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

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    PARENTS have been disappointed by the decision of Moulsham Junior School to axe hot lunches for a year.

    The school told parents their children would be offered cold packed lunches from next month until the construction of a new kitchen in January 2016, after Moulsham Infants cancelled its contract to cook the junior school's meals.

    The new kitchen is to be constructed as part of the school's expansion, which will also see it take on additional pupils, and the school said it would provide nutritious cold food until then.

    The letter, sent out earlier this month, added that the idea of using an external provider for the meals, which would cost parents £2.50, had been deemed too expensive.

    But many parents of pupils at the Princes Road, Chelmsford, school are unhappy with the decision.

    Poppy Wright, 33, said: "One parent has already told me how much of a strain it will put on her. I don't understand how a school of that size can withdraw hot meals."

    But headteacher Marie Staley, who has been at the school for just ten weeks, said there had been no alternative.

    She added: "Only seven per cent of children here have free school meals, and the uptake of hot dinners is only 29 per cent.

    "I am a big advocate of school dinners.

    "It's certainly not a decision we came to lightly, but we explored so many other avenues and none of them worked.

    "It may be the case that it is the only hot meal some children have a day, I couldn't know, but I have had parents say they don't have time to cook a hot meal because they are taking their kids to clubs and so on, but that is a family choice."

    The large school has no kitchen, something the expansion next year will remedy, and previously relied on Moulsham Infants School to prepare its hot dinners.

    However, the infants' school was forced to cancel its contract with the juniors after the Government's mandate to provide free lunches to under-sevens saw its intake of lunches go from 70 to more than 200 pupils.

    One parent, who did not want to be named, told the Chronicle: "The school hasn't consulted with parents at all on this. We are just being told hot meals will stop next term and have to get on with it.

    "Packed lunches just aren't a suitable alternative for some children, but the school has just gone with the option that works best for it.

    "There is so much upheaval planned already to make way for the extra pupils that the school has agreed to take on and it is clear it is struggling to provide for the students it already has."

    Mrs Wright added: "There seems to be no discussion or negotiation.

    "Many of the parents I have spoken to about this would have been happy to pay the extra."

    But Mrs Staley explained the school had been left with no choice.

    She said: "Both companies that offered to provide meals for £2.50 withdrew. If they had agreed to it, we would have asked parents if they wanted to pay that much.

    "Even if they had said no, we would have looked at subsidising it, but because it wasn't viable, there was nothing to consult on."

    Extension work forces Moulsham Junior School to axe hot dinners for a year


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    Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury's stores in Essex are expected to be packed today with Christmas shoppers after yesterday's retail chaos. Angry festive shoppers complained of being stuck in Princes Road Tesco next to the Miami roundabout for up to an hour after traffic came to a standstill. Essex Police officers were also reportedly called to help guide people in, while parking marshals are being used at the Aldi car park in Springfield Road. Dozens of people took to the Essex Chronicle's Facebook page to share their horror stories "This doesn't just happen at Christmas, I get stuck in that car park throughout the year," Marie Findlay. "Tescos thought it was a good idea making the store bigger but not the car park." Helen Tween said: "Took me hour and half to get out car park. No traffic control there should be more organisation. I had to crack open the Ferraro Roche. Glad to get home." Joanne Brenchley said: "It's all good fun and part of Christmas. My god the supermarket is only closed for one day. How much food do people actually need. Feel for the less fortunate people who have to make do with a lot less food. People need to stop grumbling and get on with it." Other shops were also hit by the Christmas rush, with problems repeated across Chelmsford and cars at a standstill with long delays on Springfield Road approaching Parkway, while Waterhouse Lane was also crawling slowly. As a result supermarkets are expected to be even busier today as the last minute rush for Christmas supplies continues.

    Supermarkets braced for Christmas rush after 'police called to control queues at Tesco in Chelmsford'


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    Nabil Fekir will be moving to Arsenal as it is the only club that 'can enable him to progress, with Arsene Wenger' according to the players' father when speaking to French newspaper La Parisien.

    The 21-year-old playmaker broke into the Lyon team last season but has become a firm favourite with the clubs fans this year with his attacking flair and prowess in front of goal.

    Seven goals in 15 games this term already has attracted interest from Europe's elite but the player's father has called out Arsenal to make a bid for him.

    Arsenal already have players of the same calibre in abundance but Santi Cazorla is seemingly a bit part player whilst Mesut Ozil hasn't been able to replicate his form from country to club.

    Lyon would be reluctant to sell a player who the club president has likened to Lionel Messi but if the players' views echo his father's then the club may become surplus to requirements and accept a reasonable offer from Arsenal if they decided to do so in January.


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    ESSEX is set for a wet Christmas this year as rain and wind is predicted to hit the county over the festive period. The Met Office say Christmas Eve will remain largely cold, with rain and drizzle over much of Essex, along with a chilly northwesterly wind that will strengthen during the day. Christmas Day is likely to remain cold with sunshine and isolated showers in the north of the county and widespread frost overnight, that will extend into Friday and Saturday. The rest of the country is also expected to be hit by the frosty conditions with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day temperatures getting to no higher than 7C in most places. Helen Chivers at the Met Office said: "We will have colder and crisper weather for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well." "You might see sleety snow on higher ground in the North of England and Scotland, but it will be dry with a fair amount of sunshine." Bookmakers have increased the odds snow on Christmas Day in London to 12/1, while the Met Office says the most that can be expected is "sleety snow on higher ground", which is unlikely to settle as freezing fog could cause problems for people getting across the country on the roads or trains. High winds have also caused problems for planes at Leeds and Bradford airports.

    Essex set for wet rather than white Christmas


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    It's going to be a memorable Christmas for somebody this year, with the National Lottery giving you more chances than ever to win big.

    500 lucky winners will each bag £20,000 in this years special festive Lotto raffle.

    And Boxing Day is a EuroMillions Mega Friday, with 10 guaranteed UK millionaires, each also winning a luxury trip to see the spectacular Northern Lights.

    And the winners will also get the chance to jet off to see the stunning Northern Lights in Canada with three guests.

    You'll be able to win a seven night stay at a luxurious 5 star hotel in the heart of the Banff National Park

    From canyon ice walks, horse-drawn sleigh rides and dogsledding to a private expedition through the Banff National Park for the best once-in-a-lifetime views of the Northern Lights.

    Don't miss out. Buy tickets online for both events here

    National Lottery: When is the Lotto draw for Christmas Eve?


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    Bought your ticket while out Christmas shopping? Tonight's Euromillions draw will see one winner scoop more than £11million.

    One lucky winner will also scoop a guaranteed £1million with the draw's UK Millionaire Maker.

    Checked your tickets for Friday's draw? The numbers were 23, 29, 31, 39, 44 and the lucky stars were 05 and 08.

    Remember, the draw takes place every Tuesday and Friday

    And Boxing Day is a EuroMillions Mega Friday, with 10 guaranteed UK millionaires, each also winning a luxury trip to see the spectacular Northern Lights.

    And the winners will also get the chance to jet off to see the stunning Northern Lights in Canada with three guests.

    From canyon ice walks, horse-drawn sleigh rides and dogsledding to a private expedition through the Banff National Park for the best once-in-a-lifetime views of the Northern Lights.

    Euromillions: One UK winner guaranteed after draw on Tuesday December 23


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    Motorists in Chelmsford city centre will face disruption early next year when work finally starts on a major new retail development in Chelmsford that will include John Lewis

    The Bond Street car park will be closed from midnight on January 3.

    John Lewis, Ask Italian, burger chain Byron, American bar Coast to Coast and Goldsmiths jewellery will be part of the Aquila Holdings development.

    Councillors first granted the proposal permission two years ago, and the project was orginally scheduled to be completed by autumn this year.

    The £120 million project, estimated to bring £67 million to the local economy and create 450 jobs, will also include a brand new 275-space underground car park.

    It is due for completion in Autumn 2016.

    Alternative nearby car parks in Chelmsford

    Meadows Retail, CM2 6LU - five minutes walk to the High Street

    High Chelmer, CM1 1LU - two minutes walk to the High Street

    Waterloo Lane, CM1 1BD - eight minutes walk to the High Street

    Wharf Road, CM2 6LU - 10 minutes walk to the High Street

    Moulsham Street, CM2 0LG - five minutes walk to the High Street

    Date confirmed for start of work on John Lewis Bond St development in Chelmsford


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    VLAD CHIRICHES looks set to be on his way out of White Hart Lane with Roma the supposed destination once the January transfer window opens.

    The defender has fallen down the pecking order this season behind summer signing Federico Fazio and club stalwart Younes Kaboul and has only made the five league appearances this season.

    The Giallorossi have been linked with a loan move for the Romanian since the summer and it seems as though a deal will be confirmed within a few days of the January transfer market opening.

    Chiriches has failed to make the sort of impact that was promised after arriving for €9.5 million from Steaua Bucharest and it seems Pochettino is willing to let the defender go out on loan to discover some form.


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    It's the time of year when you'll need to know when the doors slam shut on the supermarkets, if you;re rushing to get some last minute Christmas groceries. 

    See below for all the opening times for the main supermarkets in mid-Essex during the all important festive season.

    CHELMSFORD

    Tesco, Princes Road, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - open until 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 9am - 6pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 7am to 10pm
    • New Year's Eve - open until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Springfield Road, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - open until 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • New Year's Eve - open until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Sainsbury's, White Hart Lane, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - open until 6pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 7am to 9pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 7am to 9pm
    • New Year's Eve - open until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Aldi, Springfield Road, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - 8am to 6pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • Saturday, December 27 - 8am to 10pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 8am to 10pm
    • Tuesday, December 30 - 8am to 10pm
    • New Year's Eve - 8am to 6pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - 8am to 9pm

    Lidl, Van Diemens Road, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - 7am to 6pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • Saturday, December 27 - Open as normal
    • Monday, December 29 - Open as normal
    • Tuesday, December 30 - Open as normal
    • New Year's Eve - Open until 6pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - Open as normal

    Asda, Chelmer Village Retail Park, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - closed at 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 8am to 10pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - 10am to 4pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 8am to midnight
    • New Year's Eve - 6am until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - 10am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Marks and Spencer, High Street, Chelmsford

    • Christmas Eve - 6am to 5pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • Saturday, December 27 - 8am to 8pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 8am to 7pm
    • Tuesday, December 30 - 8am to 7pm
    • New Year's Eve - 8am to 6pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - Open as normal

    BRAINTREE

    Sainsbury's, Tofts Walk, Braintree

    • Christmas Eve - 7am to 6pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 7am to 8pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 7am to 8pm
    • New Year's Eve - 7am until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Market Place, Braintree

    • Christmas Eve - 6am to 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • New Year's Eve - 6am until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Coggeshall Road, Marks Gate, Braintree

    • Christmas Eve - 6am to 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 9am to 6pm
    • New Year's Eve - 6am until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Notley Green, Braintree

    • Christmas Eve - 6am to 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • New Year's Eve - 6am until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Morrisons, Rayne Road, Braintree

    • Christmas Eve - 6am to 5pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 8am to 8pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - 10am to 4pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 8am to 8pm
    • New Year's Eve - 8am until 6pm
    • New Year's Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    SOUTH WOODHAM FERRERS

    Asda, Queen Elizabeth Square, South Woodham Ferrers

    • Christmas Eve - Closes at 7pm
    • Christmas Day - Closed
    • Boxing Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 8am to 10pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - 10am to 4pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 6am to midnight
    • New Year's Eve - 6am to 7pm
    • New Year's Day - 10am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - 8am to midnight

    MALDON

    Tesco, Fulbridge, Maldon

    • Christmas Eve - Open until 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - midnight to midnight
    • Sunday, December 28 - 10am to 4pm
    • Monday, December 29 -
    • New Year's Eve - Open until 7pm
    • New Year's Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open midnight onwards

    Morrisons, 43 - 45 High Street, Maldon

    • Christmas Eve - 7am to 9pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - 8am to 9pm
    • Saturday, December 27 -7am to 9pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - 7am to 9pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 7am to 9pm 
    • New Year's Eve - 7am to 9pm 
    • New Year's Day - 8am to 9pm 
    • Friday, January 2 - 7am to 9pm 

    Morrisons, Limebrook Way, Maldon

    • Christmas Eve - 6am to 5pm
    • Christmas Day – closed
    • Boxing Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Saturday, December 27 - 8am to 8pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - 10am to 4pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 8am to 8pm
    • New Year's Eve - 8am to 6pm
    • New Year's Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Friday, January 2 - 7am to 10pm

    Marks and Spencers, 40, 40a, 42 High Street, Maldon

    • Christmas Eve – 7am to 5pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day – closed
    • Saturday, December 27 – 8am to 6pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - 10am to 4pm
    • Monday, December 29 - 8am to 6pm
    • New Year's Eve – 8am to 5pm
    • New Year's Day – closed
    • Friday, January 2 – 8am to 6pm

    WITHAM

    Asda, 24 Highfields Road, Witham

    • Christmas Eve – 6am to 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day – 9am to 6pm
    • Saturday, December 27 – 6am to midnight
    • Sunday, December 28 - open as normal
    • Monday, December 29 - open as normal
    • New Year's Eve – 6am to 7pm
    • New Year's Day – 10am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 – open as normal

    Morrisons, Braintree Road, Witham

    • Christmas Eve – 6am to 5pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day – 10am to 5pm
    • Saturday, December 27 – 8am to 8pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - open as normal
    • Monday, December 29 - open as normal
    • New Year's Eve – 8am to 6pm
    • New Year's Day – 10am to 5pm
    • Friday, January 2 – 7am to 9pm

    Morrisons, 113 Hatfield Road, Witham

    • Christmas Eve – 6am to 10pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day – 8am to 10pm
    • Saturday, December 27 – 6am to 11pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - open as normal
    • Monday, December 29 - open as normal
    • New Year's Eve – 6am to 10pm
    • New Year's Day – 8am to 10pm
    • Friday, January 2 – 6am to 11pm

    Tesco, The Grove Centre, Witham

    • Christmas Eve – 6am to 7pm
    • Christmas Day - closed
    • Boxing Day - closed
    • Saturday, December 27 - 6am to 8pm
    • Sunday, December 28 - open as normal
    • Monday, December 29 - open as normal
    • New Year's Eve – 6am to 7pm
    • New Year's Day - closed

    Christmas and New Year Essex supermarket opening times at Tesco, Sainsbury's Asda and Morrisons


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    NEW high definition, infra-red body cameras will be worn by frontline Essex police officers. The force says the trial carried out with 70 older cameras lead to more early guilty pleas and a nine per cent increase in the number of offenders charged with offences. Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: "We have recently carried out a successful trial using older camera technology to assist with our investigations around domestic abuse. "The results of that study were very encouraging and the capabilities of the new cameras, which are lighter and more portable, mean that I expect them to have a positive impact on our success in dealing with offenders. "I am committed to using advances in technology to make the jobs of my officers easier, to improve crime detection, and relieve the pressure on victims and witnesses around giving evidence." A total of 385 of the cutting edge devices have been distributed to uniform officers responding to emergencies in the Tendring, Colchester, Southend, Thurrock and Basildon districts. All of the officers were trained by Friday, December 19, and have already started using the cameras to record what happens when they respond to domestic abuse calls and deal with anti-social behaviour and disorder. The state-of-the-art cameras will be used to help officers capture evidence from the scene of an incident and can record high-definition footage, including in infra-red, giving clear footage in reduced light and darkness, take still pictures, and record sound. Superintendent Trevor Roe, who is in charge of the roll-out, said: "With this new kit I am very hopeful that we will see a reduction in offending behaviour and better all-round safety for members of the public and officers with offences and officers involved in the trial also felt that the cameras made them more accountable. "We owe it to the victims of crime to use all lawful investigative techniques available to us and I'm sure these cameras will become an invaluable asset for officers as they deliver a first class service to the people of Essex. "Systems have now been put in place to allow for the easy download and storage of the footage from the cameras and to simplify the process of passing video which will be used as evidence in court cases to the Crown Prosecution Service." The money for the cameras, which cost £500 each, has come from a successful joint bid with Kent Police for funding from the Home Office. The cameras will be issued to officers in frontline Local Policing Teams for their individual use only. They will make the decision when to start and stop recording an incident but if they decide not to use the camera they may have to justify that decision in court. Officers will let people know they are being filmed and the footage from incidents could also be used for internal enquiries should someone make a complaint about the handling of an incident.

    Essex police officers to wear new infra-red body cameras


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    An investigation is under way in Colchester after a teenage girl was sexually assaulted behind a pub in Colchester in the early hours.

    The attack is said to have taken place just before 1am today (December 23), when the victim, a girl from the area, was approached by a white man in his 30s in Lexden Road and attacked.

    The man was around 5ft 6 ins tall with a local accent and was seen wearing dark clothing and a hat. He ran off in the direction of Stanway. 

    The victim is being cared for by specially trained police officers,while enquiries are continuing to trace the suspect.

    .Anybody with any information about the incident is asked to contact Essex Police on 101.

    Investigation into sex attack on teenage girl in Colchester


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    For many children, Christmas Eve is even more exciting than the main event the following day.

    They can place their stockings, add some finishing touches to the tree and leave mince pies, carrots and a glass of sherry for Santa and his reindeer.

    That's not all.

    Parents can also point out a bright light in the skies tomorrow evening and tell their little ones they can see Father Christmas beginning his travels.

    NASA says the International Space Station will be visible for four minutes from 5.23pm and again for one minute at 6.59pm.

    If standing in Chelmsford it can be seen facing south west.

    The light is apparently visible again for four minutes from 4.32pm on Christmas Day and for two minutes from 6.08pm later the same day.

    Cloud is forecasted for Christmas Eve but this is expected to clear by the following day.

    International Space Station sighting: What time will Santa be flying over Chelmsford on Christmas Eve?


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    LEADERS Chelmsford secured a narrow win at South Woodham Ferrers in a hard-fought derby.

    Having suffered a narrow defeat on the road the previous weekend, Woodham were fully focused and motivated for the game and this was evident from the kick-off when they forced a lineout.

    A catch and drive saw second-row James Wilson cross the line for the first score of the match and, with the try converted by Jack Reeve, Woodham went into an early 7-0 lead.

    Conditions were very muddy underfoot but both teams were trying to play flowing rugby. Woodham were penalised, just inside their own half, for not releasing in the tackle and Simon Hoult successfully kicked from 45 metres to take the score to 7-3.

    A period of good open play followed with Woodham pressuring the Chelmsford defence, which held out against strong scrumaging and rolling mauls.

    The pressure finally told when prop David Langley took a ball from a long lineout throw and then, after a couple of phases of play, picked it up from the bottom of a ruck to crash over for the second try. The conversion missed, the score moved on to 12-3.

    Chelmsford were competing hard in the middle of the park in an attempt to get back into the game and they were soon awarded a penalty, on the ten-metre line in front of the posts. But, to the surprise of both sets of supporters, it was missed.

    Both sides were evenly matched in the scrum and with high levels of intensity being shown all around the park it was an evenly matched and hard-fought game when Michael Guest was sin-binned.

    The second half started with the same intensity as the first had finished.

    A penalty, just inside the Woodham half, awarded to Chelmsford for turning the scrum, was converted by Hoult to make the score 12-6.

    With both sides putting everything into their play, Woodham were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts, which Reeve missed.

    The heavy, sticky, strength-sapping conditions were beginning to take their toll on both sides, with play mainly confined to the middle of the pitch.

    Then, after a passage of Chelmsford pressure, a solo run from full-back Jamie Ash through a mêlée of players saw Chelmsford score under the posts.

    With the try converted by Hoult, Chelmsford went ahead 13-12 ahead for the first time in the match.

    Strong Chelmsford pressure resulted in another penalty, which Hoult struck against the crossbar, quickly followed by another, which he then scored to take it to 16-12.

    With only a few minutes left on the clock, Woodham went all-out to try to win the match and their pressure was rewarded with a penalty, which was missed.

    Both teams have a winter break, and return to action on Saturday, January 10.

    Chelmsford play host to Braintree, while Woodham travel to Basildon.

    Chelmsford RFC stay top of the table after derby win over South Woodham Ferrers


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    HEYBRIDGE Swifts manager Cliff Akurang continued his 'dream start' as manager after over-seeing a 1-0 victory over Thurrock.

    Back-to-back wins have lifted them ten points clear of the relegation places in Ryman North and fighting for mid-table over the winter period.

    The newly instated manager has turned fortunes round for Heybridge since coming in but he says it's all down to the players.

    "It's a dream start for me and I can't ask for more from the boys. They've applied themselves in training, listened to exactly what I've asked them to do and gone out there and done the job," said Akurang.

    "From the minute I walked in it's been quite positive they've always believed they were good enough they just felt that they needed a bit of guidance and direction which hopefully I'm able to give them and we're starting to see the best out of them.

    "I would have taken that before the game but as the game panned out, again like last week, I thought it was what we deserved on account of the performance.

    "It's really down to them and how well they keep performing over the course of the season and the way they've started has been fantastic.

    "Just the mood in the dressing room and the change of atmosphere, they're really committed every single one of them."

    Akurang brought in a number of new players for the game including former QPR Academy starlet Emmanuel Monthe and Marcel Henry-Francis.

    It was the latter who scored the winning goal but, as happy as Akurang was for the striker to get off the mark, it was a club stalwart who Akurang singled out for commendation.

    "As a striker it's always nice to get off the mark straight away and you just need that first one to go in off your shin and then after that you'll breathe confidence," said Akurang.

    "Individually I thought [Michael] Fitzgibbon was fantastic in that game, he's someone that works hard for the team and doesn't always get the praise that he deserves because he's a bit of an unsung hero.

    "I thought he was immense in that game, and also my first game in charge."

    Akurang heralds 'dream start' as Heybridge Swifts boss


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    THE family of Ashley Woolley has been granted special permission by Chelmsford City Council to plant a commemorative tree in Oaklands Park honouring their late son's life.

    Their wish to remember him with a lasting tribute at the site of the fatal stabbing last week has been given the blessing of council leader, Councillor Roy Whitehead, his deputy, Cllr John Galley, as well as the councillor for parks and leisure, Cllr Ray Ride.

    Cllr Whitehead, was unequivocal in his support for the tribute. He said: "I am of course aware of the situation as I have been following the news on the Essex Chronicle website.

    "My initial reaction would obviously be a yes; I think it would be a jolly good idea. We plant the mayor's tree every year so we are involved with a lot of commemorative trees."

    Such are the unique circumstances surrounding the request by Ashley's family that emergency powers can be granted by the council to speed up the process, and the tree could be planted as soon as mid-January.

    Council members of the Parks and Leisure department would usually consider such a request, but Cllr Ride emphasised there will be no hesitation in responding to the family's wish. He said: "A meeting has been arranged for early in the new year to discuss and explore all options."

    The council also expressed its desire to help pay for the commemorative tree, although it would need to consult with Ashley's family first about what tree they would like.


    We have lost a part of our lives that we will never get back His heartbroken family also paid tribute to a loveable, energetic boy "who could light up a room with his smile".

    Ashley Woolley was attacked in Oaklands Park in Chelmsford on his way to college at 3.15pm on Thursday last week.

    He was rushed to Broomfield Hospital, but died several hours later from his injuries.

    Ashley's devastated dad, Trevor Woolley, 45, said he had been wrapping the 18-year-old's Christmas presents before hearing about the attack.

    "We have lost a part of our lives that we'll never get back," Trevor said. "I was wrapping his presents not knowing what was going on and I wrote a cheque out for his driving licence because I wanted to have Ashley driving by the time he was 20, when I passed my test.

    "I'd written out the cheque ready to get him driving on December 30, his 19th birthday.

    "When I went in to see him at the hospital, I was looking, but I couldn't believe it was him. I was thinking 'no, that's not him'. My eyes were saying to me 'that's him', but my head was saying 'that's not him, no, no that's not him'. "I still can't believe it now, one minute I'll be driving down the road, then I have to stop because I'm blubbing my eyes out, then I'll carry on again, then I'm blubbing my eyes out.

    "I've been so busy since, it's only when I sit there quietly that it sinks in. Then when you see all the messages from everybody that you get it, my God, he did touch everybody."

    Ashley's brother Paul, 25, described the 18-year-old as always happy, cheerful, and full of life. "His friends all said the same stuff; that he was so happy and smiley, always having a laugh, even if they only saw him for a few seconds he was always so happy. He touched many hearts, I couldn't have been more proud of him. He loved free running and doing backflips.

    "One summer he went to a beach, put a box on the floor and started doing backflips off a rock and people were so amazed they started throwing money in the box. He said 'Paul, Paul I made loads of money yesterday'. He was definitely full of energy."

    Ashley's family have received hundreds of messages of support since his death, with a Facebook page set up by his best friend Ian Day attracting more than 4,000 likes. A sea of flowers, cars and energy drink cans are laid outside Oaklands Park.

    "He loved his energy drinks, the 35p ones," Trevor smiled. "Ashley smoked, and you always saw him walking along with what I called his man bag, he hated me calling it that, on his arm and his energy drink in his hand.

    "So when you see everyone standing outside Oaklands Park, all cracking open their energy drinks, lighting up a fag and putting it down saying 'here you are mate, have that', it's so touching to see them doing that and thinking they did know him, they knew what he was like."

    His girlfriend

    Ashley's family also spoke of his devotion to his girlfriend, Charlotte Jones, 17, adding that the pair had been inseparable.

    Charlotte, who also visited the tribute, told ITV: "He was just the most kind boy ever and he always had a lovely smile on his face, and he was just so considerate of other people and wanted to make other people happy.

    "Ash, I love you and I'll never stop loving you because you were my best friend as well."

    As well as leaving heartfelt tributes on Facebook and at Oaklands Park, Ashley's best friend Ian Day, 19, has started a Fundrazr page to raise money towards Ashley's funeral. He posted: "On the 18th December 2014 my best friend Ashley Woolley was tragically killed in Oaklands Park, Chelmsford.

    "I have set up this fundraiser to help with funeral costs and anything that can be done to support his family, please feel free to donate as little or as much as you're willing to give, I along with everyone who cared for Ash want to give him the send-off he deserves. Thank you again to everyone for all of the kind words and may Ash rest in peace."

    When the Chronicle went to press, more than £1,900 had been donated by friends and well-wishers. Fundraising had to temporarily stop on Tuesday because the huge amount donated in such a short time prompted an investigation.His schools Trevor, of Bramble Road, Witham, said he had received messages of condolence from as far away as Australia and America, as well as from teachers from The Boswells School, which he attended until after his GCSEs, and from Chelmsford College, where he was studying at the time of the attack.

    The Boswells School head teacher Paul Banks said: "We were devastated to learn of the tragic death of Ashley. Ashley was a very popular member of The Boswells School community and was well liked by peers and staff alike. We are all totally shocked at this news and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time."

    Principal Andy Sparks, from Chelmsford College, added: "Ashley was well liked by both students and teaching staff – the college community is shocked and upset by this tragic loss.

    "Since the news of the tragedy broke tributes to Ashley have been flooding in, which is testament to his popularity."


    'He would be loving all this attention'

    Other members of Ashley's family, including his nan, and aunts Emma and Sharon, said they had been blessed to have the teenager in their lives. They added: "Words cannot express the pain we feel in our hearts at the tragic loss of our beloved Ashley. We were privileged and blessed to have Ashley in our family.

    "To have watched all of the different ages and stages of him growing up into the charming, popular, handsome young man that he had become. We are totally devastated and we are finding it extremely hard to accept that we will never see Ashley again. We'll always love him and miss him."

    The 18-year-old lived in Rutland Road, Chelmsford with his mum Maria – who is too distraught to talk – and died just weeks shy of his 19th birthday. He was studying business and his family said he dreamed of getting into university.

    "He wanted to go to university, that's what his ultimate goal was," Trevor explained. "He was at college and this was the first year he was actually knuckling under. I believe next year he would have gone to university – he was trying to do well. And he got himself back into this college, he did it all off his own back."

    Ashley's brother Paul said: "I'd like to think I showed him right from wrong and taught him the way to be, but the truth is he taught me more than I could ever teach him. He touched so many people in so many different ways, and to see them all there outside Oaklands Park, girls and boys."

    Trevor added: "He would be loving it, he would be loving the attention. We have lost a part of our lives that we'll never get back but, up until this happened, we had a good time. There's no thinking 'I wish we could have done this, I wish we could have done that', and things we would have done eventually. That's why we want a good send-off."

    Oaklands Park memorial tree to provide lasting tribute to Ashley Woolley


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    A HOMELESS man raped a disabled woman at knifepoint and dragged her around the floor by her hair, then imprisoned her in her own home.

    Jyde Hammond, 41, of no fixed address, attacked the woman when she returned home from a night out in Maldon with another man.

    Hammond accused the victim of kissing the man and when she returned to her bungalow in the town, he "flipped out" in a jealous rage, attacking her in the lounge of her home, kicking her and pulling her around the room by her hair.

    He then threatened her with a knife and raped her.

    In the days after the rape on July 3, Hammond locked all the doors and windows and took her mobile phone from the woman, only letting her leave when she went to work the following Monday afternoon, July 7.

    She waited until the following Saturday to report the crime to the police after she had another argument with Hammond and he "raised his fist" at her and made further threats.

    Hammond testified at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday that the rapes did not take place and stated that the woman was free to go at any time.

    He said that he spotted the woman kissing and engaging in "sexual activity" in a pub before he left. "I was upset. I lost my cool. I asked her why? She completely denied it," Hammond told the court.

    But speaking of the assault, which he admitted, he said: "I'm ashamed at what I had done. I'm disgraced at that. I called her names but there was no knife in the front room."

    The victim gave evidence during the three-day trial that began on Thursday last week.

    "He had the knife in his hands and held it to the side of my throat, I said, 'what are you doing?' It happened so fast," she said.

    "He pulled my jeans down against my will. My head was seriously painful and the lower left side of my back was bruised.

    "He was begging me not to call the police. He then started crying, saying that he was sorry he was also threatening me.

    "He didn't let me out until Monday afternoon. I was on lockdown. I told him that people will be worried if I didn't show up."

    Chris Paxton, prosecuting, said: "The victim was particularly vulnerable due to her personal circumstances and her physical disability.

    "Mr Hammond just flipped out and attacked her, grabbing her, throwing her to the floor and calling her names including 'a whore', leaving her frightened and concerned.

    "And at one point he placed a knife up to her throat and told her that he hated her.

    "He then put the knife to his own chest saying that she should kill him. He then put the knife down and began dragging her around the room like a rag doll by her hair.

    "She was kicked several times to her body and to her legs.

    "But that was not the end of the physical violence – she was then subjected to a sexual assault.

    "He pulled her jeans down, knickers down and underwear. She didn't want any of it but he wasn't interested in what she wanted, he was only interested in what he wanted, and his own sexual gratification.

    "She didn't want to have sex but he wasn't interested and after a period of time she gave up.

    "Mr Hammond had told her that she shouldn't go to the police and he threatened to burn her house down, bricks and mortar."

    On Monday the jury returned a majority verdict of 10 to two on one count of oral rape, one count of rape and one count of false imprisonment between July 3 and 7.

    Sasha Bailey, defending Hammond, said: "He has from a young age suffered abuse from his stepfather and spent the majority of his childhood in care homes and has been prescribed medication for depression."

    Hammond had already admitted one count of actual bodily harm and the court heard he had 41 previous convictions.

    Judge Christopher Ball sentenced him to two years in prison for ABH, 11 years for the two rapes and two years for false imprisonment, to be served concurrently.

    Homeless rapist Jyde Hammond attacked disabled woman 'in fit of rage'


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    THIS Christmas, most of us will sit down to a family meal with all the trimmings.

    But for those without friends or family to share it with, Christmas can be a lonely time.

    Many older people will be spending tomorrow (December 25) alone, and without festive meals like the Age Concern Christmas dinner on Friday, would miss out on the chance to have a real celebration with other people at this time of year.

    The charity has been running its festive meal for years, and some of the guests have been coming together to enjoy the Christmas dinner together for more than a decade.

    "Some people don't have family to be with at Christmas, but they can come here and meet people, have a hot meal and be in a warm, friendly place," said Freda Mountain, 74, who runs Age Concern in Chelmsford and has also been a Liberal Democrat councillor for Goat Hall for more than 20 years.

    "If some of the guests here don't have family, they are by themselves, and that can get so lonely.

    "One of the main things people get from coming here is companionship and friendship."

    Age Concern is just one of the many charities that benefits from the Essex Community Foundation's Surviving Winter Appeal, run in conjunction with the Chronicle.

    "Surviving Winter is an absolute godsend," the grandmother-of-three explained.

    "Without the money from the Surviving Winter fund, I don't know what we would do.

    "I couldn't be without it, it gives us the money to heat this place, so that people know that they have somewhere warm to come and get a good healthy lunch."

    The Day Centre in Cottage Place serves meals to elderly weekdays.

    And the total raised for the appeal so far this year stands at £6,000, thanks to Chronicle readers who have once again pledged their support, meaning people like Linda Carter, 62, and Ivy Treuman, 92, are able to enjoy a Christmas meal together

    "You get a good meal, it's a good Christmas dinner, there's entertainment sometimes and you get company and make friends, especially for people on their own. I'm a regular, I enjoy it," said Linda.

    "It's very friendly, and you have someone to talk to. I come on a Friday and it's nice, I sit on the same table with Linda, it's a good place to talk to other people, especially at Christmas," added Ivy.

    At least 60 people attend the Christmas dinner each year, while on other days the centre may see anywhere between 20 and 40 people coming there for a decent meal, good company, and all-important advice, Freda explained.

    "Sometimes people come to me to talk about problems with their gas bill, or will tell me that a bus driver never waited for them," she said.

    "They know they can come here and there is someone who will sort things out for them and try to help. There is such a good atmosphere here, people can save some money and come for a good healthy meal.

    "They get to eat lunch in a warm place and make new friends."

    One table of men at the meal said they had become friends after meeting at Age Concern. "We all met here," said Jim Dines, 92. "Some people at the table have been coming for more than ten years. The meals are tasty, and the company is very nice."

    As well as regulars from Age Concern, Friday's meal was also attended by Chelmsford's mayor and mayoress Cllr Bob Villa and his wife Valerie.

    They have been coming to the dinner for the past six years, showing their support for the charity, which is no doubt appreciated by the other guests.

    "I come once a week, although this is the first time I've been here for the Christmas dinner," said Joyce Hallet.

    "A lot of us are by ourselves, and it's nice to get some company and have a Christmas meal. Strangers become friends."

    Chelmsford's elderly enjoy Age Concern Christmas lunch to remember


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    Black Friday was big enough but wait until Boxing Day, where thousands of shoppers are expected to descend on the city centre

    Stores in the city centre will slash prices in readiness for the expected rush of shoppers on the town.

    However, most of the big names will get in there early to offer Christmas discounts, with online retailer Amazon heading up the queue of retailers.

    More cyber-shoppers than ever will log on today and tomorrow, with an increase of 25 per cent on last year.

    Next - will open at 6am - the store is cutting at least 50 per cent of prices but have not revealed the full list of items to be discounted.

    Argos - is expected to open its Springfield Road store at 9am, with prices set to follow last year's 60 per cent

    Asda - will reduce some household items to as little as 50p, and cut the prices on a range of electrical goods, including tablets and laptops.

    Marks and Spencer - The store's Boxing Day sales actually start from midday on Christmas Eve, across its clothing products

    Tesco - The sale at Tesco is expected to cover all of its non food items, including its kitchenwear 

    Chelmsford Boxing Day sales 2014: Next, Argos, Debenhams, Tesco and Asda to slash prices


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    MYSTERY surrounds how the door of a taxi was damaged in the car park of Asda in South Woodham Ferrers. Essex Police were called to in the car park in Queen Elizabeth Square at 1.30am on Sunday December 14 to find that the sliding side door of the white Ford Transit taxi had come off its runners and was lying on the floor with the glass smashed. The door fell of its runners and landed in the road. It is alleged that the sliding door of the vehicle was damaged by a passenger. But officers received conflicting reports as to how the damage was caused and would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed what happened. Anyone with information can call PC Daniel Littlefield at Chelmsford Police Station on 101.

    Mystery surrounds smashed taxi door in South Woodham Ferrers Asda carpark


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    ARSENAL are reportedly tracking defensive midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak with an eye to move for him in the January transfer window.

    He only joined Sevilla in the summer for €4.5 million but has spoke of his desire to play Champions League football and Arsenal have a good record of offering that.

    The player could fit straight into the starting line-up for Arsenal if Arsene Wenger opted to move for him in January but it would take a hefty sum to bring in a player the Spanish club have only just signed.

    Against Liverpool the North London club only had one recognised central midfielder whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in a position he's still get used to so Wenger may be tempted to move quickly for the 24-year-old.


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