News

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Out of date medicines were found by the Care Quality Commission inspectors - a visit triggered by several serious clinical incidents including the death of a little girl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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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'