ITV Meridian news in brief

All the news as it breaks in the south, south east and Thames Valley.

Half a million pounds of cocaine seized

Border Force officers are investigating after approximately five kilos of cocaine was seized at the Channel Tunnel entrance in France.

The drugs, with an estimated street value of £500,000, were discovered on Friday when officers stopped a Dutch-registered lorry.

The lorry and its load of machinery were searched and officers found the drugs in a fridge in the vehicle’s cab.

David Perry, 32, from Ashford in Kent appeared via video link at Canterbury Magistrates Court yesterday, charged with the attempted importation.

He pleaded guilty and was remanded in custody. He will next appear at Canterbury Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.

Council tax freeze for Essex

Essex County Council plans to freeze its share of the council tax for the third successive year.

Proposals, which need to be agreed by full council next month, would see investments in school places, vulnerable welfare and economic growth, while also seeking to make £55 million in savings.

Like most councils we are receiving less Government funding this year compared to last year. We do not know the full impact yet as the complex nature of the new Government funding approach means we are still waiting on clarification on some of the final figures.

“Despite this I am delighted we have been able to develop recommendations which - while identifying savings - continue to ensure we provide quality, value for money services, make investments in key areas, and deliver a freeze in our share of the council tax for the third successive year."

– Cllr David Finch, deputy leader

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Shock failure hands Alex Thomson third place

Alex Thomson after crossing the starting line of the Vendee Globe in November 2012 Credit: PA

Gosport based sailor Alex Thomson has moved into third place in the Vendee Global yacht race.

It came after the competitor he was trailing, Jean-Pierre Dick, lost his keel with just over 2,000 of the 28,000 mile race left. Until that point, Dick was continuing to close on the front two and still had faint hopes of catching them.