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Developer Crest Nicholson withdraws from King Alfred site

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A developer has withdrawn from an “ambitious” multimillion-pound scheme for hundreds of flats and a leisure centre in Hove.

Crest Nicholson cited “uncertain times” as the reason for shelving plans for a £50m sports centre and 565 flats at the site of the 1930s King Alfred Centre.

Brighton and Hove City Council has worked with the company since 2016, when it won the development bid.

A council spokesman said work was under way to find an alternative option.

Chris Tinker, interim chief executive of Crest Nicholson, said it was a “difficult decision to withdraw,” but “the ambition of the scheme in these uncertain times is too great.”

“It has become a more complicated project than originally envisaged in terms of both planning and delivery.”

He said there had been a series of “challenges and obstacles” and with values falling it was not possible to support the provision of any affordable housing and still remain viable.

A total of £23m of public money – £15m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund and £8m from Brighton and Hove City Council – was approved to assist the developer in building the project, which includes affordable flats.

Council leader Nancy Platts said: “We appreciate the difficulties and complexities of the project, and appreciate too the efforts made by Crest Nicholson, but the council makes no apologies for pressing the developer to deliver the scheme it selected in 2016.

“Finding a viable alternative will be our utmost priority and this will include consulting with the local community who have been so patiently awaiting this development.”

An update on the next steps for the King Alfred project will be presented to the Policy and Resources Committee in the autumn.

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T20 Blast: Essex and Hampshire record needed wins

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Ravi Bopara

Essex recorded an exciting T20 Blast victory at South Group leaders Sussex, while Hampshire cruised past Middlesex.

The visitors hit 168-5 in their 20 overs, with Dan Lawrence (59*) and Ravi Bopara (45) both hitting good scores.

The hosts were reduced to 25-3 in the fourth over before David Weise (66) got them back in contention, only for them to fall nine runs short.

Meanwhile, Hampshire reached Middlesex’s 128 inside 15 overs to boost their quarter-final prospects.

The hosts never really got going, with England One-Day skipper Eoin Morgan making 20 from 17 balls before being caught by James Fuller off the bowling of Liam Dawson.

James Vince’s 69 from 42 balls, including 11 fours, helped the visitors to a fourth win of the group stage.

Despite slipping to a fourth defeat of the group stage, Middlesex remain third with three games to play.

Sharks slip to surprise defeat

Sussex had only lost once in the T20 Blast this season prior to Thursday’s defeat.

Bopara and Lawrence, who had extended his contract with the county earlier on Thursday, batted excellently to move Essex from 84-4 to 166-5 before the former was caught brilliantly on the boundary by Chris Jordan in the final over.

Weise looked to be steering Sussex to what had seemed like an unlikely win but when he was trapped lbw by a slower ball from Simon Harmer (2-19) their hopes faded and were all but gone when Jordan (19) was caught by Bopara off the bowling of Mohammad Amir (4-29).

Essex visit Hampshire on Sunday in a game that neither side can afford to lose if they are to progress.

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Channel migrants: Children among group on Sussex beach

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Twenty-four migrants – including four children – were detained by police after landing on a Sussex beach.

The group, who travelled by boat to Winchelsea Beach, were handed over to Border Force, Sussex Police said.

A further two boats carrying a total of 19 adults, ten children and a baby were picked up by French authorities attempting to cross the Channel.

At least 869 people, including more than 80 children, have crossed the Channel in small boats this year.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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Sussex company bookkeeper jailed for £117k fraud

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A woman who stole nearly £117,000 from a business has been jailed.

Lynn Boakes was hired as a bookkeeper at a steel company in West Sussex in 2013 and was responsible for the payroll.

The 47-year-old began taking regular sick days towards the end of 2016 despite posts on social media showing her shopping or on holiday.

A judge at Hove Crown Court jailed Boakes, of Sea Lane, Pagham, for three years.

The company’s director began searching archive payroll documents and discovered that between October 2014 and April 2017 Boakes overpaid herself by a total of £13,462.

Further investigation discovered she had also diverted £103,450.26 of her employer’s funds into her personal bank account that had been disguised by using a fake company name.

Boakes was immediately suspended from the company, the director informed Sussex Police and her work computer was seized.

On this computer a job reference for a job application for her husband was found.

The reference falsely stated David Boakes, 54, had worked for the steel company for two years and it had been signed by a fake employee ‘Janet Young’ – Boakes’s actual middle and maiden names.

Boakes pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud in July while her husband admitted one charge of fraud and was given a conditional discharge.

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