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Essex Chronicle stories feed from registered users of the site and Northcliffe Media editorial

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    A grandmother died after collapsing onto the hob of an oven while she cooked pasta at her home in Chelmsford, an inquest heard.

    Italian expat Valeria Bohannan, 81, ran out of her house in Skerry Rise, Broomfield, with her fleece and nightdress engulfed in flames on May 25 last year.

    Despite the best efforts of neighbours, who doused her with buckets of water, she suffered 70 per cent burns and died at Broomfield Hospital's burns unit on May 30.

    At Essex Coroner's Court yesterday (August 19), assistant deputy coroner Eleanor McGann said: "What an incredibly tragic accident for quite an elderly lady who nevertheless was leading an independent life."

    The court heard Mrs Bohannan collapsed onto the hob after feeling dizzy. She managed to rip off her fleece but not her nylon night dress.

    She was able to explain to fire officers what had happened before being admitted to hospital. The coroner's office said the inquest hearing was severely delayed while awaiting a fire accident and emergency report.

    Mrs Bohannan, described by neighbours last year as a "brilliant" and "lovely" woman, leaves behind family including daughter Fiona Grant.

    Elderly Broomfield woman Valerie Bohannon's kitchen fire death was an accident, coroner rules

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    A 'highly skilled' hazardous response team was called to rescue an elderly woman who fell and injured herself in the 10 acre Blake House Craft Centre maze in Braintree. 

    The woman was rushed to hospital yesterday (August 19) afternoon after falling at the 8ft attraction at around 2.30pm.

    The hazardous response team is described as highly skilled and able to "work in difficult environments".

    A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: "An elderly woman injured her arm when she fell in a maze. 

    "As she was in a maze, it was quite difficult for our crews to transport her out using their normal equipment so we dispatched HART who have a specialist piece of equipment that was used to stretcher the woman out. 

    "She was then taken to Broomfield Hospital for further assessment and treatment.

    Elderly woman rushed to hospital after fall at Blake House maze in Braintree

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    20th August saw stuff thrown into space.   I can never resist ten space questions.
    Q1)20th August saw the launch of the Viking 1 probe.  By whom: the European Space Agency, the Japanese Space Agency or NASA … ?
    Q2)In which year of the 1970s?
    Q3)Viking 1 was heading for Mars: also known as the what planet … ?
    Q4)The Viking 1 lander and orbiter did radio tests to test what: Martian soil, Martian atmosphere or general relativity?
    Q5)The lander landed on part of Mars called Chryse Planitia.   Chryse Planitia translates as what: Golden Plain, Orange Plain or Brown Plain?
    Q6)NASA launched one of the 'Voyager' probes: on 20th August, 1977.   Which of the Voyager probes?
    Q7)The Voyager probe we're talking about, is the only human craft to have visited two particular planets: name either.
    Q8)The Voyager probes were heading for what: Mars, Venus or the outer planets?
    Q9)Our Voyager is now 104 what away: 104 mile, light years or AUs?
    Q10)Finally … the Voyager probes each had a golden record, intended to greet any extraterrestrials that found the probes.   The record feature greetings in how many human languages … ?
    Here's lastweek'squestions and answers … 

    Q1)Since 1981, how many US President's were people who'd been born left-handed?
    Q2)Paul McCartney was one of two left-handed member of the Beatles.   Which guitar did he play; bass, rhythm, or lead?
    Q3)Who was the first left hander to walk on the Moon?  (Since writing this quiz, I'vew found suggestions that Neil Armstrong, himself, was left-handed: but not found any verifiable photos of him writing left handedly.)
    Q4)Who's the only left-handed member of Prince Charles' immediate family?
    Q5)Who was the only left handed member of the cast of ET: The Extra Terrestrial?
    Q6)Feminist and author Germaine Greer is a leftie; her most famous work was which 1970 nonfiction book?
    Q7)True or false; Jimi Hendrix was right handed.
    Q8)Which left handed tennis player won the Singles Title at Wimbledon nine times, and the US Open, four times?
    Q9)Which left-handed actor appeared in 'Apocalypse, Now', 'What's Love Got To Do With It' and 'The Matrix'?
    Q10)On a left-handed pair of scissors, which digit operates the cutting blade?
    A1)Four.   Ronald Reagan, forced to changed  at school, George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.   (The only right-hander was George W. Bush.   I'm saying nothing.)
    A2)Bass.   (I've tried learning guitar, myself, and know Sir Paul choose his trademark Hofner violin bass for the same reason I got a cheap Gibson SG clone: both are symmetrical models, and easy to restring for left-hand use.)
    A3)Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin.   (Since writing this quiz, I'vew found suggestions tghat Neil Armstrong, himself, was left-handed: but not found any verifiable photos of him writing left handedly.)
    A4)Prince William.
    A5)Drew Barrymore.
    A6)'The Female Eunuch'.
    A7)True.   (He only played guitar, left handed.)
    A8)Martina Navratilova.   (Did I say Men's Singles titles?)
    A9)Laurence Fishburne.
    A10)The thumb.   (The cutting blade is the one that — as you're holding the scissors — is on the inside, and has its handle at the top.)
    If you'd like a frequent challenge, you can visit Nik Nak's Old Peculiar, and try the Daily Teaser: today's is at the top.If you need quiz questions in a hurry, you're also welcome: you'll find the free Friday Questions Sets — covered by the Creative Commons License* — very handy.Movie fans are welcome, too: as are Dr Whofans.   I tend to write about them, too.If you enjoy what I do, and wish to contribute, feel free to click the PayPal Donate button in the Old Peculiar's sidebar.   Every penny is gratefully received.

    Enjoy the week, folks.

    *        All that means is that you're free to copy, use, alter and build on each of my quizzes: including the Teasers, Gazette Teasers and the Friday Question Sets.   All I ask in return is that you give me an original authors credit on your event's flyers or posters, or on the night: and, if you republish them, give me an original authors credit AND republish under the same license.   A link back to the site — and to the Gazette's, if that's where you've found these — would be appreciated: as would pressing my donate button, here.   Every penny is gratefully received.

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    A second man from Northern Ireland has been arrested in connection with the death of a man found in a container at Tilbury Docks on Saturday (August 16). The man, aged 33 from Londonderry, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating illegal entry into the United Kingdom shortly after 1pm today (August 20) after voluntarily attending at a police station in Essex. He will be questioned by detectives later today. The man arrested in Northern Ireland yesterday is not due to arrive in Essex Police custody until late this evening.

    Second arrest over Tilbury Docks Afghan stowaway death

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    Firefighters had to be called after a two-year-old girl got her fingers caught in the South Woodham Ferrers library self-service machine.

    The incident happened at 9.41am on Tuesday (August 19) with firefighters using washing up liquid to free her trapped finger from the device by 10.08am.

    Leading Firefighter Steve Bonsor said: "It was a machine for people to automatically check their books in and the girl had put her hand in the slot for books and then wedged her index finger into the scanner.

    "We just took the facia off the machine and then used a little bit of washing up liquid on the girl's finger to lubricate it and worked it out.

    "She was very brave throughout her ordeal. We were glad that we were able to safely release her with the minimum of fuss."

    ​Two-year old freed after fingers trapped in library self service machine

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    A PENSIONER yelled to a motorist "I'll cut you up" whilst waving a 10-inch hunting knife in a road rage incident.

    Robert Eplett, 70, who lives in sheltered housing in Knightswood Court, Steeple Road, Southminster, had an argument with another driver whilst leaving the Promenade Park car park in Maldon on Monday, July 14.

    Eplett pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing a knife in a public place and was sentenced to six months imprisonment, which the judge suspended for one year.

    A court heard how Eplett was in the car with his daughter at the time of the incident when he tried to get around a car that was blocking his exit, which sparked an argument with the driver of the other car.

    As the row escalated, Eplett waved the hunting knife at the occupants of the vehicle shouting "I'll cut you up", Chelmsford Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

    On seeing this a passenger from the other vehicle then jumped out of the car, grabbed the knife from Eplett and threw the knife in a bush before calling the police and blocking Eplett's way while he awaited their arrival.

    Martin Mulgrew, prosecuting for the crown, told the court: "Mr Eplett was holding a 10-inch hunting knife and said to the gentleman 'I'll cut you up'."

    But his defence counsel, Mr Boyce, said that Eplett was only in possession of the knife because he was on a fishing trip a day earlier and had forgotten to put the weapon back in his home.

    "He didn't actually leave his motor car and is of mature years. He is in poor health, lives in sheltered accommodation and is very unlikely to go before the court again," said Mr Boyce.

    "He was on a fishing trip on the Sunday and this was the Monday and the knife was still in the car."

    Whilst sentencing Eplett, His Honour Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC said that the carrying of knives is something that should be "stamped on".

    He said: "You got involved in a road rage incident and produced a 10-inch hunting knife to a person who approached you.

    "You are a man, now 70 years old, and you have no relevant previous convictions, in poor health, you are aged and a rather ill senior citizen and perpetrated the offence out of the blue when you ought to have known better.

    "The carrying of knives in public places is something that is detrimental to the wellbeing of our society and has to be stamped on by punitive sentences."

    Eplett was also ordered to pay £100 towards court costs and the court ordered the destruction of the knife in question.

    Suspended jail term for knife-wielding road rage row pensioner, 70,

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    A YOUNG father who wanted to die slashed his wrists before setting fire to a sofa bed in a block of flats filled with vulnerable adults.

    Daniel Newton, 22, who has a history of mental health problems and even attempted suicide aged 11, started the blaze in his sheltered accommodation flat in Freebournes Court, Witham, but did not flee the building.

    Instead, he called 999 and told them he was going to set fire to himself after stabbing and cutting himself.

    When police officers asked Newton if he was concerned about the danger he caused to other residents that lived in the block he replied, "**** them".

    A man waiting for a bus at the time of the incident noticed the Sanctuary House-owned building was alight and tried to get the attention of others in the block of flats in Newland Street above the Job Centre.

    When fire crews arrived at the scene on March 24 at around 7pm they had to rescue an agitated Newton from the burning building, but he grappled with officers as they tried to get him into an ambulance.

    As police tried to arrest him he bit an officer twice on the arm, to which the officer responded by punching him in the face.

    Once at hospital Newton continued to be "excitable" and paced around the ward punching the walls.

    "He was in a distressed state and had been drinking, he told doctors he consumed a bottle of vodka and ripped the fire alarm off the wall of his flat because he didn't care what happened to him and wanted to die," said Laura Kenyon, prosecuting, at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, where he was jailed for four years and three months.

    He pleaded guilty to one count of arson with intent to endanger life and one count of assaulting a police officer.

    Sanctuary, the housing association that runs Freebournes Court for vulnerable adults, estimated that £1,500 of damage was caused by the blaze.

    Defending, Richard Connelly said: "The psychiatric report paints an extremely depressing picture. He has had a turbulent history, this was not a wanton act of destruction but set in the contexts of a history of self-harm.

    "He is receiving some level of stability in prison and has taken a number of educational courses to improve his employment prospects.

    "He is also gaining an insight into the triggers that bring about his self-destructive behaviours."

    The court heard how Newton had 10 previous convictions, including the carrying of an offensive weapon and possession of Class A drugs, but he had never been in prison before and had no convictions for arson.

    Sentencing him Judge Anthony Goldstaub, said: "You have various grudges against society, your family and the medical profession and you blame others for your failure to find employment and a settled life.

    "Your psychiatric report confirms you are not mentally ill or require treatment in any hospital, you need containment and a period of rehabilitation, those factors are both present in prison."

    Newton was sentenced to 48 months for arson and three months for assaulting a police officer, as well as being ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.

    Young dad Daniel Newton 'wanted to die' when he set fire to sofa in Freebournes Court, Witham

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    Thousands of Essex teenagers have opened their GCSE results today after two years of hard graft.

    English grades are expected to drop as a result of changes to the curriculum implemented by former education secretary Michael Gove two years ago - but the overall pass mark is expected to rise when the full picture emerges today.

    Last year's haul will be hard to beat however, with many schools in the Chelmsford, Maldon and Braintree districts claiming their best ever set of results.

    See below for the results

    At Chelmer Valley High School in Broomfield, 60 per cent of pupils gained A* to C grades including English and maths.

    Deputy headteacher Claire Goodchild said: "We are looking at three quarters of our students actually making at least the progress they should be making or more which is really pleasing."

    Top performers included Chloe Harvey who scooped 6 A grades, 3As, a B and a distinction in IT.

    Chloe said: "I am over the moon. Getting an A* in Physics was a shock, I was not expecting that."

    Great Baddow High School saw a 10 per cent improvement on last year's results, with 60 per cent scoring more than five A*s to Cs including maths and English.

    And for the first time this year, the specialist sports college set up a 'Big Brother room', similar to the Channel 5 programme's diary room.

    Head teacher Carrie Lynch said: "We want our students not only to enjoy opening those all-important envelopes but also to help next year's GCSE candidates appreciate what results day feels like.

    "The room will allow them to speak privately to a camera to reflect on how they revised, how their work has paid off and what they've learned about the whole process."

    The idea was the brainchild of head of Year 11 Nick Wilson, with the plan to share the results of the videos with next year's Year 11 in September, to serve as an inspiration.

    Top of the class was Ellie Foot, who amassed 10 A*s and two As.

    "It feels amazing, really great," she said.

    "There's been a lot of hard work and I've not really had a break but I kept working and I'm glad it paid off. There were times when I wanted to stop, it's been hard."

    Despite her dedication, Ellie was still surprised to learn of her results this morning.

    "It was more shock, trying to process what was on the page, then relief and happiness.

    Planning to take biology, chemistry, German and maths for A-level, Ellie is celebrating her results with a meal with her family.

    Other top achievers included Paige Knights, who secured 9A* 2A, Olivia Seymour, with 6A* and 4As and Luke Owen 5A* and 6A. Luke Baharie bagged 5A* 5A.

    Departing Boswells School headteacher David Crowe will be signing off with his school's best ever GCSE results.

    The Springfield school saw 68 per cent of students attain five or more A* to C grades including English and maths, with 96 per cent getting five or more A* to G grades.

    Particular high fliers this year include James Coleman (8A*s and 2As), Jodie Sheehan 8A*s, 2As and 2Bs), Lucy Brown (7A*s and 4As), Jacob Ashton (4A*s and 6As) and Alex Gutteridge (5A*s, 4As and 1B).

    Mr Crowe said: "I am very pleased with what our students have achieved again this year. Their hard work and dedication does them great credit and they deserve the excellent results that they have achieved.

    "At all levels of ability students have exceeded their targets and the support of their teachers and professional support staff has immensely aided their success.

    He added: "At all levels of ability students have exceeded their targets and the support of their teachers and professional support staff has immensely aided their success.

    "Academic success has once again been achieved against the backdrop of students' active participation in the wider life of the school and local community and this is especially pleasing."

    At King Edward Grammar VI School (KEGS) in Chelmsford, 99.1 per cent of students gained A* to C grades, and an impressive 84 per cent secured A* to A.

    Head teacher Tom Sherrington said: "There were a lot of exam changes due to national amendments which makes it less predictable but the students have still come out right on top."

    Tom Mitty achieved 14 A*s - a joint record. He added: "My mum thought I'd opened up someone else's paper." 

    Chelmsford County High School head teacher Nicole Chapman is to appeal to the exam board over the marking for five subjects. 

    However, 84 per cent achieved an A* to A and 99.4 per cent got an A* to C.

    "They have achieved excellent results with 84 per cent receiving A* to A grades and obviously they deserve our congratulations," said Mrs Chapman. 

    "We will however be taking up issues with the exam boards concerning a number of subjects where the results did not reflect the ability of the students or the expectations of their teachers who all have a huge amount of experience."

    Top performer Charlene Tang, 16, who lived in Hong Kong, Singapore and Brazil before starting her GCSEs at the school, received 13 A* grades.

    "I'm really pleased," said the swimmer, badminton, tennis, flute, piano player and runner.

    Maltings Academy students in Witham are celebrating achieving the best GCSE results in the school's history.

    This summer's results show a rise of seven per cent from last year, with a total of 63 per cent of students gaining five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths.

    In the core subjects, 81 per cent of students achieved an A* to C grade in English, while 72 per cent scored the top grades in maths.

    This is the fourth year running the school, in Spinks Lane, Witham, has enjoyed a boost in its results.

    Star performers include Thomas McKeown with 5 A*; 5 A; 1 B and one distinction, James Sullivan - 7 A*; 2 A; 1 C and one distinction, and mikayla Drayton - 2 A*; 4 A; 4 B and 1 Distinction

    Principal John Szynal said: "We are delighted with the outstanding GCSE results attained by our students this year, which continues the academy's excellent rising trend in achievement across the curriculum over the last five years.

    "These are the best results in the academy's history and are a credit to the students and staff who have worked exceptionally hard.

    "We are extremely proud, especially in the current educational climate in which gaining GCSEs is being made more difficult.

    "Congratulations to our students and staff."

    There were many delighted students at St John Payne School today to collect their GCSE results. Overall 61% achieved 5+A*to C including English and mathematics.

    Headteacher Antony Schular congratulated all students, saying: "Very many have made great progress in their studies and they should be proud of their achievements.

    Mr Schular made particular mention of a group of students who achieved an impressive 54 A* grades between them.

    He said: "Excellent results were achieved by Pasquale Falzano 8A* and 4As, Rory Kay and Kieran Parker 9A*s 1As and 1B, Thomas Smith 5A*s and 6As, Josie Rowe 4A*s 7As, Henry Whitington 5A*s 5As and 1B, Tom Rudner 2A*, 5A, 2B, 2C, Neil Buchanan and Sam Nelan 3A*, 7A, 1B, Emily Powell 5A*, 5A and Antonio Rivera-Real 4A*, 4A, 3B.

    Keiran said: "Some exams I didn't think I had done that well, so I am really happy. I spoke to my mum and she is really happy and proud.

    "I haven't completely decided what to do next year, but I am thinking I will definitely take maths A level, and maybe also economics, English and French."

    Many students were surprised by their results, including the high-achieving Ms Rowe, who said: "I am really surprised, really pleased as I didn't think the exams went well , and some of them I thought went really badly."

    At The Sandon School, 75 per cent received five or more A* to C grades, with 66 per cent achieving five or more A* to C grades including English and maths in one of the highest achieving years in the school's history.

    One hundred percent of students entered into GSCEs by Sandon achieved one or more GCSE at grades A* to G.

    Headteacher Jo Wincott said: "These are among the highest GCSE results in the school's history, showing another significant improvement on last year's results and we are all delighted with our students' success."

    Elliot Green, Ellie Bannerman, Jack Sissa, Olivia Stewart, Rosie Tompkins, Nicole Vale, Amy Mahoney and Jessica Smith, all 16, were singled out by Sandon staff as some of the school's top performers, with many of them remaining next year to complete their A levels.

    Elliot, who received four A*grades, four As and one B, said: "I want to be a doctor, I've wanted to do that ever since I was little so I'm planning to take four A levels, definitely including chemistry and biology.

    "I hope I was going to get good grades, and I think if you have something to aim towards, it makes doing all that revision a little bit easier."

    Ms Bannerman, who achieved three A* grades, six As and two Bs, said: "I was predicted As, but I didn't think I would get them. My mum and dad are here – we got here really early and waited outside the school. They're really happy – I think they have called everyone they know.

    "Next year I'm going to Colchester sixth form to study English, history, music technology, and politics, and I think I'd eventually like to go into radio and become a producer or maybe a journalist."

    Also celebrating top scoring grades was Jack Sissa, who received four A* grades, five A grades, a distinction and a D, and said: "I was worried on the way over here as I didn't really know what I was going to get, so I'm really pleased."

    Hylands School in Chelmsford saw half of all its students achieve five or more GCSEs between A* to C including English and maths, three quarters of all students achieving grade C or above.

    Headteacher Neil Dunn said: "Our students worked extremely hard throughout their time at Hylands and took advantage of the additional opportunities the school provided for them – we are extremely proud of their achievements.

    Hylands four top performing students, John Everett, Lily Anderson, Sasha Bradshaw and Daisy Lee-Ebden between them achieved 45 GCSEs at the top grades.

    Mr Dunn added: "We are well on our way to becoming an outstanding school. It is clear the changes we have made are working and we look forward to further continued improvement."

    It was another stunning year for New Hall School with 50 per cent of all grades scored at A* to A, and 80 per cent at A* to B and an overall 100 per cent success rate.

    Boys and girls are taught in single-sex classes, and boys and girls achieved near identical results at the A*-A grade

    Those celebrating outstanding individual achievements include the following students who all achieved 100% of grades at A*-A: Megan Lockwood from Great Leighs, Esme Clark from Brentwood, Francis Coker from Hornchurch, Stephen Tully from Galleywood, Katherine Streatfeild from Little Baddow, Lucy Cracknell from Little Canfield, Holly Gadsby from High Easter, Courtney Sanders from Chelmsford, Matthew Gorton from Brentwood, Amelia Davison from Chelmsford, Joshua Deans from High Easter, Zoe Robinson from High Easter, Zoe Williams from Willingale, Isabelle Davies from Good Easter, Henry Baird from Felsted, Caroline Buckley from Orsett, Harrison Booth from Chelmsford, Dominic Reynolds from Upminster and Larissa Marais from Billericay.

    Sam Stockwell from Chelmsford passed all 10 of his GCSEs achieving 6 A grades despite a serious illness. Overall, 28 students achieved 9 or more A* andA grades.

    Principal Katherine Jeffrey, said: "We are delighted to be able to celebrate outstanding results with our students today. The entire year group should be immensely proud of their achievements.

    "We believe these results are testament to the success of New Hall's pioneering 'diamond model', which provides the best of both worlds: the benefits of a co-educational environment together with the academic advantages of girls and boys being taught separately at Key Stage 3 and for GCSE."

    Head of sixth form, James Alderson, said: "Our students have so much to celebrate today with these tremendous results.

    "I look forward to building on this success in future years, as we welcome many of them to our sixth form centre in September."

    GCSE results day 2014: Chelmsford pupils celebrate their grades

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    Cows have been ushered off a road in Chelmsford this morning.

    Essex County Council's highways team reported cattle roaming on the Baddow Bypass, otherwise known as the A1114 Essex Yeomanry Way, at about 7am.

    They were cleared from the road, near to junction 17 of the A12, at about 7.45 and are now safely back in their field.

    An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "We attended the Baddow Bypass, near the Howe Green roundabout, following reports there were two cows in the road just before 7am.

    "The owner was on the scene and moo-ved them to a nearby field."

    Cows roaming on A1114 Baddow bypass ushered back into field

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    A LUXURY boutique cinema could take pride of place in Chelmsford's most iconic building if a consortium's ambitious plans to transform it into a community hub are realised. "High-level" talks with between the group and Essex County Council over Shire Hall's future are under way, regarding a holistic approach being mooted for the 18th-century building. Tom Butler, who is one of the consortium group leaders, said: "At this stage, this is nothing more than a detailed proposal we have put forward. But all the feedback we have had has been more than positive." The proposal also includes a cafe with associated bookshop, food court, charity food bank, members' lounge, function hall and events venue plus high-end office space. The Chelmsford businessman and fellow consortium leader Paul Cummin run the UK franchise of the Danish luxury loudspeaker manufacturer Artcoustic and Mr Butler runs the UK franchise of Danish loudspeaker manufacturer Artcoustic with fellow consortium member Paul Cummin and the pair have a background in luxury bespoke cinemas. Also a director of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, he says the cinema could boast one of the most advanced Dolby Atmos sound systems in the South of the UK outside the capital. But he stressed that the cinema would be just one facet of the building and its overarching purpose was to retain the building for community use. In particular, he envisaged the first-floor County Room – the largest ballroom in Essex the county – to remain essentially untouched. It would be available for hire, with the focus on occupancy rates rather than purely profit. The 32-year-old explained: "The cinema would not necessarily be the main part of the building. It would be an aspect of a multi-purpose hub that would also see the inclusion of the cathedral grounds to the rear of the building, connecting it to the city centre." The group has already had promising conversations with Chelmsford Diocese about the proposal, which Mr Butler feels would make the cathedral better connected to the city centre. He felt the project would help complement planned improvements to the immediate area, which include the opening of Jamie Oliver's Trattoria in the old Barclays building, the arrival of Waitrose, John Lewis and the High Chelmer food quarter, and the pedestrianisation of Tindal Square. While the proposals have already had a very encouraging response on social media, Mr Butler emphasised nothing had been agreed with the council. "There's a swell of anticipation, people are excited. But these are nothing more than plans at the moment," Mr Butler added. Shire Hall has lain empty since December 2012 when bits of concrete fell off. A £500,000 restoration project to the exterior of the building is currently taking place and is expected to be finished by autumn. In April, county councillor Dick Madden, who is also chairman of the Shire Hall reference group, said the council was in serious discussions with two potential tenants. He admitted the process has been "hugely frustrating," but underlined the importance of finding a project that would keep the building open to the public but also be commercially viable. Mr Butler says the venture would be funded in part by way of the issue of high-yield bonds to both private and corporate investors, principally from the local area. An Essex County Council spokesman said: "Essex County Council is still looking at a number of options for the future of this much-loved community building which would ensure it is preserved for future generations while ideally being able to operate commercially and generate income for the council which we can plough back into services for residents. "No formal decision has yet been made but our intention remains to do everything we can to ensure the public can still access the building."

    Boutique cinema, café, and food court lined up for Shire Hall in Chelmsford

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    Police say they have no idea why a man was attacked with a bottle while walking in Chelmsford High Street at night earlier this month.

    Officers are seeking witnesses to the assault, which took place at around midnight on Saturday August 9. The 20-year-old victim, from Chelmsford, was hit from behind and left with cuts and bruises to his head and arms.

    Two women came to his aid but they as yet have not come forward.

    Pc Chloe Lingane, of Chelmsford police station, said: "At this time we have not been able to establish any reason as to why the victim was attacked or any events leading up to the assault.

    "This happened on a busy road and I am hopeful that passers-by may have seen what happened.

    If anyone has any information that could assist our investigation I would ask them to call me at Chelmsford police station on 101 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Man bottled from behind in Chelmsford High Street in apparent random attack

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    The last Bank Holiday of the year is coming soon - so don't waste it!See below for these suggestions on what to do over the long weekend.

    BURNHAM WEEK QUAY DAY THE QUAY, BURNHAM Monday, August 25, 11am to 5pm, free entry

    Celebrate the start of Burnham week with novelty and food stalls, children's entertainment, and a possible fly by. After the success of the event last year, Burnham Town Council is organising another Quay day for spectators of Burnham Week. Race courses will also take place alongside the Quay to provide extra entertainment and in the afternoon a large boat rowing race will finish quayside. For more information, visit

    51ST ANNUAL BARGE MATCH SOUTHEND PIER Sunday, August 24, 11am, normal pier admission prices apply

    Take part in a historic tradition by watching the 51st annual barge match from Southend Pier. Barges will race in three classes starting with Class C Staysail barges at 11am followed by Class B Staysail barges at 11.15am and the Class A Bowsprit barges at 11.30am. Entry to the pier is included with the price of a souvenir programme which can be purchased from the pierhead.

    ESSEX DOG DAY CRIX, LONDON ROAD, HATFIELD PEVEREL Sunday, August 24, 10am – 5pm, Adults: £7, concessions: £5, families: £18. Visit

    Dog owners and dog lovers are invited to a day dedicated to man's best friend. There will be demonstrations, competitions and a variety of stands to keep the whole family entertained. The event will be held in the grounds of Crix, where there is free parking, dogs are welcome but you don't need to have a dog to attend the event.

    ST BOTOLPH'S BIG SUNDAY ST BOTOLPH'S QUARTER COLCHESTER Sunday, August 24, 12pm to 12am, free entry There's plenty to do this Sunday in Colchester with St Botolph's big Sunday, a free festival of music, poetry, dance, digital arts, food, drink and more. A variety of performances will take place on the day and visitors can also attend the 'Brewer's Choice' Ale festival at the Waiting Room and choose from a selection of vendors selling street food and more. For more information and to see the festival line up, search 'The St Botolph's Big Sunday' on Facebook.

    WWII SOLDIERS AND SPIES AUDLEY END HOUSE AND GARDENS, SAFFRON WALDEN Sunday, August 24 – Monday, August 25, 10am, Adults: £17, Children: £10.20, concessions: £15.30 and families: £44.20 Go back in time this bank holiday weekend and experience what it was like to live in wartime Britain. You can attend a soldier's school, dance along to 1940s music, wear the fashion, eat the food and hear stories behind the battles of World War II. Tickets are available to book by calling 0870 333 1183.

    JOUSTING WITH THE KNIGHTS OF MIDDLE ENGLAND HEDINGHAM CASTLE Sunday, August 24 to Monday, August 25, 10am to 5pm, Adults: £12.50, Children: £9 and families: £37

    Hedingham castle is welcoming some special guests this weekend. For the first time, The Knights of Middle England will bring their bold and bright costumes and numerous impressive stunts to Hedingham to put on a show to remember. There will also be craft stalls, food and a range of entertainment including archery from the Norfolk Longbowmen, Birds of Prey from the Lavenham Falconry and more.

    BIG BANG WEEKEND ROYAL GUNPOWDER MILLS, WALTHAM ABBEY Saturday, August 24 – Monday, August 25, Adults: £9.50, Children £7.50, concessions: £8.50 and there are a variety of family tickets available

    Make your bank holiday explosive with a day at the Royal Gunpowder Mills. Professor Nitrate will be mixing up chemicals, blowing things up and seeing how far he can fire projectiles and rockets in an entertaining and informative show brought to you in association with Pyrotechnology Special Effects. There will be one show on Saturday and two each day on Sunday and Monday and you can even have a go at making rockets and explosions yourself. For more information visit:


    Have the time of your life singing along to the classic film Dirty Dancing this Saturday. The Cliffs Pavillion Theatre in Southend is showing a sing-along version of the 1987 hit this weekend. There will be a host to lead a vocal warm up before the show starts and viewers are encouraged to wear fancy dress. Tickets can be bought online at or from the box office on 01702 351135.

    CLACTON AIR SHOW CLACTON SEA FRONT Thursday, August 21, and Friday, August 22, 11am – 5pm, free entry

    Visit Clacton Sea Front this weekend to see the 23rd Annual Clacton Air show. Spectators will be able to see aerobatic displays of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Canadian Lancaster. A food court, trade stands and entertainment will also be based on the seafront for you to enjoy. For more information, visit

    WITHAM BEER FESTIVAL WITHAM HOCKEY AND CRICKET CLUB, THE PARK Thursday, August 21, 5pm – 11pm, Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23, 12pm – 11pm, Entrance fee: £2, Glass deposit: £1.

    Celebrate the bank holiday weekend with live music and a wide variety of drinks to try at Witham Beer Festival. For the fourth year Witham Hockey Club and Witham Cricket Club are hosting the festival where there will be over 30 different beers and ciders, as well as selected English Wines to choose from. The weekend will include a BBQ, cricket matches during the day and evening entertainment from ADAcoustics, Jonny Be Goode and a Chas and Dave Tribute act.

    10 things to do this Bank Holiday weekend - August 25

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    HUNDREDS of motorcyclists joined family and friends to say a final farewell to Josh Marlow who was tragically killed in a car accident.

    Trainee mechanic Josh, who was just one exam away from being fully qualified, was honoured by over 100 bikers that had come from all over Essex for a service at St Nicholas Church, Great Wakering.

    Josh's last journey took him along the Southend seafront in a Suzuki Hayabusa superbike hearse while his coffin was adorned with pictures of him riding his favourite red Yamaha R1 motorbike on a track day at Snetterton in June.

    The 22-year-old from South Woodham Ferrers, who worked at the John Simmonds garage in Wickford, was killed on July 25 in a collision with a car on the A132, Burnham Road, just minutes from his home.

    His family were left overwhelmed by the turnout with mum Brenda Marlow, 53, saying it was "amazing" to see her son honoured in such a way.

    She told the Chronicle: "It was an amazing service. The noise and thunder from the bikes revving outside the church was incredible – it was lovely to hear and lifted the service – Josh would have been so proud.

    "We didn't realise how many good friends he had. I've had lots of messages from not only his friends but the parents of his friends with some lovely stories and it means a lot to us.

    "Hearing people talk about how he had helped them when they were down or in a bad situation summed up his kind nature."

    Josh's six pallbearers were his closest friends Myles Joseph, Jack North, Dean Anderson, Lucus Clark, Michael Tyrrell and Lee Blades and motorbikes formed an impromptu guard of honour which surrounded the crematorium as the hearse arrived for a memorial with roughly 200 mourners.

    "He was ecstatic the day he got his first bike and took his CBT as soon as he could, he loved his bikes and was a very good rider," added Mrs Marlow.

    The church service, conducted by Reverend Alun Hurd, was followed by the release of white doves and a trip to the Dick Turpin on the A127 near Basildon for two-wheel Tuesday where the landlord laid on a free buffet.

    Josh had been riding motorbikes since he was 16 and a Facebook page called R.I.P Josh Marlow has now reached 558 members.

    Mrs Marlow added: "We would like to say thanks to everyone that attended on the day and made it such a fantastic send-off for Josh."

    The Dick Turpin has also agreed to have a plaque installed outside the pub in honour of Josh who used to visit the pub often for two-wheel Tuesday.

    Instead of buying flowers, mourners were asked to donate to the British Biker Relief Foundation (BBRF) that helps rehabilitate riders after falls.

    For more information about the BBRF visit

    In pictures: Hundreds form biker parade in memory of tragic motorcyclist Josh Marlow

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    A proposal to transform the derelict Shire Hall in Chelmsford into a boutique cinema is one many put forward as a way of rejuvenating the former iconic building.

    High level talks with between a consortium and Essex County Council over the building's future are under way, regarding a holistic approach for the site. It would also include a cafe and food court.

    It is easy to forget just how much of a centrepiece the building was in the city - but the pictures above show what an arresting sight was.

    In pictures: Shire Hall 100 years ago with a potential new start on the horizon

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    AN OVER-ZEALOUS dancer who cut her leg trying to pole dance on scaffolding was one of hundreds treated by medics at V Festival in Chelmsford.

    Yet the overall number of incidents in Hylands Park dropped dramatically on last year, from 1,200 to 839.

    "We think it has something to do with the levels attending this year but more significantly it was not too hot, and not too cold – the weather was just about right," said St John Ambulance Essex boss Darren Bartholomew.

    St John Ambulance's 160-strong volunteer team treated 536 festivalgoers and admitted 10 to hospital.

    The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust treated 303 and admitted 19.

    "Generally the main things, as it has been in the past, were alcohol related. People who had drunk too much and had suffered trips or falls as a result of it," Darren said.

    A man was also admitted to a field hospital on the Saturday for drinking a bottle of vodka, while others were treated for fractures and chest pains.

    Mr Bartholomew explained the have-a-go pole dancer who cut herself became the topic of conversation on the Saturday evening.

    "She was enjoying one of the acts on the Arena Stage at the time," he said.

    "We think she fell down while dancing against one of the poles of the tent when she cut herself on one of the clamps which are segmented on the pole."

    As part of a separate incident, a festival-goer and trained first aider told the Chronicle St John Ambulance took one hour and 20 minutes to treat a girl who was having a fit.

    Victoria McKinstry-West said: "The girl in question had fitted, been sick and fell unresponsive six times before the first two St John's first-aiders arrived, being 50 minutes after first requested and then a further five times between them and the stretcher arriving a further 25 to 35 minutes later."

    Mr Bartholomew said in reality the time difference could have been exaggerated, and that a difficulty in a steward locating medics could explain the lapse.

    "It's probably a combination of it feeling like a long time when actually it may be as little as a few minutes and the steward having to locate a person," he said.

    He added that any complaints should be directed first to V Festival organisers Maztec Ltd.

    Scaffold pole dancer cuts leg at the V Festival 2014 as full extent of medical activity is revealed

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    Teenagers across Braintree discovered their GCSE results today with some schools celebrating their best ever results.

    At Notley High School 62 per cent achieved five or more A*to C grades, with 51 per cent acheiving this with English and maths included

    Top performers included Megan Halfacre, 16, from Great Notley, who secured nine A* in maths, history, PE, RE, chemistry, biology, physics, French, English language and Spanish and one A in English literature.

    She said: "I wasn't expecting that at all, it was a complete shock, I thought I might get a couple of As, but this so much better," 

    Megan intends to go to Chelmsford County High School to study biology, chemistry, psychology, economics and Spanish.

    Her friend Amy Barthurst, 16, from Great Notley, was also celebrating her good results, with three A*s in maths, RE and Spanish and five As in French, biology, chemistry, physics, English language, plus two Bs in art and English literature.

    "I really like languages, languages and maths are my favourite subjects. I was only two marks off getting an A* in French so I was a bit disappointed with that as I really wanted to get an A*.

    Amy plans to go to Colchester Sixth Form College to study French, Spanish, RE and maths.

    "I want to be a translator, I could speak French for as long as I can remember, I'm pretty much fluent.

    Dad, Mark and mum Jo were also at Notley High to see Amy get her results.

    Head teacher Simon Thompson, said: "We are very pleased with the achievements of our students this year.

    "Students across the entire ability range have performed well and we look forward to welcoming many of them back to Braintree Sixth Form at the start of next term. We also wish those moving on elsewhere every success in the future."

    "As well as congratulating our students today, I would also wish to thank all our staff for their tireless work with our students and all our parents for the support they have offered their sons and daughters."

    Tabor Academy in Braintree is also celebrating having achieved its best ever science results with 89 per cent of students achieving A*to C grade.

    Overall nearly 60 per cent of students achieved at least five A* to C grades this year, with the highest achieving boy, Ben Prudence receiving 12 GCSE's at A*and A grades including five A* and seven A grades and the highest achieving girl, Flora Holliday, getting 11 A*and A grades.

    Abbey Hancock secured two A*, seven As and three Bs,Bethany Blood received one A*, one A, five Bs, four C, Jordan Barlow got one A*, three As, four Bs, our Cs, Celia Prevott, four Bs, six Cs and Tom Everard with five A*, five As and two Bs.

    There were also some excellent results in PE and dance with 83 per cent of students achieving A* to C in PE and 82 per cent in dance.

    Staff and students at Alec Hunter Academy gave themselves a collective pat on the back after the school achieved record beating results in mathematics for the second consecutive year, as 65 per cent of students gained a C grade or better, a rise of three per cent on the previous all-time best of 62 per cent last year.

    The headline figure of five or more A* to C grades including English and maths is unclear until a clerical error in the exam boards marking is resolved.

    This is due to the fact that the school has identified an error in AQA's English language grading, resulting in 31 students being awarded no marks for controlled assessment carried forward from Year 10.

    The school anticipates that, once resolved, the school's performance could show a slight improvement on the 40 per cent achieved in 2013.

    Headteacher Trevor Lawn said "We are delighted with the progress our students have made in mathematics but, like many schools this year, our English results have fallen short of our expectations and this has impacted on the headline figure.

    "It appears that, once again, this is a national trend, due in no small measure to changes in the assessment framework, so we are not alone.

    "In many other subject areas, such as technology, statistics, PE, religious education, art and triple science, we have seen high standards being achieved and are pleased with these outcomes.

    "This was particularly pleasing for the school, since the figure was achieved without the opportunity to enter students several times, and against a background of tougher grade boundaries."

    Some of Alec Hunter's highest achieving pupils include Dickson Dokowe with five A* grades, four As and two Bs, Hope Dodge, with four A*, six As and one B, Lara Walker got four A*, five As and two Bs, Chelsea Clark got two A* grades, six As and four Bs.

    Amy Goodall received one A* grade, eight As, one B and one C, Emily Draper got one A* grade, six As, three Bs and one C, Isobel Chandler got one A* grade, five As and six Bs, Blake Edge six A grades, three Bs and one C.

    A further six students achieved five A to A* grades, including Callum Jones, Eleanor Miller, Bethan Reading, Holly Roffey, Ben Slayman and Lydia Swan.

    Every child left Alec Hunter with at least one GCSE pass at grades A*to G, and 97 per cent with five or more A*to G grades.

    GCSE results: How did Braintree schools get on?

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    A teenager whose parents were told she was unlikely to come out of a coma has defied the odds to achieve commendable GCSE results.

    Maltings Academy student Lauren Hambling, 16, of Purcell Road, was mysteriously struck down with septic shock in January and spent two weeks at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

    She spent four days in a medically induced coma, but pulled through despite the dire prognosis by doctors.

    Doctors at Broomfield Hospital, who only see between two and four similar cases a year, still do not know what caused her body to go into septic shock, but astonishingly the youngster pulled through.

    But despite missing a crucial four weeks of mock exams and preparation earlier in the academic year and with reduced preparation, Lauren was still able to secure two As, two Bs, three Cs and a D grade.

    She said: "I am very happy with my results and it has obviously been a very scary year for me. The hospital had said to my Mum that I wouldn't pull through."

    "I'll be staying on at Maltings to study sociology, health and social care and psychology."

    Overall, Maltings Academy achieved the best GCSE results in its history for the fourth consecutive year with 63 per cent of students gained five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths.

    Eighty one percent of students achieved an A* to C grade in English, 19 per cent above the national average. In maths, 72 per cent scored above a C grade, up on the national average by nine per cent.

    Principal John Szynal said: "We are delighted with the outstanding GCSE results attained by our students this year, which continues the academy's excellent rising trend in achievement across the curriculum over the last five years.

    "These are the best results in the academy's history and are a credit to the students and staff who have worked exceptionally hard.

    "We are extremely proud, especially in the current educational climate in which gaining GCSEs is being made more difficult.

    "Congratulations to our students and staff."

    Other notable high scorers included Thomas McKeown getting five A*s; five As; one B and one Distinction. James Sullivan bagged seven A*s; two As, one C and one Distinction and Reece Ismay netted five A*s; three As; one B; one C and one Distinction.

    Another student at New Rickstones Academy did not let being wheelchair-bound and fitted with a tracheotomy prevent her from scoring a distinction in her GCSE dance.

    Kayleigh Mansfield, 16, of Cressing Road, Witham, managed seven other GCSE passes in English, maths and religious studies and will be continuing her studies at the academy.

    The youngster said: "I am extremely happy, I was very nervous before my results. Afterwards, I was very surprised.

    "I will be staying at the academy and want to help out at a hospital in the future."

    An academy spokesman said: "Kayleigh is a very active member of our dance group and has performed in a variety of our shows, most notably in our World War I performance."

    "New Rickstones currently has 40 per cent A* to C including English and maths, but is working with exam boards to address anomalies in certain results achieved.

    "The academy expects the outcomes of the appeals to have a significant impact on their five A* to C with English and Maths."

    Head teacher Trenica King, said: "Against a difficult national picture of volatility in outcomes, we are proud of our students' achievements, which are a result of their hard work and determination, together with the support they received from their parents and staff."

    Other high achievers at the academy include Joshua Coote, scoring five As seven Bs and one C. "I am very pleased, I was confident but my results exceeded what I thought I would get!

    "Next for me is Colchester Sixth Form, where I'll be doing maths, accounting, business studies and English. After that, I would like to go to university or straight into accounting."

    Joshua Faires, an aspiring doctor,said: "I am really happy with my grades, especially my A in maths and A* in PE. I am going on to do biology, chemistry, pre-chemical, PE and English literature at Colchester Sixth Form.

    "Long term I want to go into medicine, particularly intensive care"

    Abigail Griffin, who bagged three As, four Bs and three Cs said: "I am definitely happy with what I got.

    "I am surprised, but in a good way! I'll be staying on at New Rickstones to do maths, business studies, IT, personal business finance."

    GCSE results 2014: Girl once in coma comes back from the brink

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    A PENSIONER remarkably survived the "almighty" gas explosion which destroyed his mobile home this morning (August 21).

    The blast was believed to have been ignited when Leonard Clark, aged in his 70s, was trying to light his living room fire in his mobile home in Templeton Park, West Hanningfield.

    Neighbours described how Mr Clark, who also has a home in Sandon, Chelmsford, walked out insisting he was okay.

    He was hospitalised however as a precautionary measure after suffering first degree burns.

    Next-door-neighbour Patricia Able, 74, said: "We were round the back of our home cleaning the windows and there was this almighty bang.

    "I said to my Pete, 'what the hell was that'? We came round here and poor old Len was inside in his dressing gown.

    "His eyebrows and hair was singed and his dressing gown was burnt because it caught on fire.

    "We had all the police up here, two ambulances, even a helicopter went around as well. It was frightening."

    The mobile home, worth about £54,000, has been described as a "write-off" following the blast at about 11am this morning.

    It is believed Mr Clark had his boiler serviced privately only recently.

    "No one is going to live in that any more, it's all blown up," said Mrs Able.

    Two of the home's doors now lie in a nearby garden.

    Mrs Able, who has lived in the park for 14 years, added: "He said he tried to light the gas on but couldn't get any gas through so tried to light his fire and I suppose a spark caught it and it just went up.

    "He came out and said 'I'm all right, I'm fine' but I think he was in shock, absolute shock.

    "He is not that badly injured, it's just shock that will be the problem, but he did burn all his shoulder."

    Three fire engines, two police cars and ambulances arrived after neighbour Christine Childs made the 999 call.

    The gas company followed who capped off the home's supply.

    The 58-year-old mother-of-two said: "I was putting up the washing line and there was an extreme bang and I just ran around thinking it was my house because my husband was inside and when I got round the corner I saw the devastation and just grabbed the phone."

    She added: "He's a very pleasant chap, very well-spoken and such a nice man. He appeared to be very calm but I do believe he was in a state of shock."

    Park director David Harris said he was liaising with the insurance company following the incident.

    "There was no fire at the home and that is the saving grace," he said.

    Pensioner survives 'almighty' gas blast in Templeton Park home, West Hanningfield (video)

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    A MAN with a mullet is among three people police are looking to identify after a burglary in Danbury.

    The trio are thought to have taken part in a burglary in the village on Peartree Lane on July 23 sometime between 1.30 to 9pm.

    A window was forced open and damage was caused to the property, but nothing was stolen as it is thought the suspects were disturbed.

    Anyone who recognises the three men, or was in the area at the time should contact Pc Katie Mathams, Chelmsford CID on 101.

    Detectives are warning people to be wary of strangers in the area and report any suspicious activity immediately to police.

    Man with mullet among Danbury burglary suspects

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    A TEAM of Essex Trading Standards officers helped to confiscate hundreds of counterfeit V Festival programmes and nitrous oxide canisters at this year's event.

    Six Essex County Council workers, police and security helped carry out seven seizures of laughing gas and programmes, resulting in seven arrests, in a bid to flush out illegal sellers across Hylands Park.

    A mound of dodgy programmes and about 100 nitrous oxide canisters is now piled in trading standards' HQ in Springfield ready to be trashed or recycled.

    Trading Standards service manager Steve Lynch said: "We did it to protect young people causing themselves problems, if not at the time, but later in life.

    "That's what we have focused on."

    As a result of an ill-conceived myth that newspaper sales are exempt from trading laws, the six-page programmes included two pages of news.

    Ironically this included quotes from Essex County Council cabinet member for trading standards Roger Walters.

    Like anyone found selling nitrous oxide, labelled "laughing gas", those trying to pedal fake programmes were also ejected from the grounds for contravening V Festival policy.

    "The idea is we can see the canister that is with the nitrous oxide, which is actually used for whipping cream for knicker bocker glories, and we can see them put the balloon on the exit of the canister," said Mr Lynch.

    "Our first seizure was on the campsite on the Friday and then it was pretty much a case of keeping an eye out.

    "You will find piles of used containers and that gives you an idea of where it's been going on, but it's quite difficult in a crowd that size to seize it.

    "We have to ask police or the security guys to help us."

    Trading standards workers also patrolled bars checking the quantity of alcohol they were serving and who they were serving it to.

    He added that there was not a notable increase of nitrous oxide and programme sales compared with last year.

    V Festival 2014: Fake programmes and 100 laughing gas canisters

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