Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals could soon become one under plans to merge.
Southend: Record Rise In House Prices
Southend has recorded the biggest rise in house prices among major UK towns and cities over the past year.
According to research by Halifax the average selling price in the seaside resort was 14.8% higher than the previous year, rising to £198,418 by the end of 2012, compared with an improvement of 2.1% on average across the whole of Essex.
Basingstoke in Hampshire experienced the second biggest rise in house prices with a 14.7% gain, while three more towns within commuting distance of London - Rochester, St Albans and Dartford - make up the top five.
The majority of the worst performers are outside southern England, with Craigavon in County Armagh down 18.4% and Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, off 12.5%.
Nine of the 10 towns which saw the biggest declines in prices are outside the South, reflecting the continued regional divide in the property market.
Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: 'Nationally, conditions in the housing market have been largely unchanged over the past 12 months with little overall movement in either house prices or sales for the second consecutive year.
'This picture, however, conceals considerable local differences.'
He expects continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013, with the North/South divide in price performance likely to persist next year.
Mr Ellis said: 'House prices are expected to be strongest in London and the South East as this part of the country performs best in economic terms.'
Two fairground workers have pleaded not guilty to charges they face over the death of a school girl on a bouncy castle in Essex.
An aircraft hangar has been damaged in a blaze at Southend Airport.
Residents and businesses are being encouraged to tell Essex County Council whether they can access superfast broadband.
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