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Former staff of a development quango were sent for patchwork, pottery and jewellery-making lessons at taxpayers’ expense, an investigation has found.

Police look into ‘racist’ comments by councillor

A Conservative councillor who warned that a Travellers’ site would end up looking like “My big fat Gypsy cesspit” is to have his comments assessed by police.

Sir Robert Francis: 'Patients and the public shouldn't have to write to one organisation and be told it's not their responsibility'

Painful wait: NHS helpline has 3,000-strong backlog of complaints about GPs and dentists

Officials say problems at the Customer Contact Centre in Redditch have now been resolved

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge linking Essex and Kent across the Thames

£5bn price tag for Thames crossing planned to relieve QEII bridge

One option would pass through undeveloped land that is designated as Green Belt

Nnow and then: The Mucking landfill site (top) is now a nature park, with a visitor centre (bottom)

Where there's Mucking, there's grass: For 50 years an old quarry was a giant rubbish dump. Now it's a thriving nature reserve

An Essex landfill site which once took 15 per cent of all London's rubbish has been ingeniously transformed into a nature reserve. The tip, full to a depth of 30 metres with the capital's garbage, was first covered with earth and then turned into grassland. Here, and in adjacent wetland and wooded areas, hundreds of rare species now thrive.

Motorist jumps to his death from Dartford Bridge leaving traffic delays of up to seven hours

42-year-old man plunged into the River Thames after four hours of negotiations with police failed to talk him down

Georgian terrace houses in Southend On Sea, Essex

Southern comfort as house prices rise beside the seaside

North-South divide reflected in changes to property values, Halifax survey shows

Behind the scenes: Royal Opera House’s High House

The only way is opera! Essex gets a cultural boost

The arts are flourishing in Thurrock, despite the town being voted the most miserable in Britain this year

Osborne commits extra £1 billion for roads and a Tube line extension

An extra £1 billion for roads and a Tube line extension were among transport measures announced today by Chancellor George Osborne.

'Completely unacceptable': Essex hospital warned by health regulator over care of children

Out of date medicines were found by the Care Quality Commission inspectors - a visit triggered by several serious clinical incidents including the death of a little girl following a suspected drug error

Home repossession hotspots revealed

Two new reports reveal England's worst-hit regions

M25 widening work is finally completed

Two widening schemes on Britain's busiest motorway were completed today after three years of work.

Coryton in doubt as state aid is denied

The future of the financially stricken Coryton refinery in Essex, which supplies around 20 per cent of London and the South-east's fuel, was in further doubt yesterday as it emerged the Government will not keep it alive with state aid.

Campaigners stage protest to save Coryton refinery in Essex

Campaigners trying to save jobs at an oil refinery have staged a protest amid warnings that its closure could see more than £100 million drained from the economy.

Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing toll charges to rise

A river crossing toll charge on the UK's busiest motorway is to rise in the autumn, the Government announced today.

North West polls planned in EU referendum push

Campaigners for a national referendum on UK membership of the European Union are to stage three polls in North West constituencies, it was announced today.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss