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Multi million pound budget crisis for East Kent Hospitals

The troubleshooter hired to shake up three struggling hospitals in East Kent has revealed a multi million pound budget crisis.

The East Kent Hospital Trust, which has been in special measures for almost a year, has a budget shortfall of almost £40 million.

Chris Brown, hired on a controversial salary of nearly £300,000 to lead the recovery of the hospitals, says radical measures are needed to balance the books.

Tomorrow a report from the health service regulator will slate standards of financial management at the East Kent NHS Trust.

Watch John Ryall's report.

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  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Dungeness estate yours for £1.5m

How do you fancy getting your hands on a country landscape by the sea? Well the Dungeness estate has gone on sale.

It's almost five hundred acres of desert-like terrain, jutting out into the English channel, shifting banks of shingle with a nuclear power station at its tip.

David Johns has been to see what you get for your money.

He spoke to estate trustee Maurice Ede, nature reserve manager Owen Leyshon, and estate agent Will Whittaker.

New warning over rogue traders

Dorset Police and Trading Standards Officers are warning householders in Dorset, particularly pensioners, to be extra vigilant after receiving a large number of calls relating to suspected rogue traders.

The offenders offer services including power washing driveways, cutting down trees and tending gardens, as well as selling chainsaws and generators. They also carry out general building work, including tarmacking, in exchange for cash.

Police believe that criminals carrying out this type of fraud are doing so while travelling through the county, but there are also people in the area who try to con the elderly.

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Commons Speaker racked up £172 bill in chauffeur-driven car - travelling just 0.7 miles

John Bercow has been accused of "obscene waste" after racking up a £172 bill being chauffeur-driven to a conference just 0.7 miles (1.1km) from Parliament.

The Commons Speaker - and MP for Buckingham - also spent £367 taking a car to Luton to deliver a speech on how MPs were restoring their reputation after the expenses scandal.

Fresh details of Mr Bercow's travel costs have been disclosed following a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association.

The details come at a difficult time for Mr Bercow. His private life has been in the headlines, with his wife, Sally, admitting she had been a "terrible wife" amid reports that she had an affair.

Commons Speaker John Bercow Credit: ITV News

Mr Bercow has been widely criticised for splashing out large sums on foreign trips - including visits to Australia, New Zealand, Burma, South Africa, the US, Finland and Austria.

But while the House authorities have previously published breakdowns of hundreds of thousands of pounds of his expenses since 2009, they have not always been complete.

In the wake of a landmark Court of Appeal ruling on the scope of FOI, Parliament has now supplied the individual receipts that were submitted over the past three years.

Among the material in the disclosure is:

:: Mr Bercow used an official car to travel to Canterbury to see Archbishop Justin Welby enthroned in 2013 - at a cost of £524.

:: In April that year he spent £172 taking a car to Carlton House Terrace - just 0.7 miles (1.1km) from the Commons - to open a conference on alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). A taxi fare for the round trip is likely to have been less than £15.

:: The same month his transport bill to a dinner organised by charity Stonewall at the Dorchester Hotel - 1.5 miles (2.4km) from Parliament - was £144.

::: A one-way drive from King's Cross station to Speaker's House after a day trip to Leeds in July 2013 cost £168.

:: Mr Bercow's car to Baroness Thatcher's funeral at St Paul's Cathedral, 1.8 miles (2.9km) from the Commons, cost £158.

John and Sally Bercow Credit: PA Images

:: In May 2013 there was a £367 bill for the Speaker to be driven to the University of Bedfordshire, where he gave a lecture on reforming parliament to ensure it was a "credible institution". "The expenses scandal proved to be an 'adapt or die' moment for Members of Parliament," he said.

:: He kept a chauffeur-driven car waiting while he attended a memorial service for former minister Malcolm Wicks in Croydon, south London, in October 2012 - costing £289 for five hours.

:: The Speaker had a Foreign Office car pick him up at Manchester Piccadilly station after travelling up to attend the funeral of Labour MP Paul Goggins in January last year. It ferried Mr Bercow and a staff member around "as directed" at a cost of £298, before they stayed at the Park Inn Radisson hotel in the centre of the city.

The following day, it took Mr Bercow and two staff members to the service in Salford, waiting and dropping them back to Manchester Piccadilly at a further cost of £276.

In total, the Speaker and his staff ran up expenses of nearly £1,300 attending the service.

:: Mr Bercow and an aide charged 299 US dollars for dinner while staying at the five-star Strand hotel in Rangoon during an official visit to Burma in the summer of 2013. The hotel's website says it offers "grand colonial splendour".

:: Long distance calls totalling 63 euro (£44) were made from Mr Bercow's room during a visit to Vienna in May 2013.

Mr Bercow is not believed to require an official car for security reasons, and the receipts indicate he has used commercial firms as well as the Government Car Service.

A spokesman for the Speaker said: "One of the Speaker's duties is to represent Parliament at home and abroad. The Speaker attends funerals and memorials for former parliamentarians as both a mark of respect and as a representative of his parliamentary colleagues.

"Additionally, the Speaker is committed to encouraging public engagement with Parliament and regularly visits universities, charities and other organisations around the UK to explain the work of the House of Commons.

"The Speaker is always mindful of costs, and travels standard class in the UK and when away from home, stays in hotels that offer value for money.

"In some instances a car service is required to facilitate timing requirements. In line with the Speaker's commitment to greater transparency details of these costs have been published on a quarterly basis since 2013."

But TaxPayers' Alliance campaign director Andy Silvester said: "This is an obscene waste of money and shows appalling judgment from whoever made the arrangements.

"Hugely expensive chauffeur-driven travel and costly meals abroad don't look good when this Speaker was elected specifically to improve the reputation of Parliament in light of the expenses scandal.

"This money doesn't grow on trees - it comes straight out of taxpayers' pockets, and it must be treated with more respect."

Region's diesel prices below petrol for first time in 15 years

Drivers of diesel cars have plenty to smile about tonight after prices fell below petrol for the first time in 15 years.

Morrisons sparked a supermarket forecourt war after it cut the price of diesel by up to two pence a litre. Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's have all followed suit.

Diesel is normally more expensive than petrol. But lower wholesale costs has led to savings being passed on at the pumps. Our transport correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

The silver 2p coin that isn't small change!

The silver 2p coin Credit: Royal Berkshire Hospital

One of the rarest British coins has boosted research funds at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

The 1971 silver 2p coin was discovered in a donation box for unwanted foreign currency.

Silver coins can be mistakenly struck during the minting process. The 2p coin was bought by a collector for £800.

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