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

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    Drivers talking on a mobile phone is the number one cause of road rage in Essex and across the rest of Britain, according to new research.

    Over three quarters (76%) of British motorists said seeing drivers using a phone whilst at the wheel was the most annoying sight on the roads. It also puts motorists at greater risk, with one in four car crashes linked to drivers using a phone1.

    Also making the top 10 were being tailgated (74%) and road users not indicating (70%). Potholes - of which there are over 2 million on British roads2 - and bad parking also appear on the list compiled by used car supermarket Carcraft.

    The UK's top 10 causes of road rage

    1. Drivers on their mobile phones
    2. Being tailgated
    3. Road users not indicating
    4. Potholes
    5. Slow drivers
    6. Traffic jams
    7. Bad parking
    8. Middle lane drivers
    9. Roadworks
    10. Cyclists

    The findings are the result of a poll, using the UK's first road rage gauge, an online test which asked 2,000 drivers from across the UK to rate how different events made them feel while driving3.

    The Road Rage Gauge also identified that drivers in Leicester are the angriest in the country, with a 25% higher anger rating than the rest of the country. Brighton and Bristol residents came in second and third.

    The UK's 10 angriest cities to drive in

    1. Leicester
    2. Brighton 
    3. Bristol
    4. Cardiff
    5. Stoke on Trent
    6. Coventry
    7. Preston
    8. Norwich
    9. Liverpool
    10. Nottingham

    Colin Houlihan, CEO of Carcraft, said: "Driving for many is no longer an enjoyable experience and is now just a means of getting from A to B. 

    "It's particularly interesting that the typical causes of road rage such as roadworks and middle lane driving are lower down the list. However we're sure the growing menace of potholes will only infuriate more motorists as we approach winter and the conditions of British roads continue to worsen."

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    The North Springfield Walk in centre will close in March 2015 in favour of a new Urgent Care Unit to be located at Broomfield hospital.

    The future of the walk-in centre, based near the Sainsbury's superstore, was settled at an MECCG public committee meeting on November 27 at the Chelmsford Civic Centre in Duke Street, Chelmsford.

    The committee voted to close the facility which will save the MECCG in the region of £1m a year in favour of a new pilot urgent care unit operating out of Broomfield hospital.

    The GP surgery based at the site will remain in operation.

    The closure comes as health chiefs are looking to save £41.6 million by 2019 despite more than 30,000 patients visited the clinic in the past year.

    The MECCG, which manages the annual budget for doctors, dentists, pharmacists and opticians in the communities of Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon, hopes to balance its books at the end of 2017/18 by saving £6m next year, £11.6m in 2015/16 and £8m in 2016/17.

    North Springfield walk-in centre set to close in NHS shake-up

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    A former Chelmsford children's home worker, who sexually abused six children more than 40 years ago, has been jailed for eight years.

    John 'Jock' Cowan, 72, of Littlebourne, Hither Green, Lewisham SE13, was found guilty at Harrow Crown Court of ten counts of historic indecent assault and one count of gross indecency, committed between 1971 and 1973.

    It is known Cowan previously lived and worked in and around Chelmsford in the early 1970s.

    Detectives are now appealing for more victims to come forward following the conviction after he was found guilty yesterday (Thursday, 27 November) and was sentenced today Friday, 28 November.

    The offences took place at a children's home in Ealing where Cowan worked as what was known as a house father for two years before he left in 1973.

    On Thursday, 3 January 2013, a woman attended Shepherds Bush police station to report an allegation of sexual assault against Cowan that happened when she was aged seven or eight in around 1971 and 1972 in the attic of the home.

    She told police she believed Cowan had abused more children in his care.

    Enquiries led detectives to identify further victims from the children's home, five women aged between five and 10 at the time and a man, then aged six.

    The man described how on more than one occasion Cowan had taken him from his bed saying the boy needed the toilet. Once inside the bathroom, Cowan sexually assaulted him.

    Cowan was traced and arrested on Friday, 26 July 2013 and subsequently charged.

    Investigating officer Detective Constable Cathy Hewitson, from the Child Abuse Investigation Team at Northwood, said: "Cowan took advantage of his senior position at the home to abuse a number of vulnerable children, the majority of whom had already suffered heartache and trauma in their short lives and should have been in a trusted environment.

    "I praise the courage of the victims in coming forward and reliving this very difficult period in their lives, forced to give evidence in open court by Cowan's refusal to admit to his crimes.

    "Cowan worked in a number of children's homes in Essex, London and Scotland from the 1970s onwards. It is highly likely there are other victims out there who perhaps have felt too scared to come forward before or thought there was little point given the passage of time.

    "Today's conviction proves it is not too late to bring Cowan to justice and I would ask anyone with information to contact us in confidence."

    He had also worked in Linlithgow near Edinburgh in the late 1970s and Renfrew near Glasgow and early 1980s.

    The jury heard that Cowan has 24 previous convictions for sexual offences against children.

    He was jailed for 12-and-a-half years in 1994 on 16 counts and is on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

    Anyone who can help is asked to contact the Met's Child Abuse Investigation Team on 0208 246 1901/3 or, to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

    Former Chelmsford care worker jailed for eight years for child abuse committed in the 1970's

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    Aldi Foodstore



    Oil and Vinegar UK

    Al Murad

    Warren Evans

    Multiyork Furniture

    Karcher (UK) Ltd


    American Golf

    Steamer Trading Ltd

    Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare

    Joules Clothing Ltd

    Phase Eight

    Vets4Pets Ltd

    Hawkin's Bazaar

    Farrow & Ball

    A1 Requirement


    L'OCCITANE en Provence

    JoJo Maman Bebe



    Gadgets4UK Retail Ltdl

    Oxygen Red Ltd

    Champneys Forest Mere Ltd

    Cats Protection

    Dr China


    Costa Coffee


    Roosters Piri Piri

    Caffe Nero

    Dominos Pizza Group

    Rush Hair


    David Lloyd Leisure Plc

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    BIG brands are clamouring to set up shop in Chelmsford, with 37 different companies, including Ecco and Phase Eight, currently interested in opening stores in the city.

    The brands feature on a list of retail, leisure and financial services firms that includes Warren Evans, JoJo Maman Bebe, L'Occitane, Rituals, Champneys Luxury Spa, and Farrow & Ball, and the new stores are expected to open within the next two years.

    It is hoped that the additions will turn Chelmsford into a retail hub, potentially drawing visitors away from premier shopping destinations such as Westfield Stratford, Lakeside and Bluewater, and retain city shoppers.

    The addition of new major brands to the city would be thanks in large part to the financial success of Chelmsford's current retailers, explained Chelmsford City Council cabinet member for planning and economic development Councillor, Neil Gulliver.

    "Success breeds success. Most major brands in Chelmsford say the stores here are among the highest performing in the country for those companies.

    "People don't just come to shop any more, so it is important that we have restaurants, cinemas and so on, so that people stay. It's day tourism.

    "It seems that the major retailers like to cluster together, and it means a city centre can bring in the footfall and then the individual shops just have to worry about getting people to come through their doors."

    The new brands were identified in the city council's 2014 Retail Capacity Study this month, which showed that the minimum amount of floor space required to house the retailers is 10,783 square metres.

    However, the council said that there would be no need for new buildings to make room for the additional shops – instead suggesting some of them could make use of empty premises in the city centre, the number of which is higher than the national average.

    Neil Jordan, senior planning officer for Chelmsford City Council, said: "It's safe to say with new brands and developments we are expecting an increase in footfall."

    Many of the higher-end brands on the list may find a place in Aquila Holdings' Bond Street retail development, whose centrepiece is the highly-anticipated John Lewis store, which is expected to open in 2016.

    "The city as a whole will benefit from new stores," said Aquila development consultant Neil Ridley, who said that at least one of the 37 brands, L'Occitane, had been confirmed in a unit within the retail development.

    "At the moment the offering isn't big enough in terms of variety or quality, so people will go to regional shopping centres instead. But this development gives people a viable local alternative. The reasons all the brands are coming here is the strength of the indigenous people."

    Big names queuing up to help Chelmsford challenge shopping giants

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    With more than 50 per cent of people set to do at least half their Christmas shopping online this December, Essex Police has launched a festive online fraud campaign to raise awareness of the crime.

    The 12 Online Frauds of Christmas kicked off yesterday, on Black Friday, which marks the beginning of the busiest four days of the year for online shopping.

    The campaign will highlight a different kind of cybercrime every day, and Essex Police is working in partnership with the City of London Police, the NationalPolicing Lead for Fraud, to shine a light on the do's and don'ts of online shopping.

    Essex Police Superintendent Keith Davies, head of Fraud investigation, said: 'We fully support the campaign and it supports all the work we are putting out about fraud prevention. We want to highlight to the public that fraud isn't just a scam it's a crime. Our fraud awareness leaflet is available for everyone to download on our website"

    The police hope the campaign will go some way towards preventing the online fraud that has the potential to ruin Christmas for tens of thousands of people across the UK.

    After highlighting the dangers of Black Friday' the campaign will move on to 'Cyber Monday' (Dec 1) which will focusing on the hazards of opening Christmas e-Cards sent via email that, unknown to the recipient, may be carrying a virus that can embed itself and then corrupt your smart phone, tablet or laptop.

    Every 24 hours for the next ten working days, Essex Police will be working with 37 other local police forces and a range of public and private sector organisations to flag up the threat of ten more online festive frauds, as identified by the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The December running order is:

    Nov 28: Online shopping fraud

    Dec 1: Christmas e-cards

    Dec 2: Auction fraud

    Dec 3: Holiday fraud

    Dec 4: Loan and investment scams

    Dec 5: Ticketing fraud

    Dec 8: Donating to charity

    Dec 9: Mobile malware/malicious apps

    Dec 10: Money transfers

    Dec 11: Social media scams

    Dec 12: Dating/romance scam

    Dec 15: Mobile payments

    City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the National Police Economic Crime Coordinator and is overseeing 'The 12 frauds of Christmas' campaign, said:

    "Easy access to the internet has revolutionised the way we shop and pay for Christmas gifts and festive breaks, and how we go about searching for a New Year romance. Unfortunately it has also made us vulnerable to crooks that specialise in creating online cons that lure people in with the promise of cheap deals and stress-free purchasing, or that corrupt our smartphones, tablets and lap tops with computer viruses.

    "The key to staying safe this December, and throughout 2015, is to understand the nature of the threat we face and to have easy access to information that will keep us out of the clutches of cyber-fraudsters.

    "This is why we have created the 'The 12 online frauds of Christmas' and set-up a unique law enforcement and public and private sector partnership that I believe can deliver the campaign's key information and safety tips to millions of people who will be using the internet over the next few weeks in search for the best possible gifts and the most stress free festive period."

    For more information, visit

    Police warn of false greeting cards and computer hacking with 12 online frauds of Christmas campaign

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    ON SUNDAY the Mayor and Mayoress of Chelmsford, Councillor Bob Villa and his wife Valerie reopened Chelmsford Amateur Boxing Club's gym at Harway House in Rectory Lane.

    Together with Maureen Miller, the widow of a former ambassador of the boxing club, Bob Miller, they cut the claret ribbon after the generosity of local businessmen completed phase one of the refurbishment.

    Nathan Jenner of SMB Group said: "Myself, Paul Mercer and some of my friends saw how the gym had run down and was in dire need of restoration, although what endeared me to the club was the atmosphere created by all of the volunteers working hard with the boys, girls, men and women.

    "The training, the discipline and respect shown by every individual. I have been proud to have organised the rebuild and thank all my friends that have helped create a modern gym with modern facilities, including fresh changing rooms, toilets and showers."

    Bob's brother Leslie, who also attended, said: "Bob will be looking down at this moment very proud. In 1974 he was in the same place announcing the reopening of Harway House, so it is a poignant time for us all."

    Grant Riley the club's chairman said: "These are great times for the club, the boxers look sharp and ready for our charity boxing dinner at Boreham House on Thursday (tonight).

    "Five of our boxers will be competing along with seven open class elite matches with boxers coming from all over South England including Finchley, Southend, Welwyn Garden City and Sevenoaks boxing clubs.

    Chelmsford's matchmaker Graham Park said: "This has been a new experience for me with many phone calls made making matches then losing matches, but in the end it looks as though Thursday will be a blockbuster of a night.

    "As well as some good wins for our Chelmsford boxers we hope to raise money for the club and Helen Rollason."

    Mayor and Mayoress reopen Chelmsford Amateur Boxing Club's refurbished  gym

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    Supermarket chain Asda is set for another day of discounted shopping as it releases more bargain deals for what it is calling "Black Saturday".

    Customers in Chelmsford who joined in yesterday's Black Friday scramble at the supermarket to bag discount TVs and other electronics will be pleased to know they have another day of deals to enjoy.

    The Walmart-owned chain will entice customers in today with bargain deals such as a tablet on sale for less than £30, and a flat screen TV for under £100.

    There will also be more offers available from other store online, as retail giants such as Amazon have set aside the whole weekend to sell cut-price goods, and experts are predicting this weekend will see the busiest four days of online shopping this year.

    Asda set for Black Saturday as another day of bargain deals commences

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    The days of the dreaded three-point turn may be numbered, as the government has announced plans to shake-up driving tests.

    Rather than manoeuvres such as reversing round a corner or turning in the road, learners are expected to be asked to perform more realistic tasks during their tests - such as using sat nav, heating the rear windscreen and reversing out of a parking bay.

    It is expected that around 1,000 learners will trial the new-style of exam, which will better reflect the conditions drivers experience on the road, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency of what will be the biggest change in the tests in almost 20 years.

    However, motoring groups have encouraged the government not to scrap the three-point turn, insisting that it is a useful tool for drivers if they get stuck down a dead end road.

    People in the UK have had to pass the driving test since it was introduced in 1935, but over the years it has evolved to represent the roads and situations drivers are most likely to encounter.

    Other proposed changes involve: Doubling the length of the independent driving part of the practical exam, asking drivers to leave and then re-join the flow of traffic, following directions on a sat nav and carrying out several basic safety checks before driving, one of which could include using the rear windscreen heater.

    Learners to be tested on sat nav and windscreen heating as Government announces shake-up of driving tests

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    Bishop's Stortford 4 Chelmsford City 3

    (FA Trophy, third qualifying round)

    BISHOP'S Stortford returned to winning ways, but only just, after Chelmsford City fought back in a thrilling finale to their FA Trophy derby clash.

    It was Rod Stringer's men who walked away with the £4,000 pot of prize money and a place in the next round after a pulsating seven-goal affair.

    The Blues looked up for it from the start and deservedly took the lead on 19 minutes with a Ryan Auger half-volley.

    They doubled their lead six minutes before the break when a long throw-in by Johnny Herd was flicked on and bounced in off City midfielder Christian Smith as he was challenged by Auger.

    It was 3-0 on 56 minutes when Sheldon Sellears capped a superb slaloming run with a curling shot past the goalkeeper.

    A fantastic volley from Auger made it four, before Michael Cheek struck one back from close range and City substitute Jason Williams netted another with 10 minutes to go.

    Then things really hotted up when another Clarets substitute, Yado Mambo, fired home after a penalty box scramble.

    For Stortford, new signing Cheye Alexander had come straight into the side at right-back, with Ashley Miller on the bench. Club captain Anthony Church was also back on the bench following his lengthy injury lay-off.

    For the Clarets, Marvin Ekpiteta, Rohdell Gordon and Cheek came into the side for Mambo, Williams and the cup-tied John Sands.

    City entered the match with confidence after fighting back to beat Bath City the previous weekend, while the Blues were keen to shake off the after-effects of losing at bottom side Staines Town on the same day.

    Clarets goalkeeper Bradley Watkins showed remarkable confidence early on, despite last week's gaffe against Bath which saw him carry the ball over his own goal line, as he dribbled around Simmonds on the edge of his own box.

    Simmonds could have got his own back moments later when he found space after Mikel Suarez's clever lofted pass, but the striker slipped at the vital moment and scuffed his shot wide.

    The opening goal came on 19 minutes. After a foul on Frankie Merrifield, Spencer McCall whipped a free-kick into the box and Suarez's looping header bounced down off the crossbar to Auger, who smashed it home on the half-volley into the top left corner.

    It was all Stortford as Suarez ran through on 27 minutes, but was denied by the onrushing Watkins.

    Then the big striker, who was winning everything in the air, sent a header just off target from another McCall free-kick after a foul on Sheldon Sellears, which saw Lee Sawyer booked.

    Sawyer was probably lucky to stay on the pitch on 39 minutes, booting the ball away after running it out of play near the dugouts. The fact that the Clarets coaching staff caught the ball effectively ensured he only got a talking to from the referee Christopher Pollard rather than a second yellow card.

    The second goal came on 39 minutes. Herd's Rory Delap-esque throw was headed on in the box and the ball rolled in off the unfortunate Smith.

    The visitors almost got straight back into the game a minute later with their best chances of the half coming within a split-second of each other. First, David Gregory pulled off a flying save from Michael Cheek's first-time shot and then Mark Hughes' follow-up shot was blocked by a covering defender.

    Clarets boss Mark Hawkes had seen enough and sent on Williams and Leon Redwood for Gordon and Smith for the second half.

    Simmonds struck a low shot just past the left-hand post moments in, before Mark Hughes headed inches over from a corner at the other end.

    On 53 minutes, McCall's corner was nodded into the arms of Watkins by Simmonds.

    Sellears then took his moment to shine 11 minutes into the half, jinking past a series of players before curling a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the City net.

    Gregory came out to block Redwood four minutes later, with the Chelmsford players appealing for a penalty as they felt he had taken the man before the ball, but the men in black were unmoved.

    A driving run by Joe Ward culminated in a blocked shot before the hosts pulled further ahead on 68 minutes. 

    Simmonds broke down the right and pinged a low cross into the centre which Auger caught perfectly on the volley and sent flying into the middle of the City goal, with Watkins grasping at thin air.

    The visitors pulled one back two minutes later as the Blues' defence dithered and after a blocked Williams shot the ball rebounded for Michael Cheek to slot home via a deflection.

    City hit another back on 80 minutes as a ball over the top found Williams, with the Stortford defence waiting for an offside flag that never came, and the little striker controlled the ball with his chest and slotted home.

    Auger had a couple of chances to complete his hat-trick, but was denied on each occasion by Watkins.

    Then Mambo popped up in the 90th minute to set up four minutes of frantic added time but it was Stortford who held on.

    BISHOP'S STORTFORD: Gregory, Alexander, Herd, Merrifield, Bailey-Dennis, Anderson, Sellears (Melaugh 86), McCall, Suarez (Sykes 71), Simmonds (Young 69), Auger. Subs not used: Miller, Church.

    CHELMSFORD CITY: Watkins, Girdlestone, Nicolau, Hughes, Haines, Ekpiteta (Mambo 82), Sawyer, Ward, Gordon (Williams 45), Cheek, Smith (Redwood 45). Subs not used: Love, Freund. Att: 522.

    Bishop's Stortford edge out Chelmsford City in Trophy thriller

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    Battling Braintree Town lost away at the Kingfield Stadium to Woking thanks to a goal from winger John Goddard.

    The single goal proved enough though Braintree can be proud of their effort against a side 11 league places above them in the Conference Premier.

    In terms of performance you could pretty much choose your phrase to separate the two sides – a cigarette paper, a lick of paint or an outstretched hand on the last Black Friday television.

    Both of the sides had to deal with midweek losses and stand-in Braintree captain Kenny Davis showed his side's intent early a rasping shot turned wide by Woking keeper Ross Worner - signed on emergency loan from AFC Wimbledon this week.

    Jack Marriott shot wide as Woking broke for their first real chance of the half. He then crossed for Kevin Betsy to head over when no one was around him.

    The home side continued to mount pressure on Alan Devonshire's side and the boss was "gutted" for his side after the game. "I think the boys deserved something," he said.

    A bright spot for the away side was right-back Mitch Brundle who marshaled Woking's main outlet Dean Morgan, whose style of play was as flashy as his haircut.

    Worner was proving his worth. Woking's new signing used an outstretched left hand to keep the scoreline goalless from a Davis curler.

    It was a long-range shot from Woking winger Goddard that did manage to break the deadlock after 38 minutes though.

    His left-footed volley from 20 yards stumbled inside the far post through a crowded penalty area when the away side failed to clear a free-kick.

    Just before half-time Simeon Akinola shot wide from the edge of the box for Braintree. He had looked the Irons' best outlet for most of the game.

    The left-winger often provided the speed of thought that is not often matched with one who shows such fleet of foot.

    Braintree did begin to pepper the box for the opening ten minutes after the break but Worner was commanding under the high ball.

    He showed the physical presence of a rugby player as he continually claimed the aerial bombs that Irons' widemen Akinola and James Mulley were putting into the box.

    Keeper Nick Hamann was called into action for the first time in the half when he turned replacement Woking forward Guiseppe Sole's shot round the post low to his left.

    Inside the last quarter of an hour Sean Marks, tireless up front for the Irons', thundered a header just past the post from an Akinola free-kick.

    Braintree became more urgent in the final few minutes, though it felt like that came too late and they could not create the clear-cut chance they needed to pick up a point.

    "We need to get some goals and that's what we'll be working on in the break," said Devonshire.

    The Irons now have two weeks off before their FA Trophy first round game, which is still to be drawn. 

    Braintree slip to narrow defeat at Woking

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    A £500,000 project to extend a Chelmsford school has been given the thumbs-up by parents and residents ahead of a formal submission to planners.

    A steady stream of people dropped in to an exhibition of the plans to extend and remodel Oaklands Infant School to provide space for another 30 pupils from next September.

    Representatives from Essex County Council and building contractors Hutton were on hand at the Old Moulsham school to answer questions about the project, which will see a new classroom built and the hall extended, enabling it to up its roll from 150 to 180 pupils.

    Among those who dropped in on Monday last week was Marcia Payne, who taught at the school for more than 20 years. When she started there, the school had 120 pupils in three classes.

    She said: "I'm in favour of the extension as it will make the school a two form entry and will mean no more mixed-age classes. However, I am concerned there will not be enough playing space for the children as the new classroom takes up some of the playground.

    "My solution would be to put artificial turf on the grassed playing area so it can be used all year round."

    John Wilson, who lives next door to the Vicarage Road school, had concerns about a further increase in the amount of cars.

    He said: "Over the years the number of parents who drive to the school has increased. At drop off and pick up times you sometimes cannot get down the street there are so many cars.

    "But I have no objections to the plan as I think it would be good for the children. I think the ideal answer would be if the school site could be expanded so there would be more room for the children to play outside – and for parking."

    Another local resident, Steve Campen, said: "I run a business from home so am here to find out the scale of the building work and the amount of noise and disturbance it will bring.

    "The school is obviously very popular and I am pleased for the children that they will just be taught within their own year group."

    Essex County Council has been given Government funding to provide 240 extra places in the city centre for children starting school next September due to a rise in the number of families needing places.

    A spokesman for the authority said: "We had a good number of people visit the exhibition and their comments were overwhelmingly positive.

    "We have worked closely with head teacher Cheryl Allard coming up with the design and have offered to turn the soft play area into a hard playground that can be used all year."

    The plans for the extension at Oaklands are due to be submitted for planning permission on Wednesday next week.

    The school, for four to seven year olds, is graded outstanding by Ofsted and is vastly oversubscribed.

    Plans are currently before Chelmsford City Council to extend Moulsham Infants by 90 and Moulsham Junior School by 120 places.

    If given the go-ahead, work on all three schools will take place in the spring and summer next year.

    Oaklands Infant School growth plans supported

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    A LABOUR activist has received an MBE for nearly 50 years of political campaigning.

    Eileen Davidson was appointed MBE by Prince Charles last Friday in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace for her tireless work in Kelvedon and Feering.

    She has been a member of the Labour Party since the age of 14, helping with elections, leafleting and fundraising.

    Ms Davidson, who lives in London Road, Feering, first found out she would receive an MBE when she was named on the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June.

    For more than 20 years she has worked with the Eastern Region Labour Party and for the past seven years she has also chaired the Regional Labour Party in the East of England.

    She is also the women's officer for both Braintree and Witham Labour Parties.

    Eileen, who moved to Essex from Scotland 28 years ago, almost got in trouble with the Buckingham Palace organisers after chatting to Prince Charles for too long.

    "He's told why we've got the award and a bit about us and when he saw I was from Dumfries he was telling me all about Dumfries House, which he effectively saved," said the 61 year-old.

    "We were told to walk off as soon as he shook our hand, but he was talking to me a bit longer.

    "I was a bit nervous, but it was great to meet Prince Charles as well as some of the other people getting awards, who had interesting stories to tell."

    Eileen was joined by her brother who came down from Scotland to be there and her partner Peter Long, who is the Witham Labour Party election agent.

    "Hopefully this award will encourage people to think that being involved in politics is a worthwhile voluntary activity.

    "At a time when politics has a bad name, it's good to show that it can be positive and people can make a difference if they take part, I especially hope it encourages women to get involved."

    MBE for Feering's Eileen Davidson after 50 years in politics

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    X FACTOR star James Graham has said he can win the ITV show with his band Stereo Kicks and become the first Essex winner since Matt Cardle in 2010.

    Last weekend the Bicknacre teenager sailed through with the final five acts of the competition after his eight-strong band sang Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

    And now James, who first appeared on our screens on Saturday, September 6, with his superb first audition as a soloist, feels that his band can go all the way and win the TV talent contest.

    "It's very tough at the moment," James told the Chronicle. "I think that if you would have asked me 'can we win the competition' in the first few weeks I would have said 'no'.

    "But we have grown into the competition. And now my mind set is 'why not?'

    "I think it took the X Factor a while to get their heads around the fact there are eight of us. We are different to every act out there and that may now work in our favour."

    This week Stereo Kicks will perform two tracks – which means twice the harmonies, the practice, the choreography and the stress - so James has been working hard all week to ensure a perfect performance.

    The 18-year-old said: "It's amazing to get this far and this is the first week we will have to perform two songs, so it will be stressful I'm sure.

    "We're really finding our feet. We had to fight at the beginning and now we are performing well."

    One of the songs they will perform will be Snow Patrol's Run, which they sang earlier in the series, but the other will remain a secret until the last minute.

    This week has been pretty tough for the former Sandon School pupil who has said goodbye to two acts, including fellow Essex performer Stevi Ritchie, who he had become particularly close to.

    And James, who is easily recognised for his high hairstyle, has agreed to have a night out in Essex with the Colchester crooner – to what James consider's Bicknacre's finest pub – The Two Brewers.

    "We were disappointed that Only The Young left this week," said James.

    "They were good friends as they were in the same category as us and the same age – the house is becoming pretty quiet now."

    And when the teenager finally returns to Essex he is looking forward to a night out as he has only turned 18 while on the show.

    "I'd never really tried to go clubbing before so to go on a night out in Chelmsford would be a totally new experience," he added.

    X Factor James: 'We can go on to win the show'

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    CHELMSFORD County High School for Girls' junior team made both of their finals at the English Schools Swimming Association's National Secondary Schools Team Relays on Saturday.

    The girls finished fourth in 4x50m freestyle relay and sixth in the 4x50m medley relay at the London Aquatic Centre at Queen Elizabeth Park.

    The team, made up of Scarlett Morine from Year 7 and Year 8s Megan Samuels, Lauren Cott, Milly Ward and Rebecca Watt, went up against schools with swimming scholarships, who train twice a day and have their own 50m pools.

    For the freestyle relay the girls qualified fourth fastest in the heats with a time of 2mins 01.31secs.

    They matched that position in the final but in a time exactly a minute slower.

    In the medley relay the girls swam the fourth fastest time again in the heats, finishing in 2.17:43.

    However, in the final they were slightly slower finishing sixth out of the ten finalists in a time of 2.19:15.

    School's junior girls' team makes national swimming relays finals

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    Twitter users created the hashtag #omgwereallgoingtodie after sinister sounds were heard in the sky above the UK last night.

    Thousands of people all over the country, from Essex to Angelsea, took to Twitter last night complaining about the loud bangs they heard outside, between 9pm and 10pm.

    The noise was similar to that reported by people in Essex back in June, who were left bewildered after a loud noise was heard above the county when jets from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire responded to a distress signal from a flight bound for London Heathrow.

    However, while authorities were quick to confirm that the noise heard back in June was a sonic boom, which happens when an aircraft is flying faster than the speed of sound, and happened last month as well when two jets intercepted a latvian plane in UK airspace, Ministry of Defence staff said they were unaware of anything of this nature occurring last night.

    A question mark from the MOD led many users on social media sites to question whether the sounds were something sinister, with several using the hashtag #omgwereallgoingtodie

    Others suggested that space debris could be responsible for the noises.

    OMG we're all going to die, say twitter users, as loud bangs and explosions across country leave thousands worried

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    A man's body has been discovered floating in the River Crouch near Burnham.

    Police officers were contacted by Thames Coastguard at 3.15pm on Thursday after yachtsmen reported seeing the body floating at the mouth of the river.

    The man was wearing a wetsuit, and is though to have been in the water for some time, although it is not known how he came to be in the water or how he died.

    His body has been taken to Colchester General Hospital, the Coroner's office was informed and a post mortem examination will be held. The man has not been identified and his death is being treated as unexplained.

    DS Lydia George, of Colchester CID, said: "We do not know who this man is and would urge anyone who has any information to contact with us. He was a well-built man with a short ginger beard and long ginger hair. He was wearing a full-length black wetsuit which had a blue Mystic logo on the right arm of the sleeve."

    Anyone with information should call Essex Police on 101.

    Man's body found floating in river near Burnham, police appeal for information

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    The Black Friday effect is set to continue tomorrow, with shoppers in the UK predicted to spend £650 million online in what is being dubbed "Cyber Monday".

    Many online retailers have already promised more discounted offers for tomorrow, with those participating including Amazon (whose Cyber Monday sales last year eclipsed its Black Friday take home), Asos, Microsoft, and Marks and Spencer.

    While Black Friday was predicted to be the biggest shopping day of the year, the amount of stores offering discounted shopping online tomorrow (particularly for electrical goods) could be the biggest online shopping day of the year - with customers in the UK predicted to spend a massive £6,000 per second tomorrow.

    Cyber Monday predicted to bring in £650 million from UK shoppers, who will spend £6,000 per second

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    CASES heard by Chelmsford and Colchester magistrates from Thursday, November 6 to Tuesday, November 11.Sent to prison BEN WILLIAM PATIENT, 25, of Bird Lane, Tiptree, was sent to prison for eight weeks for breaching a restraining order imposed on July 1 by sending four letters to a woman when he was prohibited from doing so between August 21 and October 14. It was a serious offence because it was second time he had breached the order and was committed whilst in prison for the first breach. He must pay an £80 victim surcharge.Suspended sentence ASA JOHN HAWKES, 37, of Church Hill Rise, Springfield, was given a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, for assaulting another person by beating her at Chelmsford on October 19 while drunk. It was a sustained attack on a victim in her own home, which caused injuries and the defendant had previous convictions for violence against the same victim. He must participate in Building Better Relationships, attend appointments with a responsible officer, and carry out 80 hours of supervised, unpaid work within the next 12 months. He must also pay an £80 victim surcharge and pay £85 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Criminal justice - assault ANANDARSA MOHANARSA, 43, of Bourne Court, Colchester, was given a 12 month conditional discharge after assaulting a female in Chelmsford on September 12 by beating her. He must pay a £15 victim surcharge and £50 costs to the CPS. TOMASZ JOZAF SIKORA, 34, of Causeway, Maldon, was given a community order for assaulting another person by beating her at Maldon on September 6. The defendant must attend appointments with a responsible officer, carry out 200 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, and was given a restraining order forbidding him from contacting the person or to attend Fitch's Crescent in Maldon. He must pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. TIMOTHY SEAN DOWLEY, 28, of Knights Road, Rochester in Kent, was given a community order for assaulting a women at Maldon on October 15 and causing criminal damage to property to the value of £65 belonging to her at Maldon on October 15. He also resisted a Police Constable in the execution of his duty on October 17. He was ordered to have treatment for drug dependency for six months, participate in a Domestic Abuse Programme for 60 days, and attend supervised appointments with a responsible officer. He must pay £65 compensation in addition to a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. KEVIN DAVID KNIGHT, 39, of Bekeswell Place, Galleywood, was given a community order for assaulting another person by beating him at Braintree on May 4 and destroying a pair of glasses to the value of £125 belonging to the victim. The defendant must attend appointments with a responsible officer, pay £125 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and £200 costs to the CPS. JAMES LEE PURCELL, 27, of Trelawney Estate, London, E9, was given a community order for assaulting another person by beating her at Braintree on February 19 and causing criminal damage to an iphone to the value of £500 belonging to the victim. He was ordered to participate in Domestic Abuse Specified Activity for 25 days, attend supervised appointments with a responsible officer, and carry out 100 hours of supervised, unpaid work within the next 12 months. He must pay £100 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and £500 costs to the CPS.Breach of order JODIE LISNEY, 18, of Jeffreys Road, Cressing, was fined £20 for failing to attend a supervised appointment on October 2 in accordance with a community order imposed on March 11. Drugs - possession SAMUEL DENNIS LEE, 26, of Gardners, Great Baddow, was given a community order for possessing eight and half tablets of methylenedioxymethyl amphetamine, a controlled class A drug, and 56 milligrams of ketamine, a controlled class B drug, at South Woodham Ferrers on August 31. The defendant must carry out 80 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. He must forfeit the drugs and have them destroyed. STEVEN COOPER, 29, of Notley Road, Braintree, was fined £37 for possessing 0.2 grams of crack cocaine and 0.5 grams of diamorphine, both class A controlled drugs, at Braintree on October 23. He must forfeit the drugs and have them destroyed and pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. Firearms MICHAEL DAVID MCDONALD, 23, of Tennyson Road, Chelmsford, was given a new community order for having an air pistol in a public place, at Main Road, Broomfield, on October 24 while subject to a community order imposed on September 9 for a similar offence was in place. The defendant was placed under a curfew for 30 days, with electronic monitoring, and was ordered to participate in an accredited programme for 20 days and attend supervised appointments with a responsible officer. He must pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. Harassment PAUL DEAN HAWLEY, 47, of Gandalfs Ride, South Woodham Ferrers, was given a community order for stalking and harassing a woman at South Woodham Ferrers between August 8 and October 3 by attending her address and repeatedly texting her. His actions caused her serious alarm or distress and had an adverse effect on her usual daily activities. He was ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, and was given a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting her or attending Harvest Close at South Woodham Ferrers. He must pay a £60 victim surcharge and pay £85 costs to the CPS.Public order LEWIS BRADLEY WILSON-MARTIN, 22, of Yare Avenue, Witham, was fined £50 for using threatening or abusive words or disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress at Witham on October 5. He must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. He was also fined £50 for possessing 1.8 grams of cannabis, a controlled class B drug, which must be forfeited and destroyed. Theft – shoplifting KARLIE BEGLEY, 26, of Bramble Road, Witham, was fined £73 for three counts of shoplifting. She had stolen meat to the value of £60 to £70 on July 17, 18 and 19, all from Morrisons at Witham. She must pay £200 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and pay £85 costs to the CPS. PETER SYDNEY WARNE, 25, of Lupin Drive, Chelmsford, was given a community order for stealing groceries to the value of £11 from Marks & Spencer and four CDs valued at £30 from HMV in Chelmsford on August 23. The defendant must have treatment for drug dependency for six months and attend appointments with a responsible officer. He must pay a £20 fine, a £60 victim surcharge and £30 costs to the CPS. DARREN LEA TAYLOR, 43, of Spinneywood, Laindon, was fined £150 for stealing a man bag and three bottles of fragrance to the value of £327 from Debenhams in Chelmsford on July 27. He was also fined £500 for failing to surrender to Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on August 12, having been released on bail in criminal proceedings on July 27. He must pay a £50 victim surcharge and pay £85 costs to the CPS. Theft - trespass CHRISTOPHER JOHN NAGAR, 38, of Lynmouth Avenue, Chelmsford, was fined £75 for trespassing at Big Cars Ltd in Chelmsford on November 13 and stealing a wallet to the value of £15 and contents. He must also pay a £20 victim surcharge and £95 costs to the CPS. Theft – other EVOL CHRISTOPHER HAUGHTON, 44, of John Mace Road, Colchester, was given a community order for stealing an Apple iPad to the value of £312 belonging to Anglia Ruskin University at Chelmsford on August 19. The defendant must attend supervised appointments with a responsible officer, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. Drink-driving PAUL JOHN LANNEY, 36, of Farthing Close, Braintree, was banned from driving for 22 months for driving along Avenue East at Great Notley on October 25 after he had been drinking. The proportion of alcohol measured 81 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, more than double the limit. He was fined £280 plus a £28 victim surcharge and must pay £85 costs to the CPS. NATHAN MICHAEL HELM, 23, of Maldon Road, Latchingdon, was given a 12 month driving ban for driving along Collingwood Road at Witham on October 26 after he had been drinking. The proportion of alcohol measured 46 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, in excess of the limit. He was fined £200 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and pay £85 costs to the CPS.Careless driving ABIOYE OSENI, 28, of Warley Close, Braintree, was given eight points on her licence for driving without due care and attention at Braintree on June 18. While driving along the B1256, Coggeshall Road, she drove into the back of a stationary vehicle at a red traffic light, which pushed into the rear of another vehicle. Damage was caused to all three vehicles and the occupants of the middle car. She was fined £110 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs. She also pleaded guilty to driving with a provisional licence, unsupervised and without displaying L plates.

    Named and shamed: a round up of cases heard by Essex magistrates

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    It was Essex versus Essex on the X Factor this evening as Bicknacre's James Graham saw his band Stereo Kicks booted off the show after losing the sing-off to Billericay's Lauren Platt.

    The boys gave it their all, singing I won't give up by Jason Mraz, but after the judges couldn't pick between the two acts, the vote went to deadlock, and Lauren sailed through to the next round of the show.

    Louis and Mel B had voted to keep Stereo Kicks in the competition, but Cheryl and Simon opted to save Lauren, meaning the decision went to the public vote.

    Prior to the sing-off, Lauren had said she was gutted to be going up against her best friends, and the boys were clearly distraught to be leaving the show.

    Stereo Kicks had previously been in the bottom two more than once, but finally lost out to Essex girl Lauren. The eight-person group thanked their fans and vowed that they would keep on going after the show.

    Essex versus Essex as Stereo Kicks leave the X Factor after sing-off with Lauren Platt

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