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Communities in South East to benefit from government cash injection

Hastings Borough Council receives £500,000 to improve the seafront and visitor attractions and amenities in Hastings, including bikes to hire, improved signage, information walks and trails and landscaping. It will create 260 jobs.

This is excellent news and really fits with the seafront strategy which we recently agreed. The restoration of the Pier is well underway, White Rock Baths will re-open this year as a BMX centre and we are putting money into refurbishing Bottle Alley and now we have succeeded in attracting an additional £500,000 to improve the seafront further.

– Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader Hastings Borough Council

The Conservation Volunteers receives £360,000 to improve the Solent Way coastal path through Hampshire, develop nearby routes and better signage. This will create 8jobs.

We’re delighted that we’ve been awarded this grant. The Solent Way runs for 60 miles along the Hampshire coast and passes through some beautiful and wonderful locations. We are looking forward to working with our local authority partners and local people, to help improve and highlight this special place and through this create and support local jobs and businesses.

– Paul Forrest-Jameson from the charity

Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, near Brighton, receives £2.3 million to restore the outside area and pools of Saltdean Lido (the UK’s only Grade2* listed lido) to create a unique tourist and leisure destination and community hub. This will create 60 jobs.

Today's news is a massive boost for both the lido and our local economy. We will now be able to restore and refurbish the pools and outside area and provide local residents and visitors with a beautiful place to swim, relax and enjoy being outside.

I would like to thank the volunteer directors of our group who continue to dedicate hours and hours to restore this unique space and also our local MP Simon Kirby who has supported the project from the outset.

– Rebecca Crook, chair of Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company

Gravesham Borough Council receives £1.8 million to refurbish and revitalise Gravesend's Borough Charter Market to transform it into a thriving retail centre and creative hub. Will benefit 40 local businesses and create 35 jobs.

It is very good news that the merit of the council’s initiative to refurbish one of the oldest charter markets in England has been recognised with this award. The council will now be able to progress our plans to rejuvenate and transform the market so it can once again take its place at the very heart of this riverside heritage town.

– Gravesham Borough Council’s leader Cllr John Burden

Worthing Council, West Sussex receives £245,000 to transform a landmark building and establish a Creative Hub, providing affordable workspace for the creative community together with exhibition and retail space. It will be a focus for business support that can both create and sustain new jobs in the creative industries.

Thanet District Council in Kent receives £247,000 to develop tourism along Thanet’s unique coast in Margate, that will draw visitors throughout the year and encourage people to stay. The project will create two full time and two part time jobs.

I am delighted that the council’s funding bid has been successful. This particular funding will enable us to maximise Thanet’s unique assets. The aim of the project is to enable residents and visitors to engage with the coastline and heritage assets, allowing them to take greater pride in and learn more about Thanet. This crucial funding will also resource the creation of a support network to capitalise on the fantastic volunteering spirit of locals and also mean new people are introduced to Thanet’s stunning coastline.

– Leader of Thanet District Council and Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Iris Johnston

Eastbourne Borough Council in East Sussex receives £1.8 million to regenerate the Devonshire Ward in Eastbourne through developing new leisure and business facilities, improving public realm and promoting local artists and providing training. It will create18 jobs.

This is fantastic news for Devonshire. The £1.8m will deliver many projects across the ward,including improvements to Princes Park, refurbished fascias in Seaside Road andpublic realm enhancements to Seahouses Square.

The residents and businesses of Devonshire will benefit greatly from the investment, and the area will draw in even more tourists.

– Councillor Steve Wallis

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Prime Minister: 'I want to take part in TV debates'

Prime Minister David Cameron has told ITV News Meridian that he will take part in televised debates before the General Election.

The Tory party leader said in his interview with Fred Dinenage he was happy to take part as long as his request for the Green Party to be involved in the debate were met.

He made his comments during a visit to a community centre in Bursledon in Hampshire.

Cameron promises to hand out tax cuts

Prime Minister David Cameron gives his speech in Hampshire Credit: ITV Meridian

David Cameron has insisted there is an economic, moral and practical case for tax cuts following the general election, as he used the latest in a series of campaign speeches to highlight Conservative promises to cut £7 billion from income tax.

But the Prime Minister did not spell out how he would pay for the tax giveaway, saying only that the party had a track record of lowering income tax at the same time as reducing Government spending.

And he confirmed plans for a further £30 billion spending cuts if Tories win the May 7 poll, including £13 billion from Whitehall department spending and £12 billion from welfare.

Mr Cameron said: "After the security of a job, the next best thing we can do is to cut people's taxes and let them keep more of their own money to spend as they choose. That's our aim."

Mr Cameron made his announcement during a speech in Bursledon in Hampshire.

Doctor accused of sexually assaulting teenage girl

A doctor has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl who was an out-patient at the hospital where he works.

Jayaram Pai, a consultant paediatrician at the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, who is employed by the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, is charged with three offences of sexual assault on a girl then aged 16, which are alleged to have taken place onFebruary 28 2013.

The charges, authorised this month by the Crown Prosecution Service, follow an investigation by East Sussex child protection detectives. Pai, 45, of The Spinney, Battle, will appear on bail at Hastings Magistrates' Court on February 11.

Man headbutts pub worker in Bournemouth

CCTV image released after pub worker was headbutted Credit: Dorset Police

Officers in Bournemouth are appealing to the public for information following an assault in the town – with CCTV images of the suspect being released.

The incident happened between 11.50pm and 11.58pm on Friday 16 January 2015 in the Brasshouse public house in the town centre.

The victim, who is a member of staff, was headbutted by a male offender and sustained a broken nose and suspected broken cheekbone.

The suspect is described as a tanned white man, approximately five feet seven inches tall, of stocky build with dark hair waxed over to one side, slight stubble and a moustache.

I am appealing to anyone who recognises this man to contact Dorset Police, in confidence, as soon as possible. I would also like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident.

– Police Constable Mark Burton, of Bournemouth police

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Kent cats struggle to find a home after a year of waiting

Two cats at a Kent animal centre are struggling to find a home - because they are shy.

Coral, whois black and white, and Cali, who is white and black, have been at the RSPCA’s Leybourne Animal Centre in West Malling, Kent for more than a year, waiting fora new owner to notice them and take them home.

The three-year-old sisters arrived in December 2013 after being found living in poor conditions in a multi-cat household.

Coral has been waiting for a home for a year Credit: RSPCA
Cali has been waiting for a home for a year Credit: RSPCA

It took a couple of months for Coral and Cali to recover but now they are such lovely animals and would make such wonderful companions for the right person. But because they are a bit timid, people tend to walk past them - it makes me so sad.

People over look them because they don’t come up to the screen and say hello in the same confident way as some of the others. They have been here for more than a year now and so deserve a home of their own.

– Angelina Allingham, cattery supervisor at the centre

Unfortunately this is quite a common problem which we see all over the country. People just don’t give shy cats a chance. People walk through catteries and just don’t notice the timid ones as they pass through because they don’t go up to strangers immediately, unlike more gregariously natured cats, who know how to go up and catch the passer-by’s eye.

It is such a shame as just because a cat is shy in a cattery doesn’t mean they don’t make loyal, sweet-natured and often cheeky and playful companions once they have settled in a home and have got to know their owners. Some might say that this extra bit of a challenge makes the bond between owner and cat all the more unique.

The shy cat won’t go up to any old stranger with their love - it would be especially for you.

– Abbi Moon, rehoming operations manager for the RSPCA

Rise in number of learner drivers trying to cheat their tests by hiring lookalikes

Rising numbers of learner drivers are being caught trying to cheat their tests by hiring lookalikes, according to Government figures.

More than 670 cases of impersonators sitting theory and practical exams have been reported so far in 2014/15, more than a fifth higher than the previous financial year, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said. Andy Rice, the DVSA's head of fraud and integrity, said driving test fraud was putting"innocent road users at risk" and it had "stringent measures" to detect offences.

Figures published by the DVSA following a Freedom of Information request by the Times newspaper have revealed the number of "impersonation investigations" for each financial year over the last decade.

From April to the end of December 2014, there were 677 reported cases, compared with 554 for the whole of 2013/14 and 628 in 2012/13.

Some 188 arrests have been carried out so far in 2014/15, while there were 55 convictions for fraud offences. Thirty seven people have been jailed and 97 driving licences revoked, according to the figures.

The highest number of reported cases in the last 10 years was 816 in 2011/12, but that total could now be surpassed with figures for the last three months of the current financial year still to beadded.

The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly. Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk.

Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly. We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice. Thankfully this type of crime is extremely rare.

– Andy Rice, the DVSA's head of fraud and integrity

Construction continues on Oxford's next railway station

A major milestone in the Chiltern Railways Oxford to London Marylebone rail project has been achieved. The building structure of Oxford Parkway is now complete after construction began at the site at the end of October.

A video released today, shows the project’s engineers working in all weathers to get the county’s first new station in 71 years complete and water right ready for interior work to begin.

Once open, Oxford Parkway will be one of the best located stations in the county due to its positioning adjacent to the existing Water Eaton park and ride site just off the A34 and close to the A44.

Oxford Parkway has been designed as a modern transport hub and is expected to be hugely attractive to those living in north Oxfordshire wanting to escape the congestion of Oxford city centre. The new station will have level access and integrated transport with over 100 cycle spaces, 800+ car parking spaces and access to the many buses serving the park and ride site.

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