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

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    A Great Baddow man has described his shock and devastation after discovering his sister and brother-in-law had used his name to run up bills totalling around £1million on cars and credit card bills.

    Mark Waterhouse said he felt "totally abused" to find Dawn Palmer, 50, and her husband, Jeremy, 53,had obtained credit using his on his back, only after they had been arrested. 

    The Palmers, of Brentwood Road, Dunton, were found guilty and sentenced on Wednesday (October 22) following a seven-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court.

    Mr Palmer was convicted of 16 counts and jailed for six years while Mrs Palmer was found guilty of five, acting together with her husband. She was locked up for 30 months.

    Speaking afterwards, Mr Waterhouse, 51, said: "I was devastated, couldn't believe it. I'm still shocked to be honest.

    "I had helped them in the past when they had money troubles, they were always borrowing money. I feel totally abused. You don't expect this from your own family."

    The court heard how they obtained credit using his name.

    Between 2002 and 2008 they ran up large credit card bills, large overdrafts and obtained credit on cars including three Range Rover Sports and two Bentleys.

    Mrs Palmer also used her maiden name to obtain further advances against their home address by purporting to earn over £200,000 a year.

    The total amount of credit obtained and losses run up with the bank and on credit cards equates to in excess of £1million

    Mr Waterhouse has not spoken to his sister or her husband since they were arrested in 2011.

    'You don't expect this from your own family': Couple's campaign of fraud and theft against her brother


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    Police are appealing for help to trace the owner of a dog believe to have attacked a flock of sheep in Boxted.

    Two sheep were found dead and other had been bitten when they were found by their owner in his field in Langham Road on Sunday, October 19.

    The following day a large dog, described as a Dogue de Bordeaux and is red/brown in colour was seen in the field.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Pc Paul Buddington at Colchester police station on 101.

    Large dog suspected of biting and killing two sheep in Boxted


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    A young mechanic from Burnham on Crouch, killed after his car slammed into the front of a house and tree in St Lawrence on Tuesday, brought a "ray of sunshine into the lives of all those he met", according to his family.

    The parents of ex-St Peter's School student Christopher McDonald, 20, of New Road, Burnham, said his death on Tuesday (October 21) would leave a huge void in their lives.

    His blue Peugeot 206 which was involved in a collision with the front of a house and a tree in Steeple Road at around 2.30am.

    In a statement released today, his parents said (October 24): "He brought a ray of sunshine into the lives of everyone he met. He has left a huge void in our lives, a void that will be with us forever.

    "He made us smile, laugh and intensely proud. It was always a joy to be with him. This is a great loss to us but we will cherish the time we had with him.

    "The times we shared with him will remain in our memories forever."

    Having left school Christopher attended 'Prospects' College in Basildon where he just starting the third year of a course in engineering and machining,.He was working as a mechanic in Latchingdon.

    He leaves his mother, his father, together with a teenage brother, and young sister.

    "Known as 'gentle giant' to many, not big in stature, but big in his heart. He would do anything to help anyone out. We love and will miss him so so much."

    Police are continuing to investigate the collision and anyone with information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit on Essex Police 101 or they can email collisionappeal@essex.pnn.police.uk

    Tributes paid to St Lawrence house crash death driver Christopher McDonald, 20


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    If you prefer to avoid the scary side of Hallowe'en, there are loads of events happening in Essex which are spooky free.

    Take a look at our suggestions below 

    BEGINNERS BIRDWATCHING WALK

    Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve, New Tank Hill Rd, Purfleet, Essex RM19 1SZ

    Friday 24 October, 10am start

    Tickets: £5 or £4 for RSPB members, children £2 or £1.50 (RSPB), this does not include reserve entry fees.

    Contact: 01708899840

    Visit: www.rspb.org.uk/rainhammarshes

    If you are familiar with the wildlife in your garden but want to broaden your knowledge then come along to the weekly ramble around the Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve.

    Admire the beautiful wildlife amongst friends and family and enjoy a relaxing day out.

    THE GREAT BRITISH JAZZ BAND

    Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB

    Friday 24 October, 7:30pm

    Tickets: £15

    Contact: 020 8502 4701 to check latest times or cancellations.

    More information: www.nationaljazzarchive.org.uk

    Formed in the 1990s as an all-star assembly of British jazzmen, the Great British Jazz Band recorded three best-selling albums and toured their fantastic programme of swing.

    This incredible concert is one of multiple over four weeks running from May to October organised by the National Jazz Archive to raise funds.

    Now is your chance to experience the captivating music from this historic band, you won't want to miss out.

    COMMUNITY FESTIVAL OF MUSIC

    Salvation Army Centre, 70 Baddow Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0DD

    Friday 24 October, 7.30pm to 9pm

    Join Reverend Canon and Carol Smith this weekend as they have been working hard alongside other churches to organise a special event that brings together their community choir with musicians and singers from churches in Chelmsford.

    They will aim to create a musical extravaganza that will appeal to all age groups, so take along your family and enjoy an evening of entertainment at the Salvation Army Centre.

    SILVER JUBILEE CONCERT

    Chelmsford Cathedral Essex CM1 1TY

    Saturday 25 October, 7:30pm start

    Tickets: £12 each and can be purchased from www.essexpolicechoir.co.uk

    Join the Essex Police Choir as they celebrate their 25th Anniversary with a special concert which will be held at Chelmsford Cathedral.

    The Choir will take part in a light-hearted joint performance alongside the Essex Police Band and the Glenfaba Choir.

    The performance will include songs from the shows, some classics and even some fantastic sing-along songs in remembrance of the 100th Anniversary of WW1.

    All proceeds will go to the SSAFA and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

    As this is such a special and popular event, tickets will go fast so make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.

    CHOCS AWAY FOR DANCING

    Leigh Community Centre, Essex SS9 1SP

    Saturday October 25, from 7.30pm until 11.30pm

    Tickets: £7 on the door

    Spend the evening enjoying a throwback from the 1940s and 50s with vintage music and swing jive at Leigh on Sea Community Centre this Saturday.

    The dress code is optional and there will be a bar available for you to use at your leisure

    LEGENDS OF LOVE

    Cramphorn Theatre, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JG

    Sunday October 26, 3pm

    Tickets: £14.50 conc, £13 Group Booking.

    For more information and to book tickets visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres

    The royal apartments of Queen Mekhmene Banu are plunged into mourning as her young sister, Princess Shireen, is dying.

    The princess can only be saved if the Queen gives Shireen her beauty so she decides to sacrifice herself, but the Queen lives to regret her decision as she is left disfigured and the Princess falls in love with Queen Mekhmene Banu's lover, the painter Ferkhad.

    This fantastic tale of forbidden love, self-sacrifice, jealousy and suffering returns to the Crampthorn Theatre this Sunday.

    To check the latest times or cancellations call 01245 606505.

    LOCAL FOOD PRODUCERS MARKET

    Chelmsford City Centre Essex CM1 1DE

    Sunday October 26, from 10am until 3pm.

    Due to last year's incredible success the extremely delicious and fresh Local Food Producers Market is back.

    This unique market gives you the opportunity to support and encourage the local Essex producers to look after the environment and delight your taste buds.

    Buying locally sourced food is good for the local economy and is much more sustainable than importing food from around the world.

    So drop by and become inspired, you can attend the event free of charge.

    WELLBEING WEEKEND

    Marconi Social Club, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 9FH

    Saturday October 25, from 10am until 5pm. Free

    Contact: 01245 269422

    The European Buddhist-Hanmi Association is hosting a wellbeing weekend this Saturday in the main hall at Marconi Club.

    This fantastic event has been to many major cities around the world with over 2 million people attending.

    There will be a healing space in the temple upstairs and relaxing introduction meditation sessions alongside free intro sessions of Yoga, Tai chi, Pilates and many more.

    There will also be an amazing opportunity to listen to talks on Alexander technique and Meditation which will be given by local professionals.

    IMPROV FACTORY

    Ideas Hub, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1XF

    Saturday October 25, 10am to 4pm

    If you enjoy music, drama, comedy, mime or storytelling then the Improv Factory is the perfect workshop for you.

    Throughout the day you will get the opportunity to express your amazing creativity through either solo or group activities and later on show your improvisational skills in front of an audience.

    The workshop is open to all ages and skill levels, so come and discover your hidden creativity this weekend.

    PUMPKIN PLOD

    Haven House Children's Hospice, High Road, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 9LB

    Sunday October 26

    To take part in the 5k plod tickets cost- adults £7, children £5 or £20 per family team.To take part in the 10k plod tickets cost- adults £10, children £7 or £28 per family team.

    Endure a fun family 5 or 10 kilometre walk with exciting themed activities to take part in.

    Come along with your family and friends to enjoy a range of fun pumpkin themed activities before walking through the local streets, dressed as pumpkins, to help raise awareness of Haven House.

    AN HISTORICAL WALK OF MOULSHAM STREET

    Ideas Hub, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1XF

    Monday October 27, 2pm to 3.30pm

    Tickets: £4 on the day, booking is essential.

    Join the host Alan Pamphilon Moulsham on this guided walk as he tells interesting stories about the history of Moulsham Street.

    You will have the chance to learn the little known facts about the buildings and people on what is believed to be the oldest street in Chelmsford.

    Discover how the industrial revolution had a dramatic effect on this peaceful street.

    BIG DRAW

    Hylands Estate, London Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 8WQ

    Monday October 27, 11am to 4pm

    Entry costs £1 per child

    Children and families are welcome come and join in the Big Draw upstairs at the Stables Visitor Centre, Hylands where you will also have the opportunity to meet some of the resident artists.

    This year the theme is environmental 'It's Our World' so try and gather as much inspiration as possible prior to the event.

    Children must be accompanied, booking isn't imperative but spaces may be limited at busy times.

    WEDDING FAYRE

    The Wick Community Centre, Silvia Island Way, Salcott Crescent, Wickford SS12 9NR

    Sunday October 26, 11am to 4pm

    Visit www.thewickcommunitycentre.org.uk for more information on the event.

    There will be a very exciting and fun Wedding Fayre at the Wick Community Centre this Sunday.

    It will give you the chance to support small local businesses by attending the event.

    There will be no entry fee, free parking will be included and you will be able to take some free expert advice from local specialists.

    Local suppliers will also be offering everything that you will need to plan the perfect special day.

    HALLOWE'EN PARTY

    Partyman World of Play Basildon, Unit 14 Repton Close, Burnt Mills, Basildon, Essex SS13 1LJ

    Monday October 27, open from 10am until 6.30pm (Bank Holidays may vary)

    Tickets: Weekends, School and Bank Holidays Under 1s £2, 2-3 years £4.95, 4-13 years £6.95 and adult £1.50

    You must be a member to enter any of the Partyman Venues; family membership is just £5 for life which will allow you entry to all of the playcentres.

    Join Partyman World of Play this Monday for some spooky holiday fun.

    There will be Fabadousa fun on the stage, a Cosmo colouring competition and balloon modelling

    More activities will also be available throughout the week, if you want to see what other things are on visit- www.partymanworld.co.uk/basildon/

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC

    Witham Public Hall, Collingwood Rd, Essex CM8 2DY

    Monday October 27, Matinee performance at 2.30pm and Evening performance at 7.30pm, doors will open half an hour before the performances.

    Tickets: Stalls £11.50, Tiered £13.50, Balcony £11 for more information regarding discounts and special offers visit www.waos.org/box-office/

    Based on the story of the Von Trapp family the show tells the story of a young nun who is sent to look after the children of a young naval office.

    The performance will contain more hit songs than any other Rodgers and Hammerstein musical due to the outstanding success of the film.

    Make sure you don't miss out on the opportunity to see this fantastic production, book your tickets now.

    HANSEL AND GRETEL

    Braintree Arts Theatre, Braintree Sixth Form, Notley Road, Braintree, Essex CM7 1WY

    Sunday October 26, 2.30pm

    Tickets: Standard £8

    Hansel and Gretel aren't greedy; they just want a better life for themselves and their father.

    Their lives are turned upside down with the arrival of an unwelcome visitor who eventually leads the way to a woodland adventure with a large cottage built of gingerbread and cakes.

    The occupant of the cottage promises soft beds and delicious food, but it would appear that she has other plans.

    Hansel and Gretel brings together a collection of amazing things including magic, sets and costumes alongside puppets, illusions and a full supporting cast to wow the crowds. Don't miss this this fun-filled show.

    SPOOKY SECRET ISLAND

    Royal Gunpowder Mills Beaulieu Drive Waltham Abbey Essex EN9 1JY, Sunday 26 October, open 10am-5pm

    Tickets: Adults £9.50, Children (3-15) £7.50, Under 3 years free, Concessions £8.50, Family Tickets (2 adults and up to 2 children) £30.60, book now here

    Celebrate October half term at the Royal Gunpowder Mills with their spectacular spooky Halloween activities.

    Dr Gore will be hosting exciting science shows and cooking up some ghastly experiments in the MadLab.

    A large variety of frightfully fantastic activities will be available for all ages from face painting to hat making, you will be able to transform yourself into a witch, monster or other spooky characters for the day.

    You will discover gruesome stories of times gone by in this interactive, eerie experience, if you dare. 

    17 non-scary things to do in Essex this weekend


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    The most eagerly fixture of the season so far kicks off on Saturday, when Real Madrid meet Barcelona in the first El Clasico since Luis Suarez moved from Liverpool.

    The home side go into the clash on the back of the 3-0 drubbing of Suarez's former side Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League on Wednesday.

    They are two places behind their Catalan rivals, who top the table and are unbeaten after eight games.

    But why is the momentous clash called El Clasico?

    The name merely reflects the fierce rivalry between the two clubs, and is known as The Classic in English

    Originally, it referred only to games between the sides in the Spanish League, but now it appears to have grown to reflect all games, including those in the Champions League and Copa De Rey,

    The fierce rivalry dates back to 1923, when General Miguel Primo de Rivera set up a dictatorship, and cracked down on regional languages and identities. This affected Catalonia, in turn, represented by FC Barcelona.

    But this lasted only seven years before a democratic republic was established. But by this time 'classic' rivalries between the two clubs had spilled out into the games themselves.

    El Clasico is live on Sky Sports 5HD from 5pm on Saturday

    Real Madrid vs Barcelona: What does El Clasico mean and will Luis Suarez play?


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    This is the moment a registered blind man was shoved onto the tracks during a violent confrontation at Chelmsford railway station.

    The CCTV footage, released by the British Transport Police shows Daniel Webster, 23, attack and then push the 31-year-old victim, who is also registered deaf, onto the tracks:

    Webster, from Colchester Road in Coggeshall, then appears to punch out at his victim as he attempts to climb back to the platform during the incident on February 20 this year.

    A passer-by, who is not involved in the confrontation, tries to intervene as Webster lashes out once again.

    Webster was jailed on Wednesday after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm against the registered blind man, and his brother, who is not seen in the footage but who was also thrown to the tracks.

    Both victims were rushed to hospital. The registered blind victim suffered a fractured foot.

    Niall Martin, 24, of Speedwell Road, Colchester, pleaded guilty to ABH against one of the men and was jailed for nine months. He was released this week after serving time on remand.

    Investigating officer Detective Constable Alan Reed said: "This is one of the most appalling incidents I have investigated.

    "Webster and Martin showed a savage disregard for their victims, and one of the brothers is still suffering from the injuries sustained to his foot.

    "It is no exaggeration to say the brothers could have been killed after being thrown onto the tracks.

    Video: The moment blind deaf man is pushed onto tracks at Chelmsford railway station


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    Some might just at look at Chelmsford and mistakenly assume there isn't much to Essex's county town.

    But they would be wrong. The city is a hive of historical facts. So much so, that we've managed to collate 19 of the most interesting.

    See below to see if we can make it to 20!

    1. Britain's first ever public audio broadcast was made from Chelmsford on June 15, 1920. The broadcast featured the singing of Australian opera diva, Dame Nellie Melba. It was said to have been received as far away as Newfoundland

    2. In fact (and this may well be more well known) Chelmsford is the birthplace of radio after Marconi opened the world's first wireless factory in the town in 1899.

    3. Chelmsford was once the capital of England for a few days when the seat of Government was temporarily moved to the town,600 years ago.

    4. Chelmsford was also the home of West Ham legend Sir Geoff Hurst, the only man to ever score a hat-trick in the football World Cup final.

    5. The Romans built a small town on the site of Moulsham - it was called Caesaromagus, which means Caesar's market place, and it was used as a local market town halfway between London and Colchester. However, after the Romans left Britain in 407 the little Roman town disappeared.

    6. Chelmsford as we know it was created in the Middle Ages. At the time the land on the site of the town centre belonged to the Bishop of London and in 1100 the Bishop, Maurice built a bridge across the River Can. As a result traffic which used to travel through Writtle now diverted through Chelmsford.

    7. In 1430 a man named William Caleys was burned to death in Chelmsford for heresy.

    8. In 1566, the first witch trial was held in a secular court in Chelmsford. The suspected witch, Elizabeth Frances, confessed to using a cat called Sathan to harm a number of people but after claiming she had given the cat away she was only sentenced to a year in prison. Unfortunately, Elizabeth later appeared in a second Chelmsford witch trial where she was found guilty and hung.

    9. Chelmsford Cathedral is the second smallest in England, runner up to Derby Cathedral.

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    10. Chelmsford was previously called Celmeresfort.

    11. Henry VIII purchased the Boleyn estate in 1516, and built Beaulieu Palace on the current site of New Hall School. This later became the residence of his then mistress, and later wife Ann Boleyn.

    12. In 2007, the Channel 4 programme "Location, Location, Location" voted Chelmsford as the 8th best place to live in the UK.

    13. The BBC Essex building, in New London Road is said to be haunted by a teenage girl, a nine-year-old girl, a fifteen-year-old boy, an angry old man and an old lady.

    14. Robert the Bruce may have been born in Chelmsford at Montpeliers Farm, in 1274. Well, it is rumoured that he was born here, although some historians claim it was actually his father.

    15. Chelmsford is the second healthiest place to live in the UK according to a study conducted by food supplement manufacturer, Biocare.

    16. Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Adam and the Ants, Siouxie and the Banshees, Oasis and Radiohead have all played gigs in Chelmsford

    17. Charles Dickens was NOT a fan of Chelmsford, as shown by when he paid a visit: "If any one were to ask me what in my opinion was the dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the Earth, I should decidedly say Chelmsford (Letter to Thomas Beard, January 11, 1835; from The Letters of Charles Dickens,1965).

    18: You might have seen the Anne Knight Building opposite the railway station has been refurbished, but how much do you know about her? She was a prominent anti-slavery and women's rights campaigner who hailed from Springfield. She is credited as being one of the leading lights in setting up the first women's suffrage organisation.

    19. Are you familiar with the Island of Mesopotamia? Well, It's a small island in the centre of Chelmsford between the Rivers Can and Chelmer where mock elections used to be held at the same time as General Elections in the 19th century. 

    These satirical events saw two candidates being chosen and voted for. Both would make a witty speech and the losing candidate would then be ducked in the river.

    19 things you didn't know about Chelmsford


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    A council boss has admitted defrauding the taxpayer of £230,000 through bogus contracts.

    David Archer, 56, formerly of Cheviot Drive in Chelmsford, was scheduled to stand trial at Chelmsford Crown Court this week but failed to show, and today (October 24) changed his pleas to guilty.

    The once-respected local government officer first pleaded guilty to obtaining a money transfer of £75,985.45 by deception from Chelmsford Borough Council between June 2004 and January 2007 by falsely claiming work had been carried out by Essex Play Council.

    He also pleaded guilty to fraud, by falsely claiming £156,470.63 in work had been carried out by Essex Play Council on behalf of Chelmsford Borough Council between June 2007 and December 2010.

    But Essex Play Council was an obsolete charity that had remained inactive since 1992.

    Investigations by Chelmsford council also found the bank account for Essex Play Council was in fact registered to his own home address.

    Divorced Archer was first charged after he was rumbled at the council back in February 2013. But a trial has been put off four times.

    On Tuesday, Judge Christopher Ball QC issued a warrant for his arrest and by Wednesday morning he had been located near his home in Nottingham, but was taken to hospital when police found him unwell.

    Eventually today he was escorted to Chelmsford in a security van where, appearing unshaven and more overweight than in his days at the council, he admitted wrongdoing.

    "This was a trial that would have been yours," said Judge Ball, speaking before a jury before dismissing them entirely.

    "The defendant failed to attend although he knew about the trial. Efforts were made to secure his attendance and those efforts were considerable and involved a lot of police activity."

    Speaking after the proceedings, prosecutor Linda Strudwick said Archer was spending 100 per cent more than his income during his offending, and spent an average £1,500 per month on credit cards.

    She told the Chronicle: "His offending was an abuse of his position of trust involving flagrant taking of the council's money.

    "He was living well beyond his means."

    Alison Chessell, insurance and risk manager at Chelmsford City Council, formerly a borough councillor before Chelmsford received city status in 2012, would have stood as the prosecution's first witness in the trial.

    "It's been a lengthy investigation which we have taken very seriously," said Ms Chessell, who said the guilty plea was unexpected at such a late stage.

    "We as witnesses have been deferred multiple times, and it's incredibly difficult, especially considering he is an ex-colleague you are having to give evidence against."

    She added: "He was a senior officer of the council so yes, a very serious offence, and we took it very seriously at the time and have worked very hard, conducting a detailed investigation with police and CPS."

    In the approximate 30 minutes Archer remained in court, defence lawyer Christopher Paxton asked for his client to be granted bail until sentencing so he could tend to his terminally ill partner in Nottingham.

    Judge Ball however refused, and said: "I just don't have that confidence in you because I fear that the emotion of the moment will overcome you between now and next Friday and I fear we will have another pantomime all over again."

    Archer was remanded in custody to be sentenced on Friday (October 31).

    Ex-Chelmsford council boss David Archer admits to £230,000  fraud through bogus contracts


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    Firefighters throughout Essex are set to strike for four days continuously later this month in a long-running government dispute over pension changes. 

    Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are set to walk out between 6pm on October 31 to 6pm on November 4. 

    The dispute also covers the firefighters having to stay on tackling blazes until the age of 60 rather than 55.

    The FBU claimed in a statement that the government was "spoiling for a fight".  

    Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "Firefighters are incandescent following two months of negotiations which have led to no new proposals.

    "Firefighters will not stand by and see our members' pension rights destroyed by a government which does not give a damn about the safety or well-being of firefighters or the long term.

    "The public do not want 60 year olds tackling fires. Everyone understand the stupidity of these plans – except government ministers.

    "We remain committed to resolving this dispute in the interests of our members and the public at large."

    The dispute will cover the Halloween and early fireworks night celebrations, and the Essex Country Fire and Rescue Service is advising people to attend an organised display. 

    A spokesman said: "Essex will once again have strong resilience arrangements in place to protect the county with working crews providing cover. 

    "You can help us to help you in the run up to the strike by making sure your home is fitted with a working smoke alarm and make sure you check on elderly and vulnerable members of your family and neighbourhood to make sure they have one too."

    Fire Brigades Union firefighters to strike in Essex for four continuous days over pensions dispute


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    A QUALIFIED psychologist who speaks four languages has been crowned this year's Miss Essex and will take on the nation at the finals of Miss Great Britain next month.

    Devon Mayson, 22, from Woodham Ferrers is a country singer, a songwriter and a model and sings part-time at weddings and at children's parties.

    The former Anglo European School student is challenging the beauty pageant stereotype having achieved a degree in psychology with neurobiology and she can speak French, German and Russian.

    Devon will compete against 49 other girls from around the UK for the trophy which will see her travel the world with other national beauty queens.

    "I know that I'm representing Essex, which I am proud of, but I don't look like your typical Essex girl, and I don't own any white stilettos," Devon told the Chronicle.

    "To be honest I am a self-confessed geek - I like maths and spider-man."

    At weekends she entertains at weddings and at children's parties with party planners Tinkerbella and this year she has raised money for the Rainbows Children's hospice based in Loughborough.

    The finals, held at the Athena in Leicester on November 14, will consist of a number of rounds, including a catwalk, a talent round and a fitness round.

    And Devon feels that the rounds can represent a beauty queen's true colours rather than just looks.

    "Beauty pageants are not only about looks they are about being the most complete person you can be," added Devon.

    "There is also a new fitness round, so I need to say a thank you to Club Woodham for helping me get into shape."

    Devon entered the competition last year in Coventry but didn't make it through to the national finals until a contestant dropped out.

    After only 24 hours preparation, she came eighth after singing one of the songs she had written.

    Unfortunately Devon's mum Sharon, who volunteers at St Mary's Church in Woodham Ferrers, and dad Andy had already booked a holiday to the States so will not be able to attend the finals – but her little brothers, Harry, 20, and George 16, may attend.

    Devon said: "It's a shame that my parents can't make it. My little brothers may attend though and who would have thought that they would want to see the other contestants in swimsuits?

    "But I don't expect to win and the thought of me winning is scary."

    Although there was no formal audition, judges assessed entrants for Miss Essex by mass interview over the telephone before deciding the candidate.

    Devon has previously sang with all-girl country trio the Wild Blue Roses at the Hammersmith Apollo and as a soloist at the Brownstock festival.

    If Devon wins she would be tasked with representing the UK internationally on a world tour with other beauty queens from around the world.

    "I love to travel, I always have done, so it would be a dream to be able to travel with some of the other winners," she said.

    Multilinguist Devon Mayson in the running for Miss Great Britain title


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    A LANDOWNER has agreed "unconditionally" to sell her rundown car breakers' yard to Jehovah's Witnesses for their new UK headquarters, it emerged this week.

    The International Bible Students Association (IBSA) paid a deposit, agreed a final price and swapped contracts with Charmaine Small this month for Temple Farm in Ship Road, West Hanningfield.

    Ms Small has promised the IBSA – the charity used by the religious sect to distribute its literature – that dozens of car dealers will vacate the 50-acre farm over "the next few months".

    Speaking to the Chronicle, Stephen Morris, of the IBSA branch relocation department, said: "This is a very important stepping stone to one day moving into Temple Farm."

    In an announcement to the Chronicle the IBSA also said it expects to submit a detailed planning application, crucial to whether it can build or not, to Chelmsford City Council by Monday, December 1.

    It proposes building offices, a printing room running off up to 184,000 Christian magazines an hour, a laundry data centre, audio-visual studio, car wash, accommodation for 800 Jehovah's Witnesses, playing fields and plush green floral gardens.

    "We feel very confident this move will happen," added Mr Morris.

    The IBSA agreed provisional terms with Ms Small to buy the land on New Year's Eve 2013 after looking at 308 other sites across the UK.

    Its current location in Mill Hill, London, where it has spent £4.5 million with suppliers within a 25-mile radius in 2011, is spread over a five-mile radius and is expensive to run.

    On Valentine's Day this year the IBSA submitted an application for outline planning permission to the council which was later agreed.

    By the summer the IBSA had already held three public consultations, started weeding and clearing debris, and carried out an ecological survey assessing car battery and car acid contamination.

    "There is quite a bit of contamination on site and there is a lot of site remediation work to do," said Mr Morris.

    "But a lot of that contaminated soil can be buried on site rather than transported to specialist sites elsewhere."

    The IBSA has also purchased the redundant Woodstock Motel in Stock Road for £515,000, and agreed the sale of the nearby Akehurst Tyres business in Bakers Lane, as project bases for contractors.

    In an initial e-mail to the Chronicle, Mr Morris writes: "We are pleased to advise that we are now committed to the Temple Farm site and have exchanged unconditional contracts with the proprietors.

    "Having worked with Chelmsford City Council officers and the site owners, we have established that the task of site regeneration is achievable utilising best environmental practice to restore this Green Belt location. "

    City council cabinet member for planning & economic development Neil Gulliver said: "The IBSA's current site in north London is pristine and beautifully planted with flowers.

    "There couldn't be a bigger difference between what is in Temple Farm at the moment and what they will bring in."

    For more information about the project visit: www.templefarm development.co.uk

    Jehovah's Witnesses put pen to paper on Temple Farm move


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    THE Chelmsford City Racecourse chairman has denied its former owner is involved in its revival after allegations published in a Private Eye article.

    Joe Scanlon claimed John Holmes, who ended his 12-year ownership of the land when he was forced to announce himself bankrupt owing almost £25 million in 2009, has "no control or influence".

    An October 3 edition of the investigatory magazine claimed Holmes is involved because his son Jonathan, girlfriend Jill Turner and "right-hand man" Gary Disley are all shareholders in Bet Solutions Ltd, which part-owns the racecourse.

    It also claims the council planning application for six generators and six liquefied petroleum gas tanks at the ground, submitted on August 4 and approved four days later, was written in Ms Turner's handwriting.

    She is on bail, along with Mr Holmes, of nearby Moulsham Hall Lane, over allegations of a £2.4 million VAT fraud connected with the racing industry.

    Mr Scanlon said: "John Holmes has no control or influence over the day-to-day management of the racecourse and what he does in his private life and what is then printed in Private Eye is nothing to do with us.

    "He can be an adviser to the other shareholders, he is not barred from doing that, and that is a matter for them.

    "We run the racecourse and make the decisions that need to be taken."

    Controversial ex-owner 'not involved' in new Chelmsford City Racecourse


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    THE mother of X Factor contestant James Graham has urged judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to stop making "ridiculous" and disheartening comments.

    The 18-year-old from Bicknacre squeezed through to the third round of lives shows on Sunday with his eight-piece band Stereo Kicks after the public vote found them languishing in the bottom two.

    Cheryl dampened their spirits after their Saturday performance after saying she was "distracted" by the abnormal number of band members.

    "Cheryl's comment was just ridiculous," said James' mother Paula, 47.

    "Her own career started from being put into a band and I just think she should give people a chance.

    "Their singing is spectacular most of the time, and it's a singing competition, so I would tell her to stop complaining about the number of singers and listen to the vocals.

    "I'm confused as to where those comments of 'fresh, fresh, fresh' at the Boot Camp stage went to and are now 'I don't like eight of you in a band'."

    The band sang Don Henley's Boys of Summer in front of a capacity Wembley Arena crowd on Saturday as part of the 80s-themed week.

    Their mentor Louis Walsh labelled the performance "amazing" but Cheryl retorted: "All of you individually I know you can all sing, I've seen that throughout the process, but on here I'm distracted, I'm not focused."

    On results night on Sunday the band received the fewest number of public votes alongside Chloe-Jasmine Whichello but won the sing-off, performing I'll Stand By You, with the judges' approval.

    Paula also said that considering the band's song choice was changed three times up until Thursday night, and that James could barely speak due to suffering a cold, the octet performed brilliantly.

    "The amount of followers and fans they have built up is amazing," said Paula.

    "When they go to the studio or out they get absolutely mobbed so who knows whether they can win or not, the public can be easily swayed."

    James, a former Sandon School and Priory Primary School pupil, will return to TV screens on ITV1 at 8pm on Saturday evening.

    X Factor James Graham's mum blasts Cheryl's comments as 'ridiculous'


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    FIVE youths have been arrested on suspicion of drug offences and stealing a car after a two-car crash in Witham last night.

    A police helicopter was scrambled at around 8pm and ground cars were on the scene at 7.45pm after the collision in Powers Hall End.

    The police helicopter was used to help track down a 22-year-old man and an 18-year-old man from the town who had fled from the Saxo after the crash.

    A force spokesman said: "Police attended in Witham following reports from a member of the public that there had been a road traffic collision between two cars.

    "Officers attended and discovered a white Citroen Saxo and a grey Ford Focus had been in collision with each other.

    "A number of youths were arrested at the scene and the police helicopter was used to locate two others who had decamped from the Saxo.

    "A 16-year-old boy from Chelmsford, an 18-year-old man from Chelmsford, two 15-year-old girls from Maldon and a 19-year-old man from Haringey, were arrested at the scene on suspicion of drug offences.

    "A 22-year-old man and an 18-year-old man from Witham were also arrested in the area at around 9pm on suspicion of taking a motor vehicle without consent.

    "They are currently helping police with their enquiries at Chelmsford and Braintree police stations."

    Five arrested for drug offences and stealing a car after two-car crash in Witham


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    Police are concerned for the safety of a teenager missing from home in Chelmsford now for more than a week.

    Courtney Anderson was last seen at her family home in Norfolk Drive on October 17. She is described as white, around 5ft 2ins tall and has very long brown straight hair.

    Inspector Paul Morton, of Chelmsford Police, said: "We are concerned for Coonurtney's safety and her family are worried about her. 

    "We believe she may be with a boyfriend in the Barking or Forest Gate area.

    Anyone who may have seen her or who knows where she is should get in contact with Essex Police on 101.

    Concern for missing Chelmsford girl Courtney Anderson, 16


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    Chelmsford City 0 Barnet 0

    (FA Cup, fourth round qualifying)

    CHELMSFORD City will travel to The Hive for a replay on Tuesday night after holding Vanarama Conference Premier table-toppers Barnet to a goalless draw at Melbourne Park in the FA Cup.

    The Clarets more than held their own against their higher step visitors and had a couple of chances to win the game. Although they did require some great saves from on-loan Rotherham United goalkeeper Tony Thompson to keep them in it at a couple of crucial points in front of the crowd of 1,844.

    For both sides the prize was £12,500 from the FA and a potential money-spinning first round proper clash against a Sky Bet League One or Two side.

    On paper it was a tough ask for the Clarets, with Barnet sitting at the top of Vanarama Conference Premier table, with just three defeats from their opening 18 competitive fixtures of the season.

    There were three former Bees lining up for City against their old club, with Mark Hughes and Lee Sawyer in the starting XI and Nicky Nicolau on the bench.

    Hughes in particular was singled out by Barnet boss Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen ahead of the game as one of his 'all-time favourite ever players'.

    The 31-year-old former Northern Ireland international provided Barnet with one of their most important goals in recent years, a cracker against Burton Albion in 2012 that sealed a 2-1 win and kept the Bees in the Football League that year.

    Allen has a framed photograph of the two hugging at the end of that game in his house.

    One of City boss Mark Hawkes' toughest selection dilemmas on the day was whether to keep Niklas Freund as his cup goalkeeper or select Thompson, who starred on his debut in the 3-2 league victory at high-flying Havant & Waterlooville. He plumped for the experience of Thompson in the end.

    Among the outfield players Robert Girdlestone came in for the suspended James Love, Mark Haines, who had been rested against Havant, came back into central defence with one of the goalscorers at Havant, Marvin Ekpiteta, dropping to the bench.

    Allen, in his fourth spell at Barnet, said in the week that he would pick the strongest side he could for the cup clash and the 49-year-old former QPR and West Ham man was true to his word.

    Sam Hoskins was the only change to the starting XI from their 3-0 Vanarama Conference Premier win over Braintree Town on Tuesday night.

    The Clarets certainly weren't overawed by their higher league visitors in the opening exchanges. A smart turn by Michael Cheek almost sent him away, but he didn't have the pace to run clear on goal.

    At the other end Hoskins headed over from a Luisma Villa cross.

    From a Joe Ward corner on eight minutes, Chelmsford midfielder Christian Smith sent a powerful header over the crossbar.

    Hoskins fired in a low shot that was comfortable for Thompson, before the Clarets had a great opportunity to open the scoring on 15 minutes.

    Rohdell Gordon, who was looking bright in the left, picked out Cheek with a low cross and although the striker couldn't connect properly first time, he picked up the loose ball and turned and shot into the side netting of former Arsenal goalkeeper Graham Stack's goal.

    The hosts survived two close calls within the space of two minutes. First John Akinde flicked a ball into the path of Villa in the box, but he sliced his effort horribly over with the net beckoning on 26 minutes.

    Then from a corner, big Barnet defender Bondz N'Gala was inches away from touching home the ball as it fizzed across the six-yard box.

    Gordon was a constant pain for Barnet down the left and kept jinking inside from the wing. On 34 minutes, his low cross with the outside of his right boot was just out of the reach of the onrushing Ward.

    Allen was clearly not happy with this side, constantly bellowing from the touchline, and he brought the goal threat of Lee Cook on for the second half, replacing Villa.

    On 54 minutes, a quick Barnet break culminated in Hoskins squaring for Bees skipper Weston, but he could only poke the ball into the arms of the diving Thompson.

    Moments later the powerful Akinde muscled his way into the box, but curled his shot over the crossbar the left.

    A spell of pressure on the Barnet goal ended with a Gordon shot over the crossbar from the crowded penalty box.

    Injury forced Mark Haines out of the action for Chelmsford on 65 minutes, with Ekpiteta coming off the bench in his place.

    Thompson pulled off a big save on 70 minutes blocking David Stephens' point blank header from a corner with his leg.

    Allen threw 16-year-old Matt Stevens into the action for Hoskins, before Hawkes sent on Evans Kouassi for Ward.

    Chelmsford were still creating the odd chance and Cheek saw a far post header fly just wide from a deep free-kick before Yads Mambo did the same with 10 minutes to go.

    Cheek had a great chance on 85 minutes when Kouassi beat his man down the right and squared for the striker, but his shot was blocked by a defender's leg just inside the box.

    Cook tested Thompson with a low shot, which the keeper held expertly, scrambling to his left.

    The goalkeeper again proved his credentials late on, palming away a Mauro Vilhete shot from inside the box before the Barnet man curled a strike from distance on to the crossbar and over.

    There was some frantic defending in the final moments, but Chelmsford hung on to secure the replay trip.

    CHELMSFORD CITY: Thompson, Girdlestone, Redwood, Hughes, Haines (Ekpiteta 65), Mambo, Sawyer, Ward (Kouassi 73), Gordon, Cheek, Smith. Subs not used: Morgan, Callander, Nicolau, Barham, Freund. Att: 1844.

    Chelmsford City force FA Cup replay with Barnet as Rotherham United loan goalkeeper stars again


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    The X Factor returns for its third week of live shows tonight on ITV - with the contestants tasked with singing tunes from the movies.

    Bicknacre singer James Graham, part of the eight-strong Stereo Kicks band, has endured a tough week. First, Cheryl Fernandex-Versini's lukewarm reaction to their performance, and then Louis Walsh was forced to play down rumours the group could be culled.

    They'll be hoping for a better time of it on tonight's show, with their version of The Beatles classic Let it Be/Hey Jude.

    See below for who is performing what in tonight's show

    The Boys

    Jack Walton -Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor from Rocky 

    Jake Quickenden - She's Like The Wind by Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing

    Andrea Faustini - Listen by Beyoncé from Dreamgirls  

    Paul Akister - Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding from The Commitments

    The Over 25s

    Ben Haenow - I Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith from Armageddon 

    Fleur East - Lady Marmalade by Pink, Mya, Christina Aguilera and Lil Kym from Moulin Rouge 

    Jay James - Skyfall by Adele from Skyfall 

    Stevi Ritchie - Footloose by Kenny Loggins from Footloose

    The Girls

    Lauren Platt - Let It Go by Demi Lovato from Frozen 

    Lola Saunders - When You Believe by Mariah Carey from The Prince Of Egypt

    The Groups

    Only The Young - Boom Clap by Charli XCX from The Fault In Our Stars 

    Stereo Kicks - Let It Be/Hey Jude (Medley) by The Beatles from Across The Universe            

    The X Factor is on tonight on ITV at 8pm

    What time is the X Factor on ITV tonight? See who performs what


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    FREEPORT Braintree suffered a power cut this morning (October 25) leaving many of the shops shut while the fault was resolved.

    Restaurants and the cinema were not affected but all the shops were unable to serve customers for around two hours.

    Shoppers reported that the problem began at around 9am and was fixed by 11am.

    Staff at the Charter Way shopping centre could only confirm a power cut had taken place and the it was "not for long", but could not say how it was caused.

    According to a member of the security team the problem has been fixed and power has been fully restored.

    Freeport Braintree shops shut for two hours after power cut


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    WITHAM Town's dream of an extended FA Cup run died as they lost 2-1 at home to Vanarama Conference South side Weston-super-Mare in the fourth qualifying round today (Saturday October 25).

    After Witham took an early lead through Kurt Smith, the Gulls fought back and were the better side with their crisper passing and they were 2-1 up by the 54th minute.

    However, from the middle of the second half the hosts came more into contention and were denied an equaliser by referee Michael George.

    A 73rd minute shot was handled on the line by Weston's Jacob Cane and substitute James Robinson turned the ball into the net.

    However, Mr George blew up for a penalty as well as sending off Cane.

    Robinson stepped up but his shot hit the crossbar and went over.

    Witham did threaten again but they could not conjure an equaliser and after the final whistle home captain Paul King argued with Mr George about why he did not play advantage for the penalty.

    Earlier, the anticipation from the home supporters was palpable before the kick-off at Witham's tight ground and a big cheer greeted both teams when they came onto the pitch for the start.

    It was a tentative start before Witham gained a big boost when they took the lead in the seventh minute.

    Kurt Smith was fouled on the left-hand side, and James Stevens' free-kick into the box saw Smith beat Gulls keeper Luke Purnell to nod home.

    Witham exerted more pressure before the Somerset side settled more.

    Home keeper Martyn Guest had to punch away a 13th minute corner in a crowded box shortly before a free-kick was nodded wide.

    The hosts stood off too much in the 21st minute but Ryan Bath, off-balance, fired wide from 12 yards.

    Weston continued to have the edge but Witham looked dangerous on the counter.

    Midway through the half Smith broke on the left and made good ground but his intended ball to an unmarked Emmanuel was intercepted.

    Then a 28th minute free-kick for Witham fell loose before Lewis Godbold fired wide.

    The visitors re-asserted themselves with a good period of play before they equalised.

    Home defender Seb Murfet was fouled and the free-kick was cleared for a corner and this was cleared for a second consecutive flag kick.

    From this, the tall Clayton Fortune rose powerfully at the near post to head home Dayle Grubb's 36th minute corner.

    Shortly after a Witham attack saw Wraight fire wide but the Somerset side continued to look the better in possession.

    Guest dived well to keep out shots from Cane and Gus Mafuta.

    It was 1-1 at half-time.

    The Gulls continued to have edge after the break and a 25-yard Joe McClennan shot forced an excellent diving save from Guest in the 47th minute.

    Witham's Connor Mead was booked for a foul on McClennan and the free-kick was cleared before the Somerset second goal went in in a strange fashion in the 54th minute.

    A fierce shot from Mafuta was stopped by Guest, and Brad Stopher, facing his own goal, turned it past Guest into his own net.

    Town boss Garry Kimble made two substitutions shortly after, bringing on Shammy Pedulu and Usman Adeniji for Stevens and Smith.

    Pedulu proved a handful with his pace and dribbling.

    Aaron Brown wasted a good chance for the Gulls when he shot straight at Guest before a Witham break saw Pedulu shoot across and wide.

    The action switched to the other end as Mafuta shot against a post before Alec Fiddes shot straight at Guest.

    Witham were unlucky in the 73rd minute when a goalbound shot was handled by Cane on the line before substitute James Robinson turned the rebound in.

    However ref Michael George pointed to the penalty spot before sending off Cane.

    Robinson stepped up and fired his penalty onto the crossbar and over.

    Witham kept pressing with Pedulu's pace a constant threat.

    In injury time a half-cleared home corner saw a Mead effort brilliantly tipped over by Purnell.

    WITHAM TOWN: Guest, Mead, Murfet, Stopher, P King, Blackman, Emmanuel, Stevens (Adeniji 56), Smith (Pedula 56), Godbold (Robinson 67), Wraight. Subs not used: Towndrow, Watson, B King.


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    CHELMSFORD City boss Mark Hawkes believes his Clarets can overcome Barnet at The Hive in Tuesday's night's FA Cup, fourth round qualifying replay after watching them hold the Vanarama Premier side to a goalless draw at Melbourne Park.

    City were superb on Saturday afternoon against Martin Allen's table-topping Bees and Hawkes maintains his side will go into the replay with the same confident attitude.

    "We won't be overawed on Tuesday. We'll set ourselves up and have a game plan. The players will know their jobs and we'll go again," he said.

    "Today will give us confidence and more belief. I believed that when I turned up at 12pm today that we could win this game and I've still got that belief that we can get through."

    He added: "Everybody outside of the four walls of our changing room didn't really give us a cat's hell of a chance today. However, we're organised, we've got desire, we've got quality and we've got some pace, everything you need. Today we'll have even more belief.

    "We had great support, a great crowd and a good atmosphere. I think it was a good game of football where either side could have won."

    Hawkes paid tribute to the 1,844-strong crowd and hopes that some new Clarets fans will stick with them for their league campaign.

    "The crowd were superb. We always get good support, home or away. There's people coming here for the first time this season, perhaps at our next home game in the league we can put a couple of hundred on the gate as I think we've proved to the people of Chelmsford that we've got a decent side," he said.

    "We play with energy and commitment, it's entertaining football, so a cup run's good, but when it comes to the bread and butter of the league, I hope we get more through the gate."

    Chelmsford looked very solid despite Barnet's bulldozing striker John Akinde proving a menace all match.

    The City boss was delighted with his players, including on-loan Rotherham United goalkeeper Tony Thompson, who pulled off some fine saves, and midfielder Christian Smith, who marshalled the midfield.

    "Tony has played the last two games and made three or four good saves. We've gone to a three in midfield and Christian was simply superb today. I thought he was the man of the match for us. He controlled the game for us.

    "We've got energy in there with Mark [Hughes] and Lee [Sawyer] and with Michael [Cheek] we've got a big target man to play off of."

    He added: "There were two different formations today, but two teams who wanted to play off the big man, pick second balls up and play in each other's half. I think both clubs will be happy to be in the draw, both clubs could have won, but both could have been out.

    "There's an incentive now to go and play at a nice new ground at Barnet. Their pitch is superb. I went there in the week. Hopefully there will be another big crowd there. Both teams will know who we could have in the next round and that will be an incentive."

    On injuries to Joe Ward and Mark Haines, which saw the duo come off in the second half, Hawkes said: "I don't think they're serious, just old injuries reoccurring. I think everyone will be fit and we'll be ready for Tuesday."

    The FA Cup will be made on Monday, with Sky Bet League One and Two sides entering the fray, and the Clarets manager is hoping for a big side to come to Melbourn Park in the first round proper, if they can beat Barnet on Tuesday night.

    "You've got to look at the clubs in and around Essex really. It would be good to be at home to Colchester or Southend, Orient will be in it," he admitted.

    "If you don't get one of those clubs then you want a real big one, the likes of Portsmouth or Sheffield United, the real big clubs in this part of the competition.

    "We've still got another game to play though, another 90 minutes. It will be nice to know who we could play in the first round, but we've still got a very difficult tie ahead of us."

    Hawkes confident Chelmsford City can beat Barnet in their FA Cup replay


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