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

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    After a warm September it looks as though winter could be on the way as temperatures in Chelmsford are set to be up to 10°C cooler than last week according to the latest Essex Weather report.

    Rain is forecast for everyday until Thursday with temperatures expected to reach lows of 7°C.

    Today south easterly winds are expected to reach up to 25 miles per hour, while the sun is set to rise just after 7am all this week with the sun setting throughout the next seven days will be just after 6.20pm.

    Is winter on the way in Essex?

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    N OW that Chelmsford is officially a city and that work has started at last on the Army & Navy roundabout and, presumably, also on the dreaded flyover, my interest is now focused on the Civic Theatre. 'Why is that'? I hear you ask.

    'What has the Civic Theatre done to upset you'? The Civic Theatre has done nothing to upset me; in my view, however, the time has come to analyse the Civic's place in Chelmsford's golden uplands of city status.

    Am I the only person to feel cheated when national tours of 'A-list' entertainment bypass Chelmsford to perform in Southend or Brentwood instead? Why Brentwood? The Brentwood Centre is the least attractive entertainment venue I have visited.

    As a provincial theatre, the Civic has played its part over the years, bringing entertainment to Chelmsford. For seven years I was honorary press officer for The Trinity Methodist Music and Drama Group. As such I was involved with the Civic on several levels and enjoyed every moment.

    City status, however, creates a wish list of potential icons relevant to this newfound status such as upgrading Chelmsford railway and bus stations, building new homes, hotels, schools and commercial office and showroom space; all of which I understand is being addressed by Essex County Council and Chelmsford City Council.

    There is, however, one glaring omission. The provision of a city arts complex to replace the rather parochial current theatrical representation in Chelmsford.

    I give you The Fairfield Halls in Croydon as an excellent example of an arts complex; comprising of an 1,800-seat concert hall, which also doubles as a cinema, a 750-seat (Peggy) Ashcroft Theatre, in-house catering, a Grand Foyer boasting exhibition space for trade shows, conferences, meetings, etc, and a gallery for 400 people for banquets, parties, etc.

    'A' list artists I have seen there include Howard Keel, Eartha Kitt, Pat Boone and Chuck Berry, all following in the footsteps of The Beatles, T-Rex, Genesis, Morecambe and Wise and many more top entertainers, none of whom, in my view, would play the Civic Theatre as it's too small for international stars.

    As Chelmsford is expanding fast, both in population and business opportunities, it is time for both councils to consider a new build arts centre modelled, I suggest on Croydon's Fairfield Halls.

    Let us not overlook that Chelmsford is the capital of Essex and the birthplace of radio; as such, the city should be at the forefront of arts development in Essex.

    Attempting to resolve the problem in piecemeal fashion will not do in the 21st century. So, my message to both councils is: Think Big and the rewards will be big.

    COMMENT: Why do the big names ignore Chelmsford? It's time for a new arts centre

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    Colchester United 3-3 Gillingham (2-4 pens)

    FIRST-HALF strikes from Drey Wright and Sanchez Watt were not enough to prevent Colchester losing on penalties in the second round of the Football League Trophy last night.

    Gillingham levelled twice through Brennan Dickenson and Bradley Dack before Antonio German bundled in with 13 minutes left.

    Only for substitute Freddie Sears to send the game to penalties with an equaliser with three minutes left.

    Colchester boss Tony Humes made several changes to the team that lost 4-2 at Preston on Saturday.

    Craig Eastmond and new loan signing Elliot Hewitt replaced Alex Gilbey and Sears in the U's starting 11.

    Colchester started the better of the two sides and after a quick flowing move Gavin Massey struck from range and pulled a smart save from Stuart Nelson.

    And the U's didn't have long to wait to open the scoring and they did so in some fasion. Wright scored his first goal in 18 months with a fizzing shot that thundered in off the woodwork.

    But Gillingham struck back seven minutes later when Dickenson latched onto a long ball and calmly slotted the ball past Sam Walker to level the scores.

    The U's almost got themselves back in front on the half-hour mark when George Moncur's curling free kick was palmed behind by Nelson.

    Colchester again came close to retaking the lead moments later when the ball dropped to Massey on the edge but his first time volley ended just over the bar.

    They finally got the break through their played deserved in the 38th minute when Rhys Healey was slid in by Massey who under pressure fell to his knees and the referee pointed to the spot.

    Watt stepped up and duly sent Nelson the wrong way to make the score 2-1.

    And the U's could have been three up by half time when Sean Clohessey sprung the offside trap and attempted a delicate lob over Nelson. But with the keeper beaten the ball ended narrowly past the far post.

    Colchester were forced into a change at the break with David Wright replacing Frankie Kent after the young centre-back picked up a knock just before the break.

    The U's picked up where they left off after the break and were looking to extend their lead when Massey was laid off by Watt and drove in a low shot that was easily dealt with by Nelson.

    But they were dealt a sucker punch minutes later when Dack converted Jermaine McGlashan's superb pull back to level the scores again.

    Moncur then tried to haul the Colchester back in front with a curling effort but Nelson saved well to his left-hand side.

    The night then went from bad to worse for the U's when German scored from virtually the goal line midst a goal mouth scramble to give the Gills a 3-2 lead with time running out.

    Humes send on Sammie Szmodics in a bid to rescue the game and with three minutes left on the clock his side were level. Debutant Hewitt delivered an inch-perfect cross that substitute Sears volleyed low past Nelson.

    The U's then had a great chance to win it at the death when Nelson slipped as he cleared the ball but Moncur's curling chip shaved the crossbar as it went over.

    And so the game went to penalties. Colchester were up first and took the lead through Sears but while Gillingham scored their first three, Moncur and Tom Eastman both missed from the spot.

    Although Clohessey ensured that Gills' keeper Nelson would have to win the tie he slammed his penalty past Walker to see the visitors into the next round.

    The defeat is Colchester's ninth cup defeat in a row dating back to Autumn 2011.

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    A model who was left blind in one eye and with severe disfigurement after acid was thrown over her face has received an honorary degree from Anglia Ruskin University.

    TV presenter and author Katie Piper picked up the Honorary Doctor of Health Services degree yesterday (October 7) at the Chelmsford campus.

    Ms Piper, who was attacked in 2008, formed the charitable Katie Piper Foundation that seeks to improve outcomes for burns survivors and support them in their recovery from their injuries.

    The foundation is working with the Postgraduate Medical Institute in the field of burns research at the university.

    Yesterday, she tweeted that it was a "special day".

    Others to be awarded included Alpine skier Jade Etherington, who grew up in Chelmsford and is the most successful British winter Paralympian of all time. 

    She was born with Axenfeld Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes progressive visual impairment.

    The university said that her "courage and her determination to live a life unlimited by her disability make her an excellent role model for our students", and she was given an Honorary Doctor of Science degree yesterday.

    Michael Adams OBE - the chief executive of the Essex Coalition of Disabled People – was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Education degree as he is a "tireless campaigner for the rights of disabled people", according to ARU.

    Acid attack survivor Katie Piper awarded honorary degree by Anglia Ruskin University

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    Skywatchers across the world have been treated to the stunning sight of a lunar eclipse today.

    The so-called blood moon was seen in parts of the US at around 8am GMT and in Asia at about 10am.

    It will be only the second one to be seen in a period of four years, and has been dubbed Blood Moon because of its reddish, orange glow.

    People in Europe, Africa and the eastern part of Brazil missed out on the show but NASA hosted a live feed for those who missed out on seeing it for real.

    The last total lunar eclipse took place on April 15, with the next is expected to take place on 4 April 2015.

    There will be two full lunar eclipses again next year.

    Where can I see the Blood Moon today?

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    England are preparing to play two European Championship qualifying games on the back of a hard fought win against Switzerland.

    The first clash, against perennial whipping boys San Marino, will take place at Wembley on Thursday.

    Roy Hodgson doesn't have any huge injury concerns ahead of the game, although he will be without Daniel Sturridge after the Liverpool striker picked up a thigh strain.

    Southampton full back Nathaniel Clyne got his first call-up, while Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey will be hoping to impress in midfield.

    The manager has also backed his captain Wayne Rooney's temperament despite his three match club ban.

    England vs San Marino is live on ITV from 7pm on Thursday, kick off is at 7.45pm

    What time does England vs San Marino kick off and what channel is it on?

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    If autumn is the season to sit back on the sofa and tuck into hearty meals, then it's also the time to walk it all off.

    Essex has some beautiful places to admire the sights and sounds. See below for five more and let us know if we've missed off your favourite spot.

    Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre, Hawkswood Road, Downham, Billericay, Essex, CM11 1WT

    Set in mature woodland and offering outstanding panoramic views across the 870 acre Hanningfield Reservoir, the visitor centre has plenty of attractions for nature enthusiasts both young and old.

    The nature reserve offers 30 acres of woodland walks (featuring carpets of Bluebells and Stichwort) where visitors can enjoy taking in bird hides, ponds and those spectacular views of the reservoir. Test your map reading skills with the new orienteering course, trail guides are also available to guide your around the reserve.

    The centre has full disabled access, and the centre's shop has plenty of gifts and a full range of binoculars and telescopes available as a souvenir of your visit.

    Belfairs Woodland Centre, Eastwood Road North, Leigh on Sea, SS9 4LR

    Much of the site's woodland is officially 'ancient woodland'; some is more than 1,000 years old, making it the earliest woodland recorded in Essex.

    They are home to a number of historic landscape features and a wide variety of flora and fauna, including several nationally-threatened species. The Dormouse, Heath Fritillary butterfly and Song Thrush are key species here, as is the unusual Wild Service tree, an important indicator of ancient woodland.

    In addition to the great walks on offer, visitors can also enjoy cycling, horse riding, golf and bowls all on site.

    Saltmarsh Walk – Dengie Peninsula,Burnham on Crouch

    Bounded by the North Sea and the rivers Crouch and Blackwater, the Dengie provides a rich mix of arable farming, thatched and weatherboarded villages in addition to scenic saltmarshes, allowing visitors to enjoy memorable walks across this hidden gem. The Dengie's major town, Burnham-On-Crouch, will suitably refresh you after your efforts.

    For those looking for more activities, there's also walking, cycling, horseriding and aquatic sports at theBradwell Centre. For foodies there's some of the country's finest seafood and afood traillinking local farm producers.

    High Woods Country Park– Colchester, Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5JR

    The Country Park offers ample woodland, a lake and wildflower meadows for visitors to enjoy all year round. Marshy areas, hayfields and scrubland ensure the right habitat is in place for thousands of different birds and mammals.

    The park has held the prestigious Green Flag Award, recognising and rewarding the best green spaces in the country. High Woods Country Park, one of Colchester's beauty spots, can be enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and families alike.

    Hatfield Forest– Hatfield, Takeley, Bishops Stortford, Essex CM22 6NE

    In its 90th year as National Trust property, Hatfield Forest provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to enjoy scenic walks in traditional woodland that is home to more than 3,500 different species.

    Popular walks include the Tree and Forest Walks that will see you around in just under 2 hours each.

    The Georgian Shell House lets you bring your own picnic or visit the on-sight café for refreshments. For those feeling creative, the Creation Station allows you to make something to take home, create your own medieval scene, or just simply settle down on the bean bags and enjoy a good story. 

    5 more places in Essex to go for an autumn walk

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    MALDON & TIPTREE'S new manager Alan Kimble believes the squad he has inherited just need guidance if they are to improve.

    The Jammers are going through a torrid time at the moment, with seven league defeats in a row meaning they have slipped down to 21st in the Ryman League Division One North.

    But chairman Ed Garty has appointed Kimble along with assistant manager Anwar Uddin to help Maldon get back up the table.

    Kimble's career began as a player with Charlton Athletic, before playing just under 300 games for Cambridge United and Wimbledon in the 1990s.

    He then moved into management at Aveley before being assistant manager at Hemel Hempstead Town and Eastbourne Borough.

    Kimble said: "I applied to Ed on the Friday and met him that night. He asked me to come down and watch them train on the Saturday and the interview went well.

    "He asked me to take the job and Anwar and I just took it from there.

    "I think we have enough in the squad but we could do with a little more. We have got the legs and the willingness but just need a little guidance.

    "That is why we have been brought to the football club, to bring the professionalism. Ed has put a lot into the football club and he is a passionate man. There are no more passionate people than myself and Anwar to take the club forward and I just hope that we can do that."

    Kimble's first game in charge was against identical twin brother Garry's Witham Town in the Robert Dyas League Cup on Tuesday.

    The Jammers were beaten 1-0 through a James Robinson first-half penalty, but Alan was encouraged by what he saw from his team.

    He added: "I think our final ball and set-pieces need to be a little bit better but there were encouraging signs. We have got a little bit of work to do before we go down to Hythe Town in the FA Trophy

    "It was obviously the first game in charge but we have seen all the players now and if they put a performance in like they did tonight we should be OK. They worked hard, which is all I ask from my team. They did that and we just need to tweak a few things, but I don't think we'll be far away."

    New boss Kimble will bring professionalism to Maldon & Tiptree

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    FUMING Heybridge Swifts manager Keith Wilson revealed he was 'embarrassed' by his team's performance as they surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at home to Brentwood Town on Tuesday night.

    Swifts were two-up inside seven minutes of the Robert Dyas League Cup first round clash but that was as good as it got for the hosts as Brentwood grabbed one back before the break and netted three more in a dominant second-half display.

    Wilson used the cup clash to give fringe players and young prospects a chance to stake a claim for a first team place, but afterwards said he wished he hadn't done so.

    "I'm embarrassed to be the manager of a team that has put in a performance like that," said Wilson. "Just before kick-off he [Brentwood boss Adam Flanagan] said to me 'I wasn't even going to come tonight', so that show's the level of interest they had in it.

    "First 15 minutes I thought we were excellent, went 2-0 up and were comfortable and then we just got totally outplayed and outbattled. I'm embarrassed for the players.

    "I'm ruing my decision to rest players and give people a chance. I should have picked the same starting XI that played Saturday to keep the momentum going. We seem to go one step forward and this is a massive two steps back.

    "It's also told me that the depth of the squad I thought we had is nowhere near. People who moan at you that they're not in the squad go and perform like that.

    "That's where I'm too nice. I've given them the opportunity tonight to stake a claim for Saturday and they've served up a performance like that.

    "I'll take the praise when we win and I'll take the flack and criticism when we get beaten because I'm the manager, but I can't take defend that, they have to take full responsibility."

    Wilson gave the three players he signed before Saturday's 2-1 win against Cray Wanderers, Joe Pearman, Ryan McFarlane and Charlie Gregory starts, with the latter scoring the first and setting up the second.

    However, he said Nikki Beale, McFarlane and U21 player Frankie Hession-Harris were the only players to come out with any credit.

    "I thought our best player by a country mile was Frankie from the U21s," he said. "Some of them weren't in the 16 for last Saturday and they perform like that.

    "Second half we had our first shot in the 88th minute, which is farcical.

    "I'm not a ranter and a raver, throwing tea cups about, it's not in my nature, but tonight I wish it was. I wish I'd got a couple of them up against the wall, but that's not me."

    Wilson's fury as Heybridge Swifts' fringe boys let him down

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    CHELMSFORD City boss Mark Hawkes has declared that his side are the fittest in the Vanarama Conference South.

    Despite playing with ten men for more than half of Monday night's 1-0 derby defeat by Concord Rangers at Melbourne Park, after James Love was sent off, Hawkes only made one substitution and his players still looked strong in the final moments.

    "We're the fittest side in this league and we don't know when we're beaten," said the Clarets manager.

    "We play until the end and our fitness levels, well, we have finished every game this season as the stronger side. That shows you that we're doing good work on the training ground and good work with Matt [Brinkley], our fitness guy, who is superb with them."

    Hawkes added that if City can show the same enthusiasm and energy levels with 11 men they will be in "a very healthy position come the end of the season".

    This Saturday sees City travel to Whitehawk in the FA Cup third round qualifying in what will be a tough encounter on the south coast. The Brighton-based club have plenty to spend this season, but have lost seven of their opening 13 Vanarama Conference South games.

    Hawkes is looking forward to the cup clash as well as the prospect of the prize money on offer.

    "We love cup games," he said. "All non-league clubs need the revenue. It helps out massively. There is £7,500 up for grabs.

    "Unfortunately, with a draw away to Whitehawk, we're unlikely to make any other money, because the crowd isn't going to be big there. It's £7,500 or nothing really.

    "There's a lot to play for, for both clubs, and Whitehawk have got some very good players. We'll have to see how they get on tomorrow and we'll have had a day's rest more than them and we'll see how we go."

    Hawkes gave an update on the injuries at the club and the recovery of striker Evans Kouassi, who picked up a hamstring injury during 6-0 victory against Worthing in the previous FA Cup round.

    "We haven't got many knocks. We might have one or two back at the weekend," said Hawkes.

    "Evans is doing OK. I'm not going to risk him playing one week and then miss another three or four. We've seen how he is tonight (Monday) and we'll see how he is again on Thursday."

    Boss Hawkes says Chelmsford City are the fittest side in the league

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    GARRY KIMBLE admits that he is expecting a "war" when his Witham Town side travel to Needham Market in the FA Cup third round qualifying this weekend.

    The last time the two faced each other was in the Ryman League Division One North play-off semi-final last season, with tempers flaring after Witham won.

    Market manager Mark Morsley took exception to the fact that Lee Townrow – on loan from Market – played in the match.

    And after the game had finished an altercation occurred between the two managers on the sidelines.

    However, Kimble is hoping that the dust has now settled between the clubs.

    He said: "It is still going to be a bit needly. It is going to have a little bit of extra spice but hopefully Mark Morsley is going to have a bit of forgive and forget.

    "I think I will probably get it in the neck from their supporters more than anything.

    "It is going to be a tough place to go and they will be favourites because they are doing well in their league. We are just trying to settle into the Premier Division and it is hard, we have to treat every game as a cup final.

    "It has added a little bit more spice that we have drawn them and they will be looking for revenge against us.

    "It's going be 11v11 but it is going to be a war and whoever wants it more will go on and win it, simple as that. But my players give me everything each week and hopefully they will do that again. We have a tight-knit bunch and at the moment, I don't fear anyone."

    Kimble is fully confident however, that the man under the spotlight, Townrow, will be concentrating fully on the game.

    And with the manager confirming that the former Market player will start on Saturday, he recognises that the form book goes out the window on these occasions.

    "The FA Cup is something special and everyone wants to make that little bit of history for the club. If we play with the right tempo and attitude then we will go and win the game.

    "It is going to be Lee Townrow's cup final really and hopefully he won't get himself booked or sent-off. It's important not to play to the occasion and let their ability to do the work. I think Lee's mind will be on the game, I don't have a worry about that."

    Witham Town boss Kimble expects a battle in Needham Market FA Cup clash

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    CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has confirmed that the doors of his new restaurant will open in Chelmsford in just under two weeks time. 

    Jamie's Trattoria will open on October 20 on High Street, creating 40 jobs, and serving up authentic Italian food for business from 7am to midnight Monday to Thursday, and 7am to 12.30am on Friday and Saturday. 

    Pizzas will be made to order every day, with the offerings "all authentically Italian, but unmistakably 'Jamie' too", with a focus on pasta and sharing dishes.

    The chef submitted plans for his latest outlet in the city centre in May this year, and will take over the former Barclays bank. 

    Jamie Oliver confirms opening date for new Chelmsford restaurant

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    A man from Laindon was attacked with a monkey wrench after a fight with five men broke out in an off licence last Saturday.

    The 34-year-old victim entered the Pints and Litres off licence at the Laindon Centre, Laindon, around the same time as the five men, and an argument with one of them occurred when they both went to the fridge.

    The five men then attacked the victim, knocking over a 46-year-old female shop assistant in the process, continuing the fight outside using bottles and a monkey wrench, which the men got from the blue Peugeot 206 they arrived in.

    Investigating Officer Dc Angela Tappin, of Basildon CID, said: "This appears to have been an unprovoked attack where a woman was pushed over and badly bruised so the suspects could get to the man who was assaulted. He received a nasty head injury."

    Police are investigating the serious assault and have released CCTV images from the shop in a bid to identify the men.

    Anybody who recognises them is asked to contact Dc Angela Tappin at Basildon CID on Essex Police 101 or they can leave information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    Man attacked with monkey wrench in Laindon

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    Stargazers could be in for rare a treat with the arrival of Halley's Comet in the night sky later this month.

    Dust from the incredible lights display is expected to be visible in the night sky on October 21 and 22 - decades earlier than its expected time of arrival in 2061.

    The comet is usually seen once every 75 years and it was not expected to be seen again until 2061. Space experts say the stunning display is caused when the cosmic dust burns up in the Earth's atmosphere.

    It was so-called because it was discovered and named by Edmond Halley in 1705 

    Reports say the cosmic dust is likely to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere and create a stunning meteor display.

    Experts say people will not need a telescope to see the display as it will be visible to the naked eye and the best time to see it will be around midnight

    Halley's Comet was discovered and named by Edmond Halley in 1705.

    Halley's Comet to be visible in the skies over Essex almost 50 years early

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    THE A12 southbound near Kelvedon is likely to be shut well into this evening (October 8) after a "serious collision" involving two lorries and two cars.

    Emergency services are at the scene of the accident and have closed the road between Marks Tey and the Kelvedon turn-off. It is likely to remain shut for four to five hours.

    Officers were called at about 3.45pm after reports of a collision involving two cars and two lorries.

    A number of injuries have been reported although none is thought to be life-threatening. Paramedics and the crew of an air ambulance were called to the scene.

    Essex Police said the road will remain closed until all vehicles are recovered and a large diesel spillage is cleared from the carriageway.

    Drivers have been urged to avoid the area until the closures are lifted. 

    The northbound carriageway was not affected by the collision but there are currently long delays caused by drivers slowing down as they pass the scene of the collision.

    Four vehicle smash closes A12 southbound near Kelvedon

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    THREE men have pleaded guilty to producing cannabis after 370 plants were found at a boarding kennels and dog groomers.

    The Class B drugs, which have a street value of roughly £310,000, were discovered by police at Harmony Kennels at Brook House in Spar Lane, Purleigh, in April.

    Daniel Morris, 22, Matthew Wheeler, 32, and David Hawkes, 69, who lives at the address where the drugs were found, admitted the single charge at Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday.

    The trio were arrested when police raided the premises and spent a night in police custody before appearing at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on May 1 on the charge of manufacturing cannabis.

    At an earlier hearing, Denise Holland, prosecuting, said: "Police executed a search warrant at the outbuildings and a large quantity of cannabis plants, 370 in total, was found.

    "The defendants were there wearing white paper sheets on their clothing.

    "They were arrested, put in custody and interviewed."

    At last Thursday's hearing, Chelmsford Crown Court heard that the crown wanted more time to assess links to other criminals in the London area.

    Morris, of Windrush Court, Chichester Wharf, Erith, Wheeler, of Bow Road, London, and Hawkes were bailed until Monday, February 2, when they will appear in court for sentencing.

    They were told not to contact each other in the interim.

    In an unrelated incident, James Webber, 34, pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday to growing 53 cannabis plants on Monday, September 8, at his home in Hullbridge Road, South Woodham Ferrers.

    The court heard how Webber had been growing plants in a bedroom in the property, in a loft area and in cupboards.

    Police estimate that the 2.38kg haul was worth £12,205 on the street.

    Webber is awaiting sentence at Chelmsford Crown Court.

    Cannabis factory trio hid 370 plants at kennels and dog groomers

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    A public memorial service for Colin Evans, who was found dead in a flat in Broomfield Road last week, is to be held at Chelmsford Cathedral.

    Visitors and volunteers at the Sanctus charity will gather at the place of worship at 10.30am on October 20 for a public service.

    Colin, 39, was discovered in the flats provided by homeless charity Sanctus where he lived above its café, and where flowers now decorate its façade in tribute to a man who has been described as being "like marmite".

    On Saturday (October 3), Sanctus cafe cook Caroline Benyounes, and her family and friends drank in the Star & Garter pub in Moulsham Street to mark what would have been Colin's 40th birthday.

    "He was coming along with my family, my dad, my step-mum, they all loved him to pieces," she said.

    "He was a pain in my backside at times but he was a lovely man, a really lovely man.

    "He had my backing all the time."

    Colin, originally from the East End, but formerly of St James Road in Braintree, had more than 80 convictions for threatening behaviour, burglary, criminal damage and cannabis possession offences.

    He was also handed a five-year ASBO after 'mooning' Chelmsford County Court security guards in 2010, which barred him from visiting Vanguard Way, Trafalgar Road, Fairfield Road and the Jobcentre Plus in Braintree.

    Yet friends have been quick to stress how impressive his turnaround was following a life littered with spells living on the streets.

    He first visited Sanctus for free hot meals in December 2011 and moved into the charity's accommodation last October.

    Up until his death, he was helping serve teas, running errands, mopping floors and helped redecorate the café.

    He was also buying collectables from antique shops in a bid to set up his own business enterprise at car boot sales.

    "They were stupid run-ins with the law," said Caroline of Colin's criminal history.

    "It was mainly shoplifting but he hadn't been arrested for years. His ASBO was the last thing and that was due to come off next year."

    "If I was sleeping on the streets I think I would be arrested."

    Colin was always spotted with his seven-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier, Sweep, whom friend Robert Brown is looking after. "Even when he was homeless, sleeping on the street, he would make sure that dog was fed first, before anything went to him," said Caroline.

    Chris Roberts, 53, who has lived in Sanctus accommodation in Queensland Crescent in Melbourne since returning from a 20-year spell working in Spain five months ago, said: "He was a funny character."

    "All the time he was mucking about, laughing and joking. I can't say anything bad about him."

    Jose Correia Agrela, 29, of no fixed address, appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on October 6 charged with the murder of Colin Evans.

    He was remanded in custody to re-appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on December 1.

    Memorial service to be held at Chelmsford Cathedral for fatally stabbed volunteer Colin Evans

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    A TOP solicitor working for Essex County Council praised the management techniques of Hitler in front of his staff, and earned the nickname 'Piggy Eyes' for the way he ogled women.

    The criticisms were levelled against county solicitor Phillip Thomson during the course of an employment tribunal brought by black ex-employee Evelyne Jarrett, in which she was found to have been unfairly dismissed by Essex Legal Services, overseen by the county council, and discriminated against on the grounds of race.

    The experienced solicitor, who worked as team manager at the Chelmsford offices for two-and-a-half years, was made redundant in April 2012, and claimed her dismissal followed racial discrimination from her managers, harassment and victimisation.

    Her claims were upheld in a reserved judgement delivered by the tribunal on September 19 in which Mr Thomson's credibility as a witness was called into question.

    In their written decision the panel said: "Mr Thomson did make inappropriate references to Hitler, that good practices could be learnt from his management techniques. This aspect to the allegation is upheld.

    "Any positive reference in the work place to Hitler has the potential to be highly offensive to any person of ethnic minority origins because of his responsibility for the murder of millions of such people and for pronouncements of belief in the superiority of people from one race over people from another, or any other.

    "There was a culture of attributing inappropriate nicknames: starting with Mr Thomson as "piggy eyes" (an apparent reference to the way he looks at women), the claimant referred to as "Evil Lyn" and Ms Isaacs as "Miss Tease" which she understandably found very offensive."

    Ms Jarrett, who now lives in Bedford, has called for an independent investigation into ELS, and the actions of the senior management team, but Essex County Council has so far only confirmed it is "in the process of defining what its course of action is".

    Ms Jarrett added: "It has come as a relief that this is now behind me. This has taken a terrible toll on me but I was determined to expose what was going on. The treatment that was meted out to me by ELS impacted on my health very badly.

    "ECC says that it does not tolerate racism so I expect that it will take action to deal with someone who the tribunal found in such a damning fashion to have racially discriminated against me."

    Her solicitor Anthony Robinson added: "I have dealt with many hundreds of employment tribunal cases and much of what came out in the evidence was some of the worst examples of poor treatment, undermining and racial discrimination that I have come across.

    "I too hope that ECC will live up to its published policies on equality and diversity, and take appropriate action to deal with the perpetrators and to clean up the organisation".

    Compensation for Ms Jarrett, in her 50s, is set to be decided at a hearing this month. However, the county council says it is considering an appeal of the judgement.

    A spokesman said: "We are aware of the reserved judgement which the Employment Tribunal has reached.

    "We are shocked and disappointed by its findings and we are considering an appeal. Until that decision is taken we are not in a position to make any further comment."

    Essex County Council solicitor dubbed 'Piggy Eyes' hailed Hitler's management style

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    The polls have opened for the Clacton by-election, which will make history if Douglas Carswell becomes UKIP's first ever elected MP.

    Mr Carswell is no stranger to Clacton, having triggered the by-election himself when on August 28 he defected to Nigel Farage's party from the Conservatives, resigning as MP after four years serving the constituency.

    And the UKIP hopeful is not the only member of the Conservative party to defect to the anti-EU party, last month saw Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless defect and resign his seat - although he too is expected to secure a UKIP victory in the Rochester by-election, which is expected to be held on November 6.


    Andy Graham for the Liberal Democrats

    Howling Laud Hope for The Official Monster Raving Loony Party 

    Charlotte Rose Independent

     Bruce Francis Sizer Independent

     Chris Southall for the Green Party 

    Giles Watling for the Conservatives

    Tim Young for Labour

    Polls close at 10pm.

    Clacton polls open as Douglas Carswell looks set to become Ukip's first elected MP

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    The PVC-clad mystery fundraiser otherwise known as the Gimp Man of Essex was spotted in Chelmsford yesterday.

    Dressed in bondage gear - complete with gimp mask - the charity-minded chap donates money to mental health charity Colchester Mind every times someone poses for a picture with him, and has donated more than £600 to the charity.

    Despite sometimes receiving mixed reactions on the street, gimp man has previously said that he finds most people welcoming once he tells them what he's up to.

    But although the fundraiser thinks people should be open minded, his wife and children have no idea that he is the masked moneymaker raising funds on the street.

    Did you spot the Gimp Man of Essex in Chelmsford?

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