ITV Meridian news in brief

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

Do you know this man? Police appeal after train conductor punched in face

Do you recognise this man? Credit: BTP

British Transport Police have launched an investigation after a member of rail staff was punched in the face on the 2.53pm Victoria to Ramsgate train on Monday, February 18th.

Officers have released this CCTV image of a man they want to speak to after the incident, which took place around 4.30pm.

Det Const Bob Gee said: “A man got on at Faversham station and approached the ticket inspector to purchase a ticket to Herne Bay.

“The man became irate after his card was declined at the first attempt to take payment. When the payment went through on the second try, unprovoked, the man suddenly became violent, and punched the ticket inspector in the face, leaving him with a cracked cheekbone.

“This was an unprovoked attack on a man who was simply trying to do his job. As a result of being punched, he is currently receiving treatment, including facial surgery, for his injuries.

“If you recognise the man pictured, if you saw the incident take place, or if you are the man himself, we urge you to come forward and speak to us.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 0800 405040 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Council tax freeze for fire authority

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority has agreed a budget which will see its portion of council tax frozen for the third successive year.

The authority says £2 million of savings it made last year means council tax will remain the same, despite further Government grant cuts.

Though the rate has been frozen, the amount the authority will receive will fall due to Government changes to the council tax benefit system.

The budget for providing fire and rescue services to Hampshire for 2013-14 will be £67.5 million, a 4.3% fall from last year.

With the continuing pressure on household budgets I am delighted that the Authority has been able to set a budget that means no increase in our portion of the council tax for the third year running.

"We will continue to review how our services are delivered to make Hampshire safer."

– Cllr Royston Smith, Chairman of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority

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Horses saved by firefighters

Around a dozen horses were saved at a New Forest stables after an adjoining building caught fire yesterday.

Firefighters were called to a farmhouse in Hill Top at around 4.30pm and discovered the roof alight.

The building was surrounded by stables containing the horses, two of which were led to safety by an animal rescue specialist.

The others were able to remain in their stables but were also looked after by firefighters.

The occupants of the farmhouse were able to escape after their smoke alarm alerted them to the fire.

Around half the roof was destroyed and a third of the lounge was also damaged. The fire is believed to have originated from a log burner in the house.

The buildings were arranged in such a formation that we had to contain the fire quickly to prevent it spreading to the stables and barn.

"The crews worked very hard in a short space of time to strip the roof tiles to allow us to attack the fire from above. Firefighters also entered through the loft hatch to attack from below and surround the fire.

"The owners of the horses were certainly extremely grateful to see us contain the fire so quickly and stop it spreading to the stables."

– Station Manager Rob Cole

300 jobs to be created in hotel development

More than 300 jobs are to be created through a £5 million hotel and affordable homes development in Brighton's city centre.

A Government grant will be used to build the complex on derelict land behind the city's main railway station.

Coast To Capital has £23 million of Government funding and expects to announce further loans to public and private sector organisations.

Its chief executive, Ron Crank, said: "Our aim is to remove blockages that are preventing development and private sector employment. This is one of Coast To Capital's major strategies."

Police appeal after pensioners suffers bag snatch

A witness appeal has been made after a handbag was snatched from a trolley whilst a 60-year-old woman was loading her car with shopping at a Canterbury supermarket.

The man grabbed the bag in Morrison’s car park in Wincheap at about 11.45am on Thursday, February 14th.

The woman, who walks with the help of a stick, shouted at the man and attempted to follow him as he made off towards Ten Perch Road.

The man is described as aged between 19 and 22, white, 5ft 10ins and was wearing a tan coloured baseball cap, dark navy cotton jacket and dark trousers.

Witnesses should contact Sergeant Alan Pedwell at Kent Police on 101.