this is bbc news. i'm lukwesa burak. the headlines at 7:00pm. a shipping company awarded a multi—million pound contract to move goods if there's a no—deal brexit has no trading record and no significant assets. the uk and france step upjoint patrols and increase surveillance — to tackle a rise in the number of migrants trying to reach britain in small boats. violence, and claims of vote rigging, as the polls close in bangladesh's general election. manchester city get back to winning ways with a 3—1win at southampton. that and the rest of the day's sport in sportsday in half an hour. and at 7:45, the travel show team round—up their best destinations of 2018. good evening and
welcome to bbc news. the department for transport has defended its decision to award a contract for nearly £14 million to a shipping company with no trading record as part of its preparations for a possible no—deal brexit. seaborne freight has been contracted to provide ferry services carrying goods vehicles from ramsgate to ostend. a bbc investigation has established that the company has never run a ferry service, and has no significant assets. our business correspondent, joe miller reports. these are the large ferries that will carry thousands of lorries across the channel to ease congestion at dover in the event of a no—deal brexit as soon as march. but while two large international shipping firms have been awarded contracts to provide extra crossings at locations like portsmouth and plymouth, one british business
has been handed millions of pounds by the department for transport on the promise of reviving this terminal with a regular route to belgium. ramsgate‘s commercial port has been dormant for the best part of five years. currently, no large ferries depart from here but the government has given almost £14 million to a firm called seaborne freight, which has never sailed a vessel and has no significant assets to get a regular service up and running injust three months. as of a couple of months ago, the company's total share capital was no more than £66. and this is seaborne freight‘s website, which says it serves the needs of cross—channel freight traffic and claims that freight ferry services operate between ramsgate and ostend even though there is, as yet, no such service in operation. one local councillor told me he believes seaborne is in no position to provide any service.
as a conservative i feel a shell company which is a company that exists just on paper is a complete waste of money of £14 million of taxpayers‘ money to provide what will be an unsustainable service across the channel here at ramsgate, £14 million. the department for transport acknowledges seaborne freight, which was set up by seasoned shipping industry figures, is just a start up but insists it was carefully vetted and the company's chief executive is adamant that it will have ships to provide a service in time for brexit day on 29th of march. but when we asked them to name the vessels it would use on the route the company declined to do so. a campaigner who opposes the use of ramsgate as a commercial port had a simple question in response. if you have ships you can name them but everybody in the industry does not believe seaborne freight has any access to ships at the moment. the government hopes it won't have to resort to contingency plans. it prefers a negotiated exit from the eu. but regardless of whether seaborne
freight‘s services are ever needed it could keep some taxpayers‘ money. another example, critics say, the failure to plan properly for a no—deal brexit. and joe miller also explained why seaborne have been given the contract by the government. we know that for some time the government believed in the event of a no—deal brexit it would need additional capacity at ports other than dover to relieve traffic down to the coast and to get vital supplies through. but only in the last few weeks has it started awarding contracts to shipping firms to get that capacity. two international firms with existing fleets got big contracts and one small british firm without any existing vessels. it is fair to say that chris grayling's department of transport probably didn't want us to know anything about these contracts. they were sneaked onto
a government portal on christmas eve and we only found out about them because a data firm alerted us. it is also worth noting that if the government hadn't given a contract to the small british firm worth £14 million, that other contracts would have gone to french and danish firms and we would be in a position where it was two eu firms who were benefiting from a no—deal brexit. joe miller in ramsgate. and we'll find out how this story — and many others — are covered in tomorrow's front pages at 10:30 and 11:30pm this evening in the papers. our guests joining us tonight are entertainment journalist and broadcaster caroline frost and parliamentary journalist, tony grew. the home secretary has said britain and france will step—up action to deal with the growing number of migrants crossing the channel in small boats. sajid javid, who's returned early from his christmas break, said he'd discussed the situation with his french counterpart. more than 200 migrants have made
the journey in the past two months. today, six iranian men were found at kingsdown in kent. from there, alexandra mackenzie reports. cold, wet and exhausted, iranian nationals on a beach in kent. they arrived on an inflatable boat this morning. they received medical assessments and were questioned by immigration officials. this afternoon the beach was busy with locals. it is fairly calm today, it is quite mild, but that's just not a crossing that people should be making. the home secretary has spoken to france's interior minister. in a statement he said... these are the shores that migrants are desperate to reach.
but what happens next depends partly on how the problem is tackled across the water in france. here in dunkirk, volunteers help migrants. it is thought government attempts to clear camps has led to organised crime gangs encouraging many to leave france. in boulogne, locals say boats have been stolen to aid these journeys. translation: here it is very easy to get a boat to go to england. to steal a boat is easier to steal than a car. if you use a professional fishing vote the maritime authorities think it is a fishingman going fishing. back in kent the coastguard helicopter surveys the shoreline, as many other migrants are expected to risk their lives on this perilous journey. alexandra mackenzie, bbc news, kingsdown. our political correspondent alex forsyth spoke to us
from outside the home office. she said sajid javid was trying to prove he "has got a grip" on the situation. there has been criticism, not least from within the conservative party about how the home office has handled this. claims it hasn't enough to deter people from making the crossing, and that is why the home secretary is travelling back to the uk early. he's had that phone call with the french interior minister today which i'm told was significant and productive. talk about stepping up patrols and surveillance. and i understand tomorrow he will chair a meeting of officials here at the home office to try and work out an action plan. he's trying to prove he has got a grip. but some have pointed out that while the home secretary has declared this a major incident, in the context of the global refugee crisis, the numbers coming to the uk are relatively small, so some are warning sajid javid not to be tough in proving he's on top of things. the labour leaderjeremy corbyn tweeted this evening saying "we have a duty to reach out
the hand of humanity, support and friendship to people in danger who are seeking safety." a 21—year—old man has died, following an incident outside a house in wigan. officers were called by the ambulance service shortly after 9.30 on friday evening, following reports a man had been assaulted on bickershaw lane in abram. william livesley was taken to hospital but died from his injuries yesterday. police are questioning a 57—year—old man. a man who died after a minibus overturned in the scottish borders yesterday has been named by police. rossjones barker was 59 and from east lothian. six other men are in hospital with serious injuries. the president of the european commission, jean—claude juncker, has urged britain to get its act together, and stop expecting the eu to solve its problems over brexit. the comments come as the senior brexiteer minister, liam fox, said the chances of britain leaving the eu will only be 50—50,
if mps reject the prime minister's brexit deal. he said if the deal is rejected, that "would shatter the bond of trust between the electorate and parliament". a british couple whose son was murdered by his chinese wife have won custody of one of their grandchildren after a long legal battle. ian and linda simpson are due to return to the uk later this week, after reaching a deal during a court hearing over christmas in rural china. but they've been forced to leave their other grandchild behind. robin brant in shanghai has the latest on the family's struggle. they have been campaigning for almost two years now, since their son, michael, was murdered by weiwei fu, who was his wife at the time and the mother of the children. she stabbed him to death in an attack in an apartment here in shanghai. the simpsons have been trying
to get custody of the grandchildren, they've been fighting a long legal battle, that has invovled mps, the government here, lawyers and chinese officials, as well. that all came to a head about ten days ago, when a court hearing took place. they face the unimaginable decision of having to either take just one of the grandchildren, alice, which is what the chinese grandparents were offering, and the chinese courts supported that, or neither of them. they have struck a deal to take alice back to the uk with them but their grandson, jack, who is a little older, will stay here in china. they say their campaign goes on to have both children in the uk. for now, this is progress of sorts, for this family who have been through the awful trauma of first, losing their son, who was murdered, and then fighting for custody of their grandchildren. they have alice and they're waiting for some paperwork here in shanghai.
you can only begin to imagine how dreadful that decision must have been, when it came to what was on the table. opposition parties in bangladesh say they will reject the outcome of today's election, which has been marred by accusations of vote rigging, and violence which has left 18 people dead. early results suggest the prime minister, sheikh hasina, will win a third successive term. her supporters praise her for turning the country into one of asia's fastest growing economies but critics say her government is corrupt and repressive. our correspondent yogita laymay is in the capital, dhaka. her report does contain some flashing images. clashes outside a polling centre in dhaka. they spot a reporter and try to stop him from filming. it was just one of the many violent incidents in bangladesh on election day. others were more deadly. but in large parts, polling
did go off peacefully. this indoor basketball court was the women's section of a voting booth for the day. after people had cast their ballots, their fingers were marked with ink. bangladesh's prime minister sheikh hasina has been in powerfor ten years but she is confident she will be back. "i firmly believe we will win the election", she says. she's been credited with bringing development to the country and tackling islamist militancy. but her government has also been accused of cracking down on the opposition. two days before the polls, i asked her to respond. look, all the allegations they are making but they couldn't prove it. on the one hand they are placing allegations and on the other hand they are attacking our party workers and leaders. the opposition is calling the election a farce. people have been killed, people are being arrested, candidates have been arrested.
it is unprecedented. unprecedented. unheard of, could not be dreamt of. these are workers from prime minister sheikh hasina's awami league standing outside a polling booth and this is something we have seen across the city of dhaka today. behind me the political posters you can see are also from the same party. in contrast to the presence of the opposition on the streets is really hard to find. that left people split on whether they wanted to participate. translation: the process was ok. i was a bit worried that my vote might have been stolen but i did get to vote. translation: all the parties did not get equal opportunities to campaign. that is why i did not cast my vote. in one part of bangladesh, the bbc saw ballot boxes which had been filled even before polling began. now those and all the other boxes are being opened and counted. it is widely expected that prime minister sheikh hasina will win but it will be a controversial victory. polls have closed in
the presidential election in the democratic republic of congo. it could result in the first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960. in some places the new electronic voting machines had failed to work, causing long queues. some polling stations remained open after the scheduled closing time. the final result is expected be announced in a week's time. the bbc‘s salim kikeke is in the capital kinshasa and explained why the election, which was due to take place a couple of years ago, had been delayed. in 2016, presidentjoseph kabila said the country is not ready. that was when he was due to stand down and for the country to elect a new president. so they were delayed for two years while president kabila said they were finding their feet to make sure they can afford these
elections, and so the elections were scheduled for this year. so they were delayed for two years. when i spoke to president joseph kabila recently, even in a statement yesterday before the polls, he said he feels very pleased that they've managed to organise the elections without any foreign assistance. so the delay did make many people frustrated but people have been waiting for this big day for quite a long time and people stayed patient and we've seen today that so many people came out to vote. the headlines on bbc news. the government has defended its decision to award a £14 million contract to a shipping company with no trading record as part of its preparations for a possible no—deal brexit. britain and france have agreed
to implement what they're calling an "enhanced action plan" to prevent migrants crossing the english channel on small boats. votes are being counted in the general election in bangladesh, which has been marred by violence and allegations of ballot—rigging. a powerful storm in the philippines has killed at least 22 people. the philippine disaster relief agency said a tropical cyclone which moved through the eastern philippines' visayas and bicol regions had caused widespread landslides and flooding. local media say dozens of other people are missing or trapped by landslides. a man credited with saving the lives of about 350 jewish children during the second world war has died, aged 108. george loinger would take the children to play football on a pitch near the border
with neutral switzerland — where they'd slip through an unguarded fence to safety. the resistance hero was later awarded the french military cross, and the holocaust memorial foundation described him as an "exceptional man". the health secretary, matt hancock, has set out plans to provide better support for mothers and babies in england to try to halve the number of stillbirths, and maternal and infant deaths by 2025. he said the measures would make the nhs the best place in the world to give birth. our health correspondent smitha mundasad reports. more than 646,000 babies were born in england, last year. and the vast majority of new arrivals were delivered safe and well. but, tragically, this is not always the case. in 2017, there were
2,679 stillbirths. and last year, 1,857 babies died in their first month of life. there have been steady improvements in the last few years. but there are concerns that england's maternity services lag behind some other european countries. the health secretary's ambition is to make england the best place to give birth in the world. there's a whole package of safety measures around maternity care to make sure that we have the right number of midwives. we will have 3,000 more midwives. we've got record midwives in training at the moment. and we want to make sure that the very best care that we see in the best hospitals is replicated right across the country. the new measures include more specialist neonatal staff to care for newborns. and more cots in intensive care. more mothers will get physiotherapy after childbirth.
and child health records, known by many as the red book, will soon be available on smartphones, making it easier to share information between parents, carers and the nhs. the hope is these measures will go some way to helping the nhs save an additional 4,000 lives by 2025. but some will argue that much more needs to be done to keep both mothers and babies safe. smitha mundasad, bbc news. councils in england should be forced to consult local communities before cutting down trees, according to proposals from the environment secretary michael gove. it follows three years of protests in sheffield, where more than 5,000 trees were chopped down and replaced. mr gove says it's right that residents have a say. the labour mp lucy powell has accused private schools of cheating the exam system — to improve their results — by entering pupils for international gcses.
the exams have been criticised as less rigorous than the standard exams taken by most state school pupils. in a statement, the department for education said "the international gcses had not been through the same approval and quality control process as the new gold standard gcses, which is why they are no longer recognised in school performance tables. " rail services on some of the country's busiest routes are likely to be disrupted by another strike tomorrow, in the long—running dispute about the role of guards on trains. members of the rail, maritime and transport union on south western railway are due to walk out for 24 hours, causing services to be reduced. tributes have been paid to the much—loved actress dame june whitfield, who's died at the age of 93. the actresses jennifer saunders and joanna lumley — who starred alongside damejune in the hit comedy drama
absolutely fabulous — say she became ‘a dearfriend'. here's our arts correspondent david sillito. # wheels on fire # rolling down the road...# june whitfield had been part of british comedy for more than 40 years when she was cast in absolutely fabulous. inside of me, inside of me there is a thin personjust screaming to get out. just the one, dear? laughter paying tribute, jennifer saunders said, "it's so tremendously sad to lose june. "she became a dearfriend. "she lived and worked with an extraordinary grace." joanna lumley said, "i am heartbroken to lose such a "darling friend, and shall never forget her sensational talent, "humour and her generosity." julia sawalha thanked her for teaching her the craft of comedy. they were skills learned at rada and on the set of one of the biggest radio shows of the ‘50s, take it from here.
ooh, ron! her life after that reads like a who's who of the greatest names of comedy. oh, i see you wish to become a blood donor? i certainly do. tony hancock. benny hill. frankie howerd. and a 20—year partnership with terry scott. i'm talking about food. what about eating out? what about the garage? oh, i'd much prefer a restaurant. when she became damejune whitfield, it was in honour of more than 1,300 appearances on tv, radio and film. as the writer denis norden once said, it was a mystery how anyone could do a comedy show without june whitfield. from tuition fees, technical education, apprenticeships, school funding, to mental health in young people, 2019 is set to be an interesting year in education. our education branwen jefferies has been looking ahead our education correspondent branwen
jefferies has been looking ahead at some of the stories that could dominant the year. it is going to be an interesting and busy year about education. the government is trying to work out what to do about tuition fees. an independent panel is looking into what we should do after the age of 18 and they are due to report back in february. we know one of the ideas they are considering is variable to wish on fees. different fees for different types of courses. what they say about technical and vocational education could be just as important. many colleges are also struggling with their finances. the government might have to act on apprenticeships. their new apprenticeships. their new apprenticeship levy isn't working out as expected. the number of
apprenticeships starts has fallen by one third and the budget is already overspent. money, money, money, is also what schools are worrying about. the government says school spending in england is at its highest level ever. many head teachers say it doesn't feel like that on the ground. you can expect them to continue campaigning. pa rents of them to continue campaigning. parents of children with special needs or disabilities also face challenges. the government has just given an extra £250 million over the next two years to councils in england. but councils say that doesn't go far enough, and parents are beginning to bring court challenges. and mental health and well—being of young people is also top of the list for many parents and also for schools. there is growing concern about the upper dimeck of anxiety and self—harm. you can expect to hear more about what
schools can or should be doing about building resilience in young people —— about the growing epidemic of anxiety. the favourite is one of the leading contenders at the forthcoming awards season. the film is set in the early 18th century, when a frail queen anne, played by olivia colman, occupies the throne. here's our entertainment correspondent lizo mzimba. dearest queen, how goes the kingdom? this oscar—tipped comedy—drama follows the behind—the—scenes manoeuvring as everyone tries to win favour with an eccentric queen. look at me! how dare you?! close your eyes! playing two of the scheming characters, a pair of britain's brightest young stars — joe alwyn and nicholas hoult. harley's a politician who's playing the chess game of the court, essentially, and trying to get to the queen's ear, because then he knows he can gain what he wants in that world.
so, yeah, he's very manipulative. i'm not the brightest character. i think i'm a bit of an airhead, and i run around lustfully after abigail, who emma plays. there's this kind of cat—and—mouse power play between the two of them in the scenes that they're together, and she uses him. he has some status, and she uses him for that. although set in the 18th century, the story explores power and relationships in a way that still has a relevance today. go back to your rooms. thank you. making these things isn't — when you're kind of inside the bubble of it, it isn't something you're necessarily aware of. but when it comes out, especially in the current climate, there are comparisons — both in terms of politics, or even gender politics. he's referring to the fact that, unusually for hollywood, the three most powerful characters are all women — a refreshing and significant change to the kind of films the cast are used to being offered.
sometimes, you read scripts, and i've noticed it before, where you read it and you go, that's not a well—developed female character, or it's trying to be put into an archetype that doesn't exist. so, yes, it's important for it to reflect what's happening in society, definitely. may i exhort the chamber to roar a mighty hurrah for her majesty in her brilliant decision not to raise the land tax? hurrah! the film is overflowing with british talent, something often seen as a quality mark to us audiences. it's the accent! he laughs. i think we're hard—working, i think that's something about it, and also, we love what we do. i think sometimes — nearly all the brits that i know are in it for the right reasons. you know, so that's a big thing for it. but, yeah, also the accent. it has already been recognised at award ceremonies here and in the us, and if the favourite ends up living up to its name at next year's academy awards, few will be surprised. lizo mzimba, bbc news. two american college football fans
were given a shock at a game in texas when a bald eagle landed in the crowd. the bird, called clark, was apparently meant to fly around the stadium during the national anthem, but instead — he decided to land on a fan's shoulder. another spectator was then more inviting, holding out his arm for him to perch on. 90,000 people were at the play—off semi—final between notre dame fighting irish and the clemson tigers. notre dame fans had hoped it was a good omen — but sadly for them — clemson still beat them 30—3. now it's time for a look at the weather with sarah keith lucas. the final weekend of 2018 has been pretty dry, fairly cloudy and mild. this was the serene scene as the
sunsetin this was the serene scene as the sunset in hereford, taken by one of oui’ sunset in hereford, taken by one of our weather watchers. we have some clear spells around tonight but high pressure with light wind means we may see some low cloud and some mist and fog patches, especially in the south. you can see the yellow colours here. the blue colours to the north will become more of a feature as we head through the first week of 2019. tonight we have variable cloud, clear spells in the east. some mist and fog especially in the south with lighter wind but for most of us, a frost free nights with temperatures around 5—9. first thing monday, new year's eve, tomorrow, another largely cloudy and grey day but there will be some sunshine breaking through, especially in eastern scotland. northern ireland seem brighter