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Welcoming in the Watercress

A town in Hampshire was a sea of green today - as the twelfth annual Watercress Festival was held. The event at Alresford is famous for its street parade. Morris dancers joined the Watercress King and Queen to distribute the first of the season's watercress harvest. Our reporter Andrew Pate was there too.

Power cables to be buried in area of natural beauty

The energy giant UK Power Networks has decided to bury its power cables in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in east Kent.

The cables are essential for electricity supply, but putting them underground is extremely expensive. The decision has given fresh hope to campaigners trying to prevent a corridor of massive pylons being erected in the Valley of the Great Stour near Canterbury. John Ryall reports.

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New orchard to help UK pears compete with imports

The largest conference pear orchard the UK has seen for 40 years is being planted on a fruit farm in Kent.

It is hoped that modern growing techniques and technology, mean it will be able to compete with European imports, making it easier to buy a local pear -- from local shelves.

The industry has been in decline but its hoped the new orchard will help it flourish. Sarah Saunders reports.

The interviewees are Nigel Stewart, Technical Director; and Edwin Martin, a local food promoter.

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  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

"World's Oldest Sheep" lives in Sussex

At the age of 23, Dolly is taking it easy; living the life of riley, mostly sleeping or eating, or just pottering about. Dolly, you see, is a sheep - and, it's thought, the oldest sheep in the world.

Normally sheep live to about 10 or 12 so at double that, Dolly's doing remarkably well. A bit doddery on her feet but in good voice and with a ferocious appetite, she's looked after on a farm in East Sussex. We send our own doddery reporter, David Johns, to meet her and her keeper, Sharon Moore.

To make a donation to Moore Racehorse Trust, where Dolly and the other animals are being kept, please visit their page on Facebook (click this link to visit).

Badger sett destroyed in targeted attack

An entire badger sett has been destroyed at Bourne Valley Nature Reserve in Poole.

On examining the scene, police found that the multiple sett entrances had all been blocked and the surrounding area flattened. I

t is believed that this location was purposefully targeted, with the offenders bringing builders sand and tools to carry out the act.

The incident was reported to police by a local dog walker on Monday 9 February 2015.

Officers have been investigating this crime and are now appealing to the public. Credit: Dorset Police

Police Constable Claire Dinsdale, a Wildlife Crime Officer for Dorset Police, said: “Disturbing or damaging a badger sett is a criminal offence. Badgers have legal protection because of the sheer brutality of crimes against their species

“This is a sickening act. Badgers normally give birth to their cubs at this time of year. Any family in the sett would have suffocated. The offenders have spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure all escape routes were blocked.

“I am appealing to the local community to report any information regarding this incident to me.

“I would also like to ask the many dog walkers, who use this area regularly, to keep their eyes and ears open and remain vigilant to acts like this. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately.”

Communities in South East to benefit from government cash injection

Hastings Borough Council receives £500,000 to improve the seafront and visitor attractions and amenities in Hastings, including bikes to hire, improved signage, information walks and trails and landscaping. It will create 260 jobs.

This is excellent news and really fits with the seafront strategy which we recently agreed. The restoration of the Pier is well underway, White Rock Baths will re-open this year as a BMX centre and we are putting money into refurbishing Bottle Alley and now we have succeeded in attracting an additional £500,000 to improve the seafront further.

– Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader Hastings Borough Council

The Conservation Volunteers receives £360,000 to improve the Solent Way coastal path through Hampshire, develop nearby routes and better signage. This will create 8jobs.

We’re delighted that we’ve been awarded this grant. The Solent Way runs for 60 miles along the Hampshire coast and passes through some beautiful and wonderful locations. We are looking forward to working with our local authority partners and local people, to help improve and highlight this special place and through this create and support local jobs and businesses.

– Paul Forrest-Jameson from the charity

Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, near Brighton, receives £2.3 million to restore the outside area and pools of Saltdean Lido (the UK’s only Grade2* listed lido) to create a unique tourist and leisure destination and community hub. This will create 60 jobs.

Today's news is a massive boost for both the lido and our local economy. We will now be able to restore and refurbish the pools and outside area and provide local residents and visitors with a beautiful place to swim, relax and enjoy being outside.

I would like to thank the volunteer directors of our group who continue to dedicate hours and hours to restore this unique space and also our local MP Simon Kirby who has supported the project from the outset.

– Rebecca Crook, chair of Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company

Gravesham Borough Council receives £1.8 million to refurbish and revitalise Gravesend's Borough Charter Market to transform it into a thriving retail centre and creative hub. Will benefit 40 local businesses and create 35 jobs.

It is very good news that the merit of the council’s initiative to refurbish one of the oldest charter markets in England has been recognised with this award. The council will now be able to progress our plans to rejuvenate and transform the market so it can once again take its place at the very heart of this riverside heritage town.

– Gravesham Borough Council’s leader Cllr John Burden

Worthing Council, West Sussex receives £245,000 to transform a landmark building and establish a Creative Hub, providing affordable workspace for the creative community together with exhibition and retail space. It will be a focus for business support that can both create and sustain new jobs in the creative industries.

Thanet District Council in Kent receives £247,000 to develop tourism along Thanet’s unique coast in Margate, that will draw visitors throughout the year and encourage people to stay. The project will create two full time and two part time jobs.

I am delighted that the council’s funding bid has been successful. This particular funding will enable us to maximise Thanet’s unique assets. The aim of the project is to enable residents and visitors to engage with the coastline and heritage assets, allowing them to take greater pride in and learn more about Thanet. This crucial funding will also resource the creation of a support network to capitalise on the fantastic volunteering spirit of locals and also mean new people are introduced to Thanet’s stunning coastline.

– Leader of Thanet District Council and Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Iris Johnston

Eastbourne Borough Council in East Sussex receives £1.8 million to regenerate the Devonshire Ward in Eastbourne through developing new leisure and business facilities, improving public realm and promoting local artists and providing training. It will create18 jobs.

This is fantastic news for Devonshire. The £1.8m will deliver many projects across the ward,including improvements to Princes Park, refurbished fascias in Seaside Road andpublic realm enhancements to Seahouses Square.

The residents and businesses of Devonshire will benefit greatly from the investment, and the area will draw in even more tourists.

– Councillor Steve Wallis
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