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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Out of date medicines were found by the Care Quality Commission inspectors - a visit triggered by several serious clinical incidents including the death of a little girl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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On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
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Panama
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

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Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
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‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week