'Record numbers' living with HIV

A record number of people in the UK are living with HIV, new figures show, but a quarter of people don't realise they've been infected.

Meridian region on Flood Alert

A total of nine Flood Warnings are in place across the Meridian region and more then 40 areas are on Flood Alert.

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Housing shortage: calls for release of green-field land

A report by planning consultants is warning of a shortage of 20,000 homes in the South East in the next five years.

Comparing land freed by councils with predicted demand, it estimates a shortfall of 8,000 homes in Kent, just 260 in East Sussex but 12,500 in West Sussex.

John Ryall spoke to Ryan Johnson of Turley Associates and Richard Knox-Johnston, chairman of CPRE Protect Kent.

Half a million pounds of cocaine seized

Border Force officers are investigating after approximately five kilos of cocaine was seized at the Channel Tunnel entrance in France.

The drugs, with an estimated street value of £500,000, were discovered on Friday when officers stopped a Dutch-registered lorry.

The lorry and its load of machinery were searched and officers found the drugs in a fridge in the vehicle’s cab.

David Perry, 32, from Ashford in Kent appeared via video link at Canterbury Magistrates Court yesterday, charged with the attempted importation.

He pleaded guilty and was remanded in custody. He will next appear at Canterbury Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.

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Council tax freeze for Essex

Essex County Council plans to freeze its share of the council tax for the third successive year.

Proposals, which need to be agreed by full council next month, would see investments in school places, vulnerable welfare and economic growth, while also seeking to make £55 million in savings.

Like most councils we are receiving less Government funding this year compared to last year. We do not know the full impact yet as the complex nature of the new Government funding approach means we are still waiting on clarification on some of the final figures.

“Despite this I am delighted we have been able to develop recommendations which - while identifying savings - continue to ensure we provide quality, value for money services, make investments in key areas, and deliver a freeze in our share of the council tax for the third successive year."

– Cllr David Finch, deputy leader

Shock failure hands Alex Thomson third place

Alex Thomson after crossing the starting line of the Vendee Globe in November 2012 Credit: PA

Gosport based sailor Alex Thomson has moved into third place in the Vendee Global yacht race.

It came after the competitor he was trailing, Jean-Pierre Dick, lost his keel with just over 2,000 of the 28,000 mile race left. Until that point, Dick was continuing to close on the front two and still had faint hopes of catching them.

Family tribute to crash victim

Stuart Arnott Credit: Hampshire Police

The family of Stuart Arnott, who died in a car crash at Eversley Cross near Yateley in Hampshire on Saturday, have released a tribute.

Mr Arnott, 63, from Highgate Road, Southlake, Reading, was driving his black Honda on the A327 when, for reasons so far unknown, he left the road and hit a tree.

The collision happened shortly before midnight and he died at the scene.

In a statement, Mr Arnott’s family said: “We are completely devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our father Stuart Arnott.

“He will be sadly missed by all the family and those that knew him. He was a wonderful father, grandfather and brother. Rest in peace Dad."

Police are appealing for anyone who saw the collision or the vehicle prior to it to contact PC Jonathan Peace at Whitchurch Roads Policing Unit on 101.

Memorial for murdered schoolgirl

Claire Tiltman Credit: PA

A memorial service is to be held for a schoolgirl who was murdered in Kent twenty years ago.

Claire Tiltman was attacked and killed in an alleyway in Greenhithe. Today would have been her 36th birthday.

On Friday, Claire's former school friends and police will hold a candle lit walk followed by a church service. No-one has been brought to justice for the teenager's murder.

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Man jailed after sending child sex pictures to prisoner

Gary Rockford Credit: Kent Police

A man who abused a girl and sent indecent images of a child to a man serving a life sentence in prison has been jailed.

Gary Rockford, 29, formerly of Sanspareil Avenue, Minster, was arrested after prison officers in Staffordshire seized a mobile phone from a serving prisoner.

The phone was found to contain indecent images of children that had been sent by Rockford.

He was arrested at his home address on the Isle of Sheppey and further investigation uncovered that he had also abused an 8 year-old girl, and broadcast the abuse on the internet in exchange for money.

He was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court to 10 years in jail. He pleaded guilty to possession of indecent images, two counts of distributing indecent images, taking indecent images of children, three counts of sexual assault of a child and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Judge Carey said: "It beggars belief that a situation could be created as sordid as this: a serving prisoner in his cell viewing material created and supplied by you, of a child being sexually abused, by you. This was gross criminal offending.

"The most serious of the offending was the gross depravity on a web cam."

Efit issued after sex assault

Do you recognise this man? Credit: Kent Police

Police have released this image of a man they want to speak to in connection with a sexual assault in Gravesend.

Police were called to the incident at 11.10pm on December 21st, when it was reported that a woman was walking home from Gravesend train station and felt she was being followed.

She turned to confront the man who touched her inappropriately before running off.

Anyone with information is asked to call DC Richard Debnam or Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Nine arrested for burglary - police statement

Nine burglary suspects have been arrested and detained at Folkestone Police Station since January 1st following offences in Ashford, Folkestone and the Romney Marsh.

The suspects include two teenage boys aged 15 and 16 and a man who was sentenced to 180 days in prison just 48 hours after breaking into a shop in Ashford.

Officers say they will continue to target burglars and other criminals and are encouraging residents to work with them to keep the area safe.

Man charged after travel agent robberies

A man has been charged following a series of robberies at travel agents across Kent and Sussex.

Luis Christo, 20, of Lomley House, Tulse Hill, London was arrested in the early hours of New Year's Eve as he boarded a plane to Lisbon at Gatwick airport.

He has been charged with four counts of robbery and four counts of possessing a firearm whilst committing an offence.

Travellers checks were stolen in the raids in Barnet, Sandwich, Hythe and Hove last month.

Christo has been remanded in custody until Wednesday next week.

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