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High Street shops and customers celebrate being the 'Best in Britain'

The shops in our HIgh Streets have been fighting for survival over the past few years, facing increased competition from online rivals and out-of-town shopping centres.

But now some analysts are predicting the fortunes of high streets in the South East are about to change. The prediction coincides with the announcement that one of the high streets in the Meridian region has been named the 'Best High Street in Britain' by a national newspaper. Malcolm Shaw reports.

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17 years behind bars for armed robbers

Michael Spencer Delsignore Credit: Kent Police

Two armed robbers who stole thousands of pounds of jewellery from a Deal shop were sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison.

Oguzhan Kaya, 18, from Hinchcliffe Way, Margate, and Michael Spencer Delsignore, 29, from Mill Road, Deal, were found guilty at Canterbury Crown Court.

The court heard how the pair were involved in a robbery at Simmonds Jewellers in High Street, Deal, on Wednesday October 31st last year.

Three masked raiders entered the store with a sawn-off shotgun and a hammer and threatened staff.

They smashed glass display cabinets and helped themselves to earrings and watches worth around £3,000.

Police later discovered a van used during the getaway hired to Delsignore, containing price tags and labels relating to some of the items stolen during the raid. Delsignore was arrested on November 1st.

Oguzhan Kaya Credit: Kent Police

Six days later a warrant was carried out at an address in Bath Road, Margate, where more stolen property was unearthed. Officers found Kaya hiding in the basement and he was arrested along with Kayleigh Somerville, 22.

Kaya was found guilty of robbery and possession of a firearm and Delsignore guilty of robbery. Somerville pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods at an earlier hearing.

Kaya was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Delsignore was given a seven year prison sentence while Somerville, of Bath Road, Margate, was given a four month sentence, suspended for two years.

Det Const Nathan Scamp said: "This was a planned armed robbery designed to threaten and scare staff and make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time. The staff at the store genuinely feared for their lives."

French Connection

An engineering company that wants to build a 40 billion pound airport on sandbanks off Deal on the Kent coast has outlined its scheme - to a French audience. Beckett Rankine were invited to explain the proposal to business leaders in Calais.

Here, the scheme has been labelled as ludicrous by the local MP. But backers say it's the best option for a new hub airport for south-east England - and northern Europe.

Derek Johnson speaks to French business representatives Vincent Didry and Thaddee Segard, Hilary Newport from Protect Kent and Tim Beckett from marine consulting engineers Beckett Rankine.

Deal airport plans: media briefing

The firm behind proposals to build a Kent airport on the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast have outlined their ideas to business leaders and the media in Calais.

Our Correspondent Derek Johnson has been following the morning's events and has been tweeting about people's reactions.

Deal or No Deal: will airport plans take off?

More details of architects' proposals for a hub airport on the Goodwin Sands, six miles off Deal on the Kent Coast, are being revealed at a briefing in Calais today.

Beckett Rankine outline their proposals to the media Credit: Derek Johnson

The firm behind proposals to build a Kent airport on the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast have outlined their ideas to business leaders and the media in Calais.

Maritime engineers Beckett Rankine say the £39 billion four-runway airport would benefit millions of people in northern France and become a hub for Northern Europe.

The plan - one of several being considered in an ongoing government review into airport capacity - is opposed by the local MP and environmentalists.

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Appeal to find missing Gemma

Gemma Bates is from Deal but also has links to Sussex Credit: family photo

Kent Police is appealing for the public's help to trace a woman from Deal who was reported missing four days ago.

Gemma Louise Bates, 31 from Cottington Lakes, Sholden in Deal has been missing since 16th January 2013. Police are concerned for her welfare.

She also has links to the Sussex area and a car registered to her has been spotted in Brighton. She is described as white, 5ft 11ins tall, with shoulder length straight brown hair, and was wearing dark blue jeans, black fingerless gloves with a skull and cross bone pattern and a black weather coat.

She also has several visible tattoos including stars on her right wrist and a ring on her middle, left finger. Her car is a dark blue Ford KA, registration number GJ04 UFC.

Oh Yes We Can!

It was an annual tradition that began in the 1950s: the Royal Marines put on a pantomime at their barracks at Deal in Kent. But when they relocated to Portsmouth sixteen years ago, the Pantos stopped.

Now, former Marines still living in Deal have revived the idea - and "The Wizard Who's Odd" starts tonight. David Johns has been to see rehearsals and spoke to Wally Walters ("Royal Maureen"), Alan Upton ("Dorrity") and Brian Short (writer and director)

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