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Driver fined for pretending a thief had crashed his car

A driver from Sussex who crashed his car and then lied that it had been stolen was caught when his DNA was found on the airbag.

27-year-old Ciaran Fitzgerald, of Ruskin Road, Hove, crashed into two cars on Norton Road, before he fled the scene. Later that day he called the police to report that his car had been stolen.

When his DNA was found to be on the airbag, he admitted he had lied and accepted a police caution for perverting the course of justice.

He was also charged with driving without due care and attention, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.

He pleaded guilty to all the charges when he appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court on 12 March and was given eight points on his licence, fined £183 and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

"Fitzgerald thought he could get away with crashing his car by claiming his vehicle had been stolen but good work by our CSIs meant we could prove he was behind the wheel when the impact happened. "Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offence in itself. If you are involved in a crash, stay put and call us so that we can investigate."

– Police Constable Dan Patterson

New scheme helps vulnerable people use public transport

New scheme gives vulnerable adults confidence to use public transport

For people with learning difficulties public transport is often a lifeline - giving them the freedom to work, shop and socialise when otherwise they could be trapped at home. Yet many say they lack confidence and fear getting lost or even abused. Now a new programme is being launched to help them.

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AK-47 assault rifle found on the beach

An AK-47 assault rifle was found washed up on the beach Credit: Sussex Police

An AK-47 assault rifle was found on the beach in Brighton has been "secured" by police.

The Kalashnikov was found on Peacehaven beach by a member of the public.

A police spokesman said: "After being handed in, the Section One firearm was secured pending further enquiries. It is illegal to own such a weapon in the UK."

"It appears it was washed up on the tide and here was no ammunition with it.

"It will now be subject to a full examination as we try to establish its provenance.

"However, at this stage it is not believed to be linked to any crimes."

– Ch Insp Dave Padwick,

Homeless numbers double in Brighton and Hove over last 5 years

Homeless shelters see rise in need for help Credit: ITV news

A Housing Trust is calling for politicians to bring an end to homelessness after rough sleeping figures in Brighton and Hove almost doubled over 5 years. The city council currently has 21 thousand families on its waiting list for a home.

In response Brighton and Hove Council say "We have built 15 new homes for rent at Balchin Court, Brighton. We also currently have 225 council homes for Affordable Rent under the council's New Homes for Neighbourhoods programme which are approved to go ahead.

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Driver blocks ambulance on its way to treat poorly baby

A driver has apologised after he refused to move his van to allow an ambulance through to treat a baby who was suffering a fit.

The driver swore at the ambulance crew who told him to move his van. Credit: PA Wire

The ambulance crew were blocked in by a Mercedes Sprinter van that was "double parked" on Buckingham Road, Brighton as they tried to reach the poorly baby early on Friday 13 February.

The ambulance driver sounded the horn and sirens in a bid to alert the nearby driver.

But when the 37-year-old man returned to his vehicle he refused to move it - instead telling paramedics to go another way.

After paramedics reasoned with the driver, he eventually moved his van slowly while swearing at the crew.

The driver, from Littlehampton in West Sussex, later admitted obstructing the emergency vehicle and was ordered to donate £100 to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit at Royal Sussex County Hospital.

He also wrote a letter apologising for what police called his "unacceptable" behaviour.

The baby is believed to have made a full recovery, a Sussex Police spokesperson told ITV News.

Brighton & Hove councillors fail to agree on budget

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council have failed to set a budget after six hours of negotiations, and will now reconvene on Tuesday 3 March.

At just after 10.30pm the council chief executive Penny Thompson said it was unlikely they were going to be unable to reach an agreement this evening.

They were trying to decide whether tax payers in the city will face the biggest increase in their bills in the country.

The Greens want a rise of almost 6%, which would equate to more than £70 a year for an average household.

They say without a big rise they will have to make drastic cuts in public services. Both Labour and the Conservatives feel this is too high.

The opposition Labour group leader Warren Morgan tonight argued for a 2% rise in council tax.

Calls for improvements to Britain's oldest Velodrome

Preston Park Velodrome Credit: Brighton and Hove Council

More than 3,200 people have signed a petition for improvements to be made to a cycling track in Brighton. The Preston Park Velodrome is the oldest of its kind in the country. It's been closed to racing since last month after British Cycling said it was too dangerous to use for competitive events.

Organisers of a campaign to save the Preston Park Velodrome are to stage a slow-ride around the track to raise awareness. The ride, which is billed as the first of many, will take place on Saturday, 28 February at 11am.

Preston Park velodrome Campaigner Kim Fortescue Talwar said: "It's brilliant to see so much support for the Velodrome"

Since the launch of the petition, the council and British Cycling have had further meetings to discuss the repairs and costs involved, and agree a way forward for the work required.

A spokesman for British Cycling said: "British Cycling recognises the value of the Preston Park facility and we are working with Brighton and Hove Council to find a solution as quickly as possible. Some repairs were carried out by the Council but concerns remain about certain parts of the track where it is thought that safety may be compromised in competitive events. The council has agreed to look into what will be required to bring the track up to standard. Like the hundreds of people in the area who value the facility, we look forward to competitive cycling returning to Preston Park in the near future."

Councillors call for referendum after council tax poll

Many said a rise was justified in 'certain circumstances' Credit: PA

Green councillors in Brighton & Hove say that a survey, showing majority support for an increase in the city's Council Tax, strengthens their call for a referendum on a 5.9% increase.

The poll, carried out by the Brighton & Hove Independent newspaper, shows that 61% of respondents support a Council Tax increase, with 42% backing a rise of 5.9% or more. The Green administration has proposed a 5.9% increase to save the city from the effects of a £17million reduction in the 2015/16 revenue support grant.

The survey backs up research carried out by Brighton & Hove City Council last October which showed 61% believe a tax rise is justified in 'certain circumstances'.

This poll highlights the strength of feeling in the city in support of our public services and the increasing willingness of people to contribute more to keep those services going. It's striking that the figures from the B&H Independent poll tally precisely with the results of the council's own survey.

– Green finance lead, Cllr. Ollie Sykes
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