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

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    Marks and Spencer has warned customers they could be forced to wait for gifts, after it suffered problems with its delivery service.

    The delays have reportedly been caused by a backlog of orders on Black Friday, which became the busiest shopping day of the year.

    M&S has also been forced to suspend its next day delivery service.

    A Marks & Spencer spokesman said: "Our customer is always our top priority and that is why we've extended some of our delivery options.

    "The vast majority of orders are delivered on time. If we do miss a delivery date, we will do all we can to rectify it for the customer."

    It comes as predictions estimate up to £750million will be spent online today in what has already been dubbed Manic Monday.

    This is 40 per cent up on this time last year.

    Will your Marks and Spencer order be ready for Christmas? Store faces backlog on Manic Monday

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    Arsenal will face stiff competition from Manchester United to nab Dutch defender Ron Vlaar away from struggling Aston Villa in January.

    Vlaar has been out of Villa's last four league matches after suffering an injury on international duty but his performances for his country during this summer's World Cup brought admirers to Villa Park.

    No deal materialised in the summer but it is understood that Arsenal and Manchester United are both still interested in making a move for the defender.

    Vlaar has come out and openly admitted he can't commit his future to Aston Villa and is unsure what will happen if a club comes in with an offer.

    An offer of £8 million is reportedly what Aston Villa would want in return for their dutch international.

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    CHELMSFORD City have signed Harlow Town centre-half Michael Toner.

    The 29-year-old has made 27 appearances for the Ryman North leaders since joining them from Heybridge Swifts in August.

    Toner will add extra cover to City's back line with Mark Haines set to be out for up to six weeks, after sustaining a fractured eye socket in Sayurday's 4-0 win over Hemel Hempstead Town in the Conference South.

    Chelmsford City swoop for Harlow Town's Michael Toner

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    Tottenham have reportedly joined the long list of admirers of Celtic defender Virgil Van Dijk and are prepared to make a bid in January.

    Spurs will be looking to offload a handful of players in January including Jan Vertonghen and will be looking to recuperate some of the money made from that sale with a move for the Dutch-man.

    In Spur's favour is their new head of recruitment Paul Mitchell who they nabbed from Southampton last month.

    He was responsible for Southampton's capture of Victor Wanyama and Fraser Forster from Celtic and his connection with the Scottish club will surely hand the advantage over to the North London club.

    Bids were made by various clubs in the summer for Van Dijk, including Southampton, but no deal materialised and the defender admits his head was scrambled by the on-going talks but it is believed that when the upcoming transfer window opens, he'll be ready to negotiate a move.

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    One of the victims of a fatal two-car collision in Gosfield Road yesterday was a teenager from Braintree.

    James Simmons, 18, of Hillside Gardens, was the back seat passenger of a Volkswagen Polo. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

    The driver of a Ford Fiesta involved in the collision also died at the scene. He has been identified as David Bradley, 30, of Beckers Green Road.

    Two other people in the Polo, a man in his 20s from Gosfield, and a 16-year-old girl from Braintree remain a critical condition in hospital.

    A woman in her 20s from Suffolk, who was the front seat passenger from the Fiesta, was taken by land ambulance to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford with serious injuries.

    Police are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to contact them, as well as anyone who saw the pre-incident driving of the cars, to contact officers at the Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 101 or email

    Gosfield Road crash death victims named as David Bradley and James Simmons (updated)

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    New research from has revealed that Brits would prefer to spend their free time sleeping rather than going on a romantic date with their partner. According to the study, a third of Brits would choose to take a nap if they had a few extra hours leisure time whereas only 13% would choose to spend this time socialising with their other half. UK partners may be feeling suitably put out, as 1 in 5 people would rather spend their free time hitting the gym and 18% would prioritise catching up on work over a date night with a loved one.

    These findings are a result of research from, revealing that people in the UK are wasting over 39 hours each year waiting for frustratingly slow technology to complete everyday tasks, with some individuals wasting as many as 121 hours (or five full days) a year. For the whole of the UK, this equates to a staggering 2.1 billion hours of wasted time each year.

    For those who reported that they had wasted time on slow computers, over a quarter said they would rather spend this time cooking a family meal, and 24% said they would prefer to spend more time with their children. 42% would simply like to catch up on TV or a movie. Thinking about the 39 hours of wasted time each year, this could equate to: 78 bedtime stories for children, 39 family meals, 26 gym sessions, 16 movies or 10 date nights.

    Roddy McLean, a computer upgrade expert from, said: "Families and couples today have such busy schedules and often find it difficult to make time for each other, without everyday annoyances such as slow-running technology adding to this problem." He continued: "A simple computer memory upgrade is quick and easy to complete and will speed up a slow laptop or PC – with the overall hours saved, people can spend more time with family or keep their partner happy by treating them to a few extra date nights."

    It appears that Brits may benefit from some quality time with their partners as the research showed that 14% of couples have even argued over the use that one or both of them makes of technology and, surprisingly, more than 1 in 10 (11%) people claimed to spend more time at home with technology than with their significant other. Half (50%) of people admitted that they spend more time using technology at home than a year ago and almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed believe that they are spending too much time using technology such as laptops, PCs and tablet devices.

    Top things people would like to do with the time wasted on slow computers:

    Watch TV/a movie


    Take a nap


    Cook a family meal


    Spend more time with children


    Go to the gym


    Catch up on work


    Read my child a bedtime story


    Go for dinner/drinks with friends


    Go on a date with their partner


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    TEN men Witham Town suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat at Grays Athletic in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

    Witham were up against it from the start and it did not help matters much when after 39 minutes defender Conor Mead was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.

    Grays had an early chance when Dumebi Gb-Dumaka was put though but shot wide with just the keeper to beat. Both Luke Callendar and Lewis Godbold shot over for Witham, this being the visitors' best effort.

    Mead then received his marching orders after a couple of tussles with Joao Carlos albeit 50-50 challenges yet Witham held on to keep the game scoreless at half-time, in fact Tom Wraight shot just over from two free-kicks just outside the area.

    The big and physically powerful home side had a good spell directly after the break with Gb-Dumaka heading in two corners in the 52nd and 62nd minutes and Fredrick Ladapo heading in a free-kick in the 54th minute.

    Witham were disheartened and for a while lost their way, making all their substitutions and although they did their best to get back in the game they could not prevent Grays from going further ahead when Ladapo dribbled through and shot under Martyn Guest with four minutes to go. 

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    A mystery National Lottery winner from Colchester has just days to collect an unclaimed ticket if they want to collect a prize worth £389,998.

    The search is still on to find the owner of the winning ticket, who matched all six numbers in the Lotto draw on June 21 this year,

    The winning Lotto numbers on that date were 3, 7, 13, 17, 27, 40 and the bonus ball was 19. The lucky ticket-holder has until18 December, 2014 to make their claim1.

    A National Lottery spokesman said:"Time really is running out for the winner of this prize, but we are still hopeful that someone will come forward at the very last minute to claim the money.

    "We're urging everyone to check their old tickets one final time or look anywhere a missing Lotto ticket could be hiding. This life-changing prize could really help to make dreams become a reality for someone out there."

    If no-one comes forward with the winning ticket before the prize claim deadline, then the prize money, plus all the interest it has generated, will go to help National Lottery-funded projects across the UK. 

    In Colchester alone 820 individual National Lottery grants have been awarded to help projects across the arts, sports, heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary sectors.

    Anyone who believes they have the winning ticket for any of the National Lottery draws within the 180-day deadline should call the National Lottery Line on 0845 910 0000.

    Anyone concerned about lost or unchecked tickets may like to consider either setting up a National Lottery Subscription or playing online at

    National Lottery: Could it be you? £400k ticket goes unclaimed in Essex

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    The NHS walk-in centre in next to Sainsbury's in Springfield will close for good in March. The popular facility, used by around 30,000 people in the last 12 months, will go as part of plans to slash £41million from the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group's budget. Here, medical director of NHS North Essex, Donald McGeachy, explains the decision I'd like to thank the Essex Chronicle for giving us the opportunity to talk directly to you, not just as patients we see in our surgeries and hospitals, but also as the public we care for to the very best of our ability every day across the NHS.

    I have to address our most recent decision taken last week to close the walk-in service at the North Chelmsford Healthcare Centre in Springfield.

    This decision is part of a much bigger and more fundamental change in the way we will deliver health care in the area over the next five years.

    We are working with GP practices to look at improving services, expanding the support and advice you receive from your local pharmacies and raising awareness of the NHS 111.

    Part of the first phase of our plans is moving the Out of Hours GP service to Broomfield Hospital – this will give patients quicker access to a wider range of services if they need it.

    We are also working with Broomfield Hospital to make sure that, if you need urgent care, you can see the right people in the right place, first time. We're asking you to help us by making one simple change when you need NHS help or advice – call 111.

    It's FREE to call from landlines and mobile phones and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

    NHS 111 was set up more than a year ago to give advice and support to people when they need it quickly – trained advisers can direct you to the nearest NHS service that's right for you – whether it's your local pharmacy for self-care, a GP service or, if it's an urgent need, they can dispatch an ambulance for A&E.

    Myself and my colleagues would also like to use this column to share health advice and tips too.

    At this time of year, I see many people in surgery who have a winter cold or sore throat who ask for antibiotics.

    So what's the best advice I can give you if the seasonal sniffles strike?

    Stay at home, get plenty of rest and fluids and make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet to help ease those aches and pains.

    Visit www.midessexccg. to find your nearest pharmacy.

    North Chelmsford walk-in centre closure: GP services 'to be improved', health chiefs say

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    The potential for gusts of up to 60mph have been forecast to batter Essex later this week.

    Met Office forecasters have issued a yellow weather warning for the entire east of England region for Thursday night (December 11) into Friday (December 12).

    The heavy winds will then last for much of the day before slowly subsiding from the west by the end of the day. 

    It will coincide with heavy rain and snow over higher ground in Scotland and in the north of England.

    The Met Office chief forecaster said the gales were likely to be severe, with gusts reaching up 70mph around the county's coastal areas.

    "This is a very dynamic situation, and details of this development will likely change," he said.

    "As such, this alert will be updated in the coming days as confidence grows in track and timing of this low pressure system."

    Gales to wreak havoc in Essex as Met Office issues weather warning

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    THREE former carers accused of assaulting and neglecting elderly residents at a Braintree home have denied the six charges of ill-treatment.

    Anita Ray, Adeshola Adediwura and Lorna Clark all appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court today to deny six counts between them of the ill-treatment of dementia sufferer Joan Maddison, who they were caring for at the time.

    Ray, 46, of Challis Way, Braintree, denied the ill-treatment of the 82-tear-old between November 23 and February 8 and assault by beating on November 24 last year.

    Adediwura, 32, of Clockhouse Way, Braintree, pleaded not guilty to ill-treating a person in her care between November 29 and February 3 as well as assaulting Mrs Maddison on February 3.

    And Clark, of Hammond Place, Braintree denied harassment of a person in her care between October 25, 2013, and February 8.

    The 44-year-old also pleaded not guilty to causing Joan Maddison to fear physical violence and handling her with excessive physical force.

    Undercover filming by a BBC Panorama reporter led to the sacking of seven carers, including the three defendants, in May.

    All three appeared in the dock together and were released on unconditional bail until June 15 when the will have to return to Chelmsford Crown Court for a 10-day trial, when expert witnesses will be called to give evidence on care processes.

    Old Deanery care home abuse trio deny assault and neglect charges

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  • 12/08/14--06:27: Kevin Bryan's record reviews

  • "The Very Best of the Drifters" (Metro Select)- This enjoyably dated anthology focusses attention on the Drifters' classic recordings from the fifties and early sixties,including several gems  from Ben E.King's  highly productive stint with the group, including  "Save The Last Dance For Me," "This Magic Moment"  and "There Goes My Baby," the 1959 hit which made revolutionary use of a full string orchestra for the first time on a rock'n'roll record.  Their  constantly shifting line-up meant that in later  years quite a few former members would take  to the stage  in an often vain  attempt to convince audiences that they were  the authentic  Drifters, but the 58 tracks featured here are unquestionably the genuine article, and well worth an hour or so of anyone's time.
    Sad Cafe,"Live" (Cherry Red CDLEMD221)- Sad Cafe's stylish brand of soft rock is captured in all its melodic glory in this undemanding 2 CD set,which was recorded at Manchester's Apollo Theatre over three nights in April 1980. Vocalist Paul Young would later go on to achieve even greater fame and fortune as frontman of the similarly slick Mike and the Mechanics but the soulful Mancunian  was  in particularly  fine fettle at these triumphant hometown shows  as Sad Cafe served up immaculate performances of much loved crowd pleasers such as "My Oh My," "Strange Little Girl" and their most popular  creation, "Every Day Hurts."
    The Korgis, " appointment" (Angel Air SJPCD452)-The newly re-formed Korgis celebrate their return to the fray with the release of a typically tuneful package featuring re-recordings of the best of their repertoire from the late seventies and early eighties. The mildly eccentric Bristolian duo are obviously firm believers in the enduring power of a quirkily memorable melody and some fine examples of their distinctive songwriting style are gathered together here, including  "If I Had You," "Mount Everest Sings The Blues" and their 1980 hit, "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime."
    "Simply Jazz After Dark" (Union Square Music)- This inexpensive 4 CD set explores the more mellow end of the jazz spectrum, boasting no less than seventy tracks from many of the leading lights of the genre during the fifties and sixties. Luminaries such as John Coltrane, Lester Young, Charles Mingus  and Miles Davis all make telling instrumental contributions to the proceedings, and the compilers have also found space to showcase the  vocal abilities  of the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and the legendary Billie Holiday,who chips in with the classic "That Ole Devil Called Love."

    Kevin Bryan's record reviews

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    A man whose body was discovered floating near the mouth of the River Crouch near Burnham has been identified as Stephane Loic Cogez from France.

    The 38-year old, who was from Nord-Pas-de-Calais, was discovered by passing yachtsmen on November 27.

    He was wearing a wetsuit when he was discovered.

    An inquest opening into the death is due to take place at Essex Coroners' Court in Chelmsford tomorrow (December 9).

    Body found floating in River Crouch in Burnham is identified as French national

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    Two people have been remanded in custody in connection with the alleged theft of Royal British Legion poppy collection tins from stories in Essex.

    Anthony Archer, 53, of Ongar Road, Writtle, appeared at Colchester Magistrates' Court today (December 8) charged with 17 counts of theft.

    He was followed by a tearful Roma Taylor, 51, of Cedar Avenue, Tiptree, who was charged with 16 counts of theft.

    Neither entered a plea. 

    Prosecutor Ian Allen said: "These are particularly mean offences and clearly they're offences of dishonesty."

    Defending the pair, James O'Toole asked if Taylor could be given conditional bail, but the request was denied by magistrates.

    The duo will reappear Chelmsford Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on January 6, 2015.

    Man and woman accused of Poppy Appeal tin thefts remanded in custody

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    Stargazers will be in their element this week - with Saturday (December 13) set to bring the peak of the annual shooting star display known as the Geminids meteor shower.

    Clear skies are currently forecast in Essex for those who wish to brave the cold (and wind) to witness the display.

    The best times to see it will be after 10pm, and particularly during the hours of 2am to 4am.

    But what do we know about the Geminids meteor shower?

    1. It is known as the Geminids meteor shower because the elements which make it up are said to come from the Gemini constellation

    2. Unlike other meteor showers - which come from comets - Geminds originate from an asteriod, the 3200 Phaethon

    3. It is ranked as having the most meteors of any annual display, with up to 150 per hour

    4. The types of dust and rock which make it up are also known as the most colourful 

    5. The constellation Gemini rises just after sunset on December 13 and it sets just before sunrise on Sunday (December 14) so the meteor shower SHOULD be visible overnight

    6. Geminids were first seen in the 1800s, after other showers such as the Perseids and Leonids, which were first sighted in AD

    7. When a meteor appears, it seems to "shoot" quickly across the sky, hence the name 'shooting stars'

    What time can you see the Geminids meteor shower? 7 things to know

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    The A120 has been closed in both directions between Colchester and Coggeshall following a serious injury multiple road traffic collision.

    Police and other emergency services are currently at the scene close to Little Tey.

    It comes on the same morning motorists on the M25 have been warned to expect serious disruption all morning as a result of a multi-vehicle collision.

    Motorists are advised to avoid the A120 if at all possible.

    More to follow

    A120 shut in both directions near Colchester after serious multi-vehicle collision

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    Anyone thinking of buying a puppy over Christmas are being advised to check the dog has not come from an illegal source. The advice comes from Essex County Council who say people should follow Essex Trading Standards' advice to avoid getting an illegally imported, possibly sick puppy. Essex Trading Standards has handled 50 complaints this year about puppies, relating to traders all over the county – either sick puppies bought from farms or illegally imported dogs. A vet in south Essex became suspicious about a Labrador puppy taken in for routine checks. It turned out the puppy had been imported from Poland and its date of birth had been altered. The vet alerted Trading Standards as he believed the puppy was too young to have had a rabies vaccination and so should not have entered the UK. Essex Trading Standards officers did a check on the seller of the puppy and found there were a further five puppies waiting to be sold and all six dogs were taken into quarantine. Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council's Trading Standards lead, said: "A puppy is a popular Christmas gift. "Make sure it doesn't end in disappointment get a puppy that is fit, well and legal. Find out about the puppy's background and follow our advice." Trading Standards' advice is to check the puppy has been vaccinated, but be aware that vaccination cards are easy to fake. If the vet's contact details are not visible or has a non-UK address, the card may be false. Imported puppies must have a pet passport or vet's certificate confirming it is micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies, treated for worms and was over three months and 21 days when it was imported. Trading Standards say a buyer should always see a puppy with its mother and it is best to buy from a local breeder. Ideally ask to see the father too, or at least a photo of the father, and be suspicious if the breeder cannot show you the mother or father. Pedigree certificates are not a guarantee for the condition of your dog and may not even mean the puppy is pure-bred. Contact the Kennel Club for details of the Accredited Breeder Scheme. They also advise not to sign any paper work without checking it first, as it makes it legally hard to challenge if you are unhappy with the puppy you are sold. Anyone worried about a puppy they have been sold should contact a vet for advice and treatment. Anyone with information about illegally imported puppies should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service 03454 040506.

    Warning over illegal puppy breeders in the lead up to Christmas

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    Edinson Cavani has reportedly asked Paris Saint-Germain to lower his transfer value of £50 million to force through a move to Arsenal.

    Cavani is said to be frustrated by the lack of opportunities he's had to play down the middle of the PSG attack with coach Laurent Blanc favouring Zlatan Ibrahimovic in that position.

    Instead he has been played out wide and it is believed that he favours a move to Arsenal to be the focal point in attack and has previously admitted his admiration of Chilean Alexis Sanchez.

    PSG will unlikely lower the asking price dramatically and it would be a huge shock for a move to materialise in January but, with the promise of a central role, the Uruguayan could try to force through a move.

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    A violent 'weather bomb' is set to lash much of the UK, unleashing hurricane force winds of up to 80mph and icy temperatures of -1.6C. A weather bomb is a low pressure weather system that can cause extreme temperatures and freezing winds. This latest one has developed over the Atlantic Ocean over the last week and is set to hit coastal areas of the UK by Thursday. The yellow severe weather warning has been issued for north Wales, northern England and Scotland for Wednesday, with western and northern Scotland. A Met Office spokesman said: "There is the potential for gales or severe gales to develop across much of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and southern Scotland during Thursday night and into Friday, and then lasting for much of the day, before slowly easing from the west during the afternoon and into the evening." The wet and windy conditions will start tomorrow night and will last through Wednesday and Thursday, when the worst of the weather will strike. The Met Office also issued wind warnings for tomorrow until Friday, with gales of up to 80mph forecast for parts of the country.

    Atlantic 'weather bomb' to lash the UK with 80mph icy winds

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    Tottenham could receive a major boost ahead of their Europa League clash away to Besiktas this Thursday with Kyle Walker set to return to the squad.

    The right-back has been out of first team action since March after having to undergo abdominal surgery to cure a constant hip problem.

    He completed a 90 minute run-out with the under-21s on Saturday and the club now believe he is ready for a return to the first-team.

    The match on Thursday would be somewhat risky for Walker to return as they have already qualified but will need at least a draw if they have hopes of winning the group.

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