councils last year as an alternative to outside contracts, but reports have shown the team has incurred higher-than-expected costs.

In Mid Suffolk spending was £368,000 higher, while in Babergh it was £298,000 up on the forecast.

Gavin Fisk, assistant director for housing for both councils, said: "As the service was set up last year, additional costs have been incurred as part of its implementation and have been offset by savings elsewhere in the housing service provision.

"As such the costs have balanced themselves out. These are one off start-up costs and will not be incurred again."

Damaged rail cables expected to be fixed by afternoon

Network Rail says it hopes to complete repairs by this afternoon to signalling cables that were destroyed in a trackside fire yesterday.

Train
PA

Services on the Greater Anglia Norwich to London line are being seriously disrupted and delayed as a result.

Network Rail added the delays were now also being caused by stock being in the wrong place as a result of all the problems.

A short while ago Greater Anglia said services between London and some parts of Essex would continue to be delayed this afternoon due to "heat related" problems.

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Recommendations for Suffolk ward boundaries revealed

Jason Noble

Suffolk Local Democracy Reporter

The final recommendations for a shake up of district council ward boundaries for Babergh and Mid Suffolk have been published - reducing the number of seats by 17.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has made its final proposals after a series of consultations.

The changes include reducing the number of Babergh councilors from 32 to 21 and those in Mid Suffolk to 34, a drop of six.

The final order will now be put forward to Parliament in the coming weeks and be implemented for the council elections in May 2019.

Mid Suffolk ward boundaries
Crown Copyright
Mid Suffolk District Council
Babergh ward boundaries
Crown Copyright
Babergh District Council

Problems on the trains due to track-side fire

Following a track-side fire near Colchester yesterday, there is are reduced train services and delays again today.

The main problems are cancellations between Colchester and Ipswich, with knock-on effects to services to Harwich, Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton.

Check Greater Anglia for the latest .. and the train company is also tweeting.

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Suffolk man's beach clean marathon
Jason Alexander has a "beach clean marathon challenge" at 12 sites in one county in six days.
Ipswich Town: Paul Hurst faces quick-fire question round
New Ipswich Town boss Paul Hurst steps up to face a round of quick-fire Q&A.

Local acts rub shoulders with legends at folk festival

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Seven-strong Americana band Morganway (pictured) are one of a clutch of East of England bands playing this year's Cambridge Folk Festival.

Morganway
Morganway

The band, hitting Stage 2 today, was formed in Norwich by twin brothers Callum and Kieran Morgan, who live in Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge respectively.

Callum said: "Cambridge Folk Festival is without a doubt legendary, and we're so thrilled to be playing this year.

Alden, Patterson and Dashwood
BBC

"Patti Smith [who is at this year's festival] is one of my personal heroes - I remember hearing her cover of Hey Joe when I was a teenager and being completely knocked out by the sheer energy and attitude of her sound."

At the Club Tent, Thursday's Band, which has members from Cambs, Herts and Suffolk, plays on Friday as does Norfolk/Cambs band Roslie's Lover and on Sunday, Hertfordshire sing-songwriter Kelly Oliver, guitarist and harmonicist, is headlining.

Other bands playing from our region include the Shackleton Trio and Alden, Patterson & Dashwood.

Independent review into £97m bridge project for Ipswich

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Fears a £97m bridge project over the Upper Orwell in Ipswich could end up costing well over budget have prompted an independent review.

Plans for the Ipswich bridge
Fosters + Partners

Plans for the three crossings are on hold by Suffolk County Council until a new analysis of the costs comes back in September.

The major bridge project, which is still in its planning stages, was originally expected to cost £97m, with about 75% of the money coming from the government and the rest from Suffolk taxpayers.

But a recent internal review of costs has forecast that the total amount needed to complete the project could increase significantly.

Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council's leader, said: "It's clear to me that whilst the significant project is being managed well, there is currently some uncertainty around the costs. If we're going to proceed and build these bridges, that uncertainty needs to be addressed right now."

Council orders review into cost of Upper Orwell Crossings

The leader of Suffolk County Council has started an independent review into the cost of building the Upper Orwell Crossings in Ipswich.

Image of the proposed Upper Orwell Crossings, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council

Councillor Matthew Hicks said there was "currently some uncertainty" around the bridge project, which was originally priced at £97m but could end up costing significantly more.

Mr Hicks said: "It’s clear to me that whilst the significant project is being managed well, there is currently some uncertainty around the costs.

"If we’re going to proceed and build these bridges, that uncertainty needs to be addressed now."

Work on the project has been temporarily paused until the review findings are published in September.

Archaealogical dig in Rendlesham awarded £41,600 grant

Jason Noble

Suffolk Local Democracy Reporter

Suffolk's archaeological service has been boosted by a £41,600 lottery grant for "internationally important" work uncovering the county's Anglo-Saxon history.

Excavation
Suffolk County Council

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the grant to Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service for the Rendlesham Revealed: Anglo-Saxon Life in South-East Suffolk project.

The money will be used for the first phase of a programme lasting a year which includes research work, the employment of a project officer and trial sessions with the local community and schools.

Faye Minter, senior archaeological officer, said: "It will be community-led archaeology with the training of volunteers, schools and other people from anywhere in south east Suffolk.

"We hope to have on-site work and excavation in the main four years and then [further work] looking at how to identify finds and working with schools."

Road workers in Suffolk verbally abused

Suffolk County Council has urged drivers to remain patient while roadworks take place during hot weather.

A number of workers have reported being verbally abused by impatient motorists.

The council's roads and transport team took to Twitter to remind drivers that "breaks are essential" for road workers carrying out long shifts in the heat.

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Warning as busy time for firefighters in Suffolk

A fire station commander who has been dealing with large crop fire off the A143 near Hinderclay between Bury St Edmunds and Diss has warned people to be aware of the risks of accidentally causing fires.

Station Commander Trevor Hill
BBC

Station Commander Trevor Hill (pictured) said the hot weather meant it had been a "busy time" for firefighters.

"It's been incredibly hard work," he said. "People need to be sensible with cigarettes and if they are having barbecues."

The fire has been brought under control. He said crews had received help from colleagues in Norfolk and Essex.

Fire at Hinderclay
BBC

Package of £6m for Suffolk recycling centres

A package of £6m to help retain and upgrade some of the Suffolk’s recycling centres has been backed by the county council's cabinet.

The money will go towards improving the county’s busiest recycling centre on Foxhall Road, near Ipswich, as well as a site at Portman's Walk in the town and sites in Haverhill and Stowmarket.

Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich, communities and waste, said: "This is a very positive decision for the future of our recycling centres in Suffolk."

Storm warning issued

Thunderstorms are due to hit the East of England this evening.

A Met Office yellow weather warning will be in place until 23:59 tonight, following an extended warm spell.

Many areas will remain dry but there is the potential for slow-moving thundery downpours, causing localised flooding and road and rail delays.

Firefighters call out 30 appliances to tackle crop blazes

Fire crews have been tackling a wide range of field fires across Suffolk and they are blaming the dry weather for a big rise in crop blazes.

The biggest incident today was near Hadleigh where 15 appliances were called to tackle a fire spreading across a 40 acre (16 hectare) field.

Hengrave fire
Sky Cam East
An field fire at Hengrave earlier this month

Ian Bowell, from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It was the biggest single fire the crews had to deal with, but other incidents were also breaking out at the same time.

"In the two hour period between 11:00 and 13:00 we had 30 appliances deployed to fires across the county."

Extinct fen orchid flowers at secret valley sites for first time since 1975

An endangered orchid has flowered for the first time in Suffolk since 1975.

The rare fen orchid was declared locally extinct, but a partnership between Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) and British conservation charity Plantlife has brought it back.

Fen orchid
Suffolk Wildlife Trust

With pale yellow blooms, the species is dependent on open fenland to thrive and had disappeared because of habitat loss from agricultural use or fens reverting to woodland.

For the past 30 years, SWT has been working to restore a number of fenland sites by improving the amount of water, removing encroaching scrub and re-instating traditional mowing techniques.

In 2017, with habitat again suitable for the fen orchid, Plantlife brought the orchid back to undisclosed sites in valley fens and they have now produced the first flowers for over 40 years.

Surgery to close after failure to recruit GPs to cover appointments

Jason Noble

Suffolk Local Democracy Reporter

An Ipswich GPs' surgery serving 4,000 people is to close at the end of the year because it can't recruit enough doctors to cover all the appointments.

The Landseer Road surgery, run by the Chesterfield Drive practice five miles away on the other side of town, is operating with a reduced capacity and will shut in December.

Landseer Road surgery
Google

The GPs are due to comment in detail on the closure later, but a statement on its website said services were being gradually reduced and patients not wishing to move to the Chesterfield Drive surgery should register with another practice before the end of the year.

Liz Harsant, borough councillor for the area, said she was "shocked" after learning of the closure from a Suffolk County Council health scrutiny committee report and said more should be done to keep the practice open as it would put pressure on other surgeries in the area.

Andy Yacoub, Healthwatch Suffolk chief executive, said: "We understand that some patients registered at Landseer Road are already using Chesterfield Drive Surgery and information had been provided about alternatives."

Gran, 81, lay on pavement for three hours waiting for ambulance

Bedford Today

An 81-year-old woman was left lying on the pavement in agony from a broken hip for three hours before an ambulance arrive.

Police officer recognised for North Sea rescue

A Suffolk Police officer has described receiving a bravery award for saving a vulnerable woman's life as "very humbling".

PC Stephen Vaughan responded to reports of a missing, suicidal woman who had left hospital against medical advice on New Year's Eve. He found her floating in the North Sea and sprang into action.

The citation read that "without any consideration for his own safety", the officer swam into the freezing water and retrieved the woman, giving her CPR. She has since made a full recovery.

PC Stephen Vaughan
Suffolk Police

Supt Jon Dodman, head of specialist operations for Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, said: "PC Vaughan’s selfless actions are a credit to him and the entire force."

PC Vaughan was one of eight regional winners among 80 officers from across 40 forces to attend the Police Federation reception at 10 Downing Street.

Court closures affect Suffolk residents

More Suffolk residents are failing to appear for court hearings because of the "huge distances" they have to travel, a new study shows.

The number of warrants issued for defendants based in more rural parts of the county has gone up by approximately 10% since the magistrates' courts in Lowestoft (pictured) and Bury St Edmunds closed in 2016.

The county's only remaining magistrates' courthouse, in Ipswich, now has to potentially cater for around 750,000 people spread over a distance of 1,600 sq miles.

The University of Suffolk's Dr Olumide Adisa, who carried out the study, said: "The court closures have led to a doubling of time costs for defendants and their witnesses, living further away from Ipswich.

"More defendants are failing to appear for their court hearing [from] more remote areas of Suffolk, where people have to travel huge distances."

Lowestoft's combined courthouse
BBC

Have you got a 'high ball drive'?

If you have, Norfolk and Suffolk police forces are on the lookout for you...

But only if you're a DOG. And more precisely, a Labrador or a spaniel breed and you fancy a rewarding new career sniffing out things like drugs, firearms and contraband cash.

Police Dog (PD) Barry
@NSPoliceDogs
PD Barry is a fully-qualified member of the Norfolk and Suffolk dog squad

That's all in a day's work for the Norfolk and Suffolk police dogs unit, and they've just launched an appeal for potential new recruits aged between eight months and two years.

So if you know a pooch with a "high ball drive" who is more than "happy to search for a ball" both on and off the lead, you know who to call.

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RAF 100 flypast goes over Suffolk

Dozens of planes were spotted over Suffolk in the past hour, as the Royal Air Force organised an ambitious flypast to mark its centenary.

Red Arrows
David Nichols
Planes in the RAF 100 flypast
David Nichols

The planes gathered off the coast of Suffolk and headed towards Ipswich before following the A12 to London.

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family watched the flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Would Gareth Southgate let hedgehogs die of thirst?

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is jumping on the World Cup bandwagon in a bid to save hedgehogs. Following the success of the #GarethSouthgateWould hashtag on social media, the trust is asking people to be more like the genial England manager and leave water out for thirsty animals.

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West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock appointed health secretary

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has said he is "really looking forward" to starting his new role as health secretary "at such an important time" for the NHS.

He was appointed last night after resignations over Theresa May's Brexit strategy, which saw Boris Johnson quit as foreign secretary, to be replaced by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Matt Hancock.
Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock, a Remain supporter in the Brexit referendum, was former chancellor George Osborne's adviser and chief of staff before standing down when he ran for a seat in West Suffolk in 2010.

The father-of-three entered government in 2012 and was promoted to culture secretary in January.

The following month, he became the first MP to launch his own smartphone app as a way to "connect" with his constituents but later had to defend it over privacy concerns.

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Chris Packham to 'bioblitz' nature reserves

Chris Packham
Penny Dixie

BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham is to bring his UK Bioblitz team to reserves in the East of England later this month.

The aim is to record wildlife numbers to gauge the extent to which species are under threat at 50 UK sites over 14-22 July.

On Sunday, 22 July, the National Trust's Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Weeting Heath and RSPB Lakenheath Fen in Suffolk (pictured) will be hosting events.

Packham said: "I need to meet the people with their fingers on the pulse of our wildlife.

"I love learning and seeing new places and species but I fear that I will also bear witness to a landscape in huge trouble."

Lakenheath Fen
RSPB

Suffolk free school transport policy decision stands

Suffolk County Council's decision to only provide free school transport for children if they go to their nearest school has been upheld.

The council's cabinet approved the move in June, which the Conservative administration says will save £5.8m a year over the next 10 years.

The council's scrutiny committee had been asked by opposition councillors to check whether projections of the cost of transport were accurate.

The committee has ruled that the cabinet decision was made in accordance with Scrutiny Procedure Rules.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for schools, said "I know some are not happy with the recommendations for change, but the fact is, as we have clarified today, the correct process has been followed."

Suffolk County Council HQ
BBC

Register for the 2019 FA People's Cup

#FAPeoplesCup

Have you been blown over by the World Cup? Fancy yourself as the next Harry Kane?

Enjoy some of the best moments from the 2018 FA People's Cup and register to play in the 2019 FA People's Cup, the biggest five-a-side tournament in the country...

FA People's Cup 2019: Registration open for biggest five-a-side tournament in the country