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£150k grant for Heritage Open Days across the South

2016 kicked off to a great start for Heritage Open Days which has received an award of £150,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery.

This is good news for the South East, which ranked top as the busiest region for organising free-to-access events over the Heritage Open Days weekend in 2015.

The South East ranks as the busiest region in the country for the number of events organised. Surrey comes top, with Oxfordshire 5th and Kent 7th on the ratings list for properties open and free to access activities.

In Oxfordshire Heritage Open Days have included a narrow boat on the Oxford Canal, the Fire Station in Oxford alongside a number of its famous colleges.

Heritage Open Days in Surrey have included the Air Raid Shelters in Dorking, the Ballet Boyz Dance Studio in Kingston upon Thames and Durdans Riding School in Epsom.

Festival organisers in Kent have included the Archbishops Palace in Maidstone and the Grand Shaft Staircase in Dover.

“Heritage Open Days allows us to reach beyond our boundaries to help people, families and communities form connections with their local heritage and look after the places they love. In 2015, the festival enabled 3.4 million people from across Great Britain to discover their local history, architecture and culture, with a record 2 million sampling the four-day festival for the first time. This kind of impact would not be possible without the generous support we receive from players.”

– Heritage Open Days Manager, Katja Condy

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Cheryl James's father: Police 'assumed suicide'

Private Cheryl James was one of four recruits to die at Deepcut over a seven-year period. Credit: Family handout

The father of a a teenage soldier found dead at an army barracks has told an inquest there had been an "assumption of suicide" by the police.

Private Cheryl James, 18, was discovered with a fatal bullet wound at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in November 1995.

It felt cursory. It felt rushed. They rang to say they were reopening the investigation into my daughter's death. They didn't tell me they were lumping it together with Sean Benton's death.

– Mr James told the inquest

John Beggs QC, representing Surrey Police, said at the time the force was also investigating the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the M25 rapist.

Mr James told the court he had voiced concerns that Surrey Police's resources were "stretched" but he was told they were not.

Mr Beggs said three people had come forward to say Pte James had spoken to them about shooting herself, including one who claimed she had said: "The only way to get out of the army is to put a gun to your head."

Mr James said the comments could possibly be explained by "bravado".

Lawyers for Pte James's family had called for the inquest to be delayed to allow "important" forensic evidence to be heard before other witnesses were called.

The inquest, which is expected to last seven weeks, was adjourned until Tuesday.

King Alfred Leisure Centre remains closed after storm Imogen damages roof

King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove had to be closed this morning after storm Imogen damaged the roof. Parts of the Promenade have also been cordoned off. Residents are being asked to stay away from the immediate area.

“The impact of Storm Imogen on the King Alfred Leisure Centre building continues to be assessed. The strong winds damaged the felted roof covering the west end of the swimming pools. The dislodged felt is a potential hazard if blown from the roof, which is why the surrounding area is cordoned off. The damaged felt will be removed as soon as the weather allows safe access to work on the roof. Further investigation is required to determine the full extent of the damage and assess what repairs are required. We are working with the on-site Freedom Leisure team and the Police as well as seeking advice from relevant experts to make sure the appropriate action is taken as soon as possible. We hope to be able to provide more information in the morning.”

– Brighton and Hove City Council
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