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What the Dickens is going on in Rochester?

He's Rochester's most famous resident, and this weekend author Charles Dickens is being remembered along with his famous characters and novels. It's the second day of the Rochester Dickens Festival, an event that attracts thousands of people each year.

Andrea Thomas has been to see the celebrations. spoke to Angela Prodger and Heather Smith.


Sweep Festival gets underway in Rochester

Celebrations are taking place in Rochester to mark the Sweep Festival Credit: ITV Meridian
Celebrations are taking place in Rochester to mark the Sweep Festival Credit: ITV Meridian
Celebrations are taking place in Rochester to mark the Sweep Festival Credit: ITV Meridian
Celebrations are taking place in Rochester to mark the Sweep Festival Credit: ITV Meridian

Rochester celebrates the Sweeps Festival

Fifty teams of Morris dancers will be taking part in the Sweeps Festival in Rochester today. The festival celebrates the traditional holiday of the chimney sweeps on 1st May- the one time of the year the sweeps could leave the soot behind and have some fun.

Rochester Cathedral will also be celebrating by unveiling a Victorian tiled Zodiac floor in the Cathedral - that will normally be covered up.

Kent rail station undergoes £147m revamp

Rochester's rail station will be slid almost 40 metres into the air Credit: Network Rail

Rochester train station will be lifted into the air this Easter as part of a £147m scheme to improve the railway line.

The underpass that will be created will provide a public link between Corporation Street, Rochester and river Medway as well as the station's platforms.

Network Rail’s head of communications for London and the South East, Nicky Hughes, said: “The work we are doing at Rochester will result in a fantastic new station and a more reliable railway – however we also realise that the disruption will not be welcome for passengers travelling over Easter.

"We have to do the work when the railway is less busy, and Easter gives us four full days and nights where we can undertake big engineering projects while affecting the least passengers."


Thief with surname Fagg caught by cigarette DNA

A thief with the surname Fagg has been caught by DNA he left on a cigarette.

Duncan Fagg, 36, left the cigarette in a stolen car he crashed in Higham.

Before the smash he was seen driving over the speed limit.

Officers arrested Fagg who was seen walking on crutches after fleeing the scene.

DNA was obtained from a smoked tobacco roll up was found which detectives were able to place Fagg in the stolen car.

Fagg, of St Matthews Way, Rochester, admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and theft of motor vehicle.

He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and disqualified from driving for three years.

Young offenders forced back to the classroom - Clegg

Nick Clegg and Chris Grayling at Cookham Wood Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Nick Clegg said that as part of his proposals, young offenders would be forced to go back to the classroom to help them develop skills for when they return to the community.

Currently, young offenders spend on average just 12 hours a week in education. That would be more than doubled.

Additionally a pioneering Secure College will be built in the East Midlands.

The fortified school will provide young offenders with strong discipline, while focusing squarely on rehabilitation and education.

'Better education to stop youth offending' - Clegg on visit to Kent

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has been in Kent to unveil radical plans to tackle youth reoffending.

On a joint visit with the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute in Rochester, he said that better education and training would help with rehabilitation.

Currently, almost three quarters of youth offenders return to crime when they are released.

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