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Southend house prices see sharpest rise in 2012

House prices in Southend in Essex recorded the biggest rise among major UK towns and cities over the past year, according to research by Halifax.

The average selling price in the seaside resort was 14.8% higher than the previous year.

Basingstoke in Hampshire - and the London commuter towns of Rochester, St Albans and Dartford - made up the rest of the top five.

Craigavon in County Armagh recorded the largest drop - down by 18.4% - while nine of the bottom ten were all outside the South.

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Fears for missing swimmer after clothes found on beach

Police are attempting to contact the family of a 52-year-old man who is believed to be missing at sea after his clothes were found on a beach.

The man went missing off the coast of Southend. Picture from 2007. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive

An RAF helicopter, two lifeboats and a police boat were deployed after members of the public spotted a man in difficulty in the water off the coast of Southend, Essex, at 11.30am yesterday. Clothing and personal items were found nearby.

A Coastguard spokesman said: "After a comprehensive search nothing was found and units were stood down."

Police say the items found belong to a 52-year-old man from London and officers are trying to locate his next of kin. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Southend on 101.