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The south's parents are fined thousands of pounds for taking children out of school

Kent, West Sussex and Surrey Councils are some of the highest in the country for fining parents over unauthorised school leave. Stricter government guidelines came in two years ago that made it harder to take children out of school during term time, to crack down on absence.

Many families say they can't afford to go away during school holidays Credit: ITV News Meridian

Since fines were introduced the number given out has trebled, with tens of thousands handed out last year alone. Here's a snapshot of the numbers of fines issued across the South.

  • Kent 4,366 fines
  • West Sussex 2,402 fines
  • East Sussex 2,131 fines
  • Surrey 1904
  • Wiltshire 736 fines
  • Brighton 726 fines
  • Southampton 677 fines
  • Poole 316 fines
  • Reading 170 fines
  • West Berkshire163 fines

Families can be charged up to £120 per child for unauthorised absence. Many parents argue they would rather pay the fine and take a holiday when its cheaper than pay a premium for trips during the school holidays.

The Local Government Association has called for change saying the system is unfair and calling for Headteachers to have greater flexibilty. However Schools Minister Nick Gibb has been quick to defend the rules saying missing school can affect grades.

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

First rush hour at "freeflow" Dartford Crossing

The Dartford Crossing in Kent faced its first major challenge this morning since collection of tolls at the site was removed over the weekend and replaced by a numberplate recognition charging system.

Critics say the charges should be abolished too - and many agree that the only real way to smooth out traffic over the Thames is to build another crossing entirely. But Monday's rush hour largely went without a hitch as "free flow charging" came into effect.

David Johns reports, speaking to businessman Chris Billing, Dartford Crossing Project Manager Nigel Gray, Natalie Chapman from the Freight Transport Association, and Dartford MP Gareth Johnson.


£5,000 fine for ignoring improvement order

A property owner who ignored a court order to improve a house and gardens in Gravesham has been fined £5,000 at a second hearing in Dartford.

Henry Robinson, aged 69, from Dartford, admitted failing to comply with a notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The notice required him to improve the neglected and rarely occupied property in Mulberry Close, Meopham both to the building and the front and rear gardens.

He had been fined £250 last November and the deadline was extended to March this year to do the work.

This time the court fined him £5,000 with £245 costs.

The property has been in disrepair for some time and every opportunity was given to Mr Robinson to make the improvements without the need for formal legal action.

Trial to fine litter droppers

Canterbury city centre- Credit: ITV Meridian

Around a hundred people have been fined since the start of a trial by Canterbury council to fine people for dropping litter.

Officers working for the authority have been patrolling the city centre aswell as Herne Bay, and Whitstable.

The 3 month trial finishes at the end of March.

The council says the majority of fines were for people dropping smoking related litter.