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

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    Not going out? Well you can bring in the New Year in the comfort of your own home as usual on BBC1!

    This year the build-up to the spectacular firework display at the London Eye starts at the Central Hall in Westminster with a televised concert hosted by Radio 1 DJs Greg James and Gemma Cairney

    Veteran rockers Brian May and Roger Taylor join forces with flamboyant US singer and former American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert.

    They will belt out a number of Queen classics to a 2,000-capacity crowd, only pausing to take a break for the chimes of Big Ben and the traditional fireworks display over the Thames. 

    Queen and Adam Lambert rock Big Ben Live starts at 11.15pm on BBC1 and continues at 12.10am after the firework display

    What time are the New Year's Eve fireworks on BBC 1? Queen and Adam Lambert rock Big Ben Live

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    It's New Year's Eve and the last draw of 2014 for the National Lottery, so you may have an extra reason to crack open the Champagne!

    The jackpot for tonight's rollover Lotto draw is a cool £5.4million - but you needed to buy a ticket to be in with a chance of winning the bumper payout.

    50 raffle winners will also be in with a chance of winning £20,000.

    The numbers are:, 12, 18, 22, 37, 38, 49, and the bonus ball 35

    So will 2015 be the year when you finally buy that house you always wanted, or splash out on that luxury motor you've been eyeing up all this time? Get your ticket ready!

    The numbers for last Saturday, if you needed reminding, were 11, 23, 28, 30, 32, 46 and the bonus ball 49

    The next draw for the Lotto and Thunderball is Saturday, January 3. Lotto tickets can be bought daily until 11pm, or 7.30pm on draw days. Lotto, EuroMillions, and Lotto HotPicks sales then reopen at 9pm

    National Lottery results: New Year's Eve Lotto draw numbers on December 31, 2014

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    A BARMAID is preparing to exchange pulling pints for dismantling language barriers when she flies to Nepal soon.

    Olivia Power, 22, who works at the Wheatsheaf pub in Writtle, is jetting off to South Asia in February as part of a six-week volunteer programme designed to help educate local children, as well as giving the former Hylands School pupil teaching experience.

    Olivia, who lives in Little Meadow in the village, will be staying with a local family and has been advised to drink only bottled water.

    She said: "I'm counting down the days but I'm also terrified. My boyfriend isn't too happy, but the rest of my family is excited.

    "I paid £600 to the Gorkha Development Scheme for my trip. However, I have also raised over £800 from donations at the pub. I've been astounded by people's generosity."

    Wheatsheaf barmaid heading for Nepal teaching adventure

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    A "MANIPULATIVE and controlling" sex predator, caged for grooming and abusing a vulnerable schoolgirl, had his sentence upheld by top judges.

    Joshua Bryan Harris, 20, of Church Avenue, Broomfield, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court in June to be locked up for 40 months.

    He admitted three counts of sexual activity with the 14-year-old, who was left psychologically scarred by her ordeal.

    Mrs Justice Cox said Harris "groomed" his victim via social networking sites and BlackBerry messaging, before they had "consensual sex".

    On May 7 last year, the girl agreed to take Harris, then just shy of his 19th birthday, to her home for "consensual sex" in her living room while her parents were away.

    She told friends after the meeting, and her parents advised her that she should stop seeing Harris.

    Nonetheless when Harris sent a text message to the girl on August 26, saying he was in Heybridge, she agreed to meet him again on the condition there was no sex.

    The two met in an alleyway off Limebrook Way, but when Harris offered her a cigarette only then to advise she should not be seen smoking, the two wandered to the woods beside West Maldon Community Centre in Sunbury Way.

    There at a secluded bench, Harris pulled down his grey jogging bottoms and "forced" her into sexual acts. Minutes later, he persuaded her to have unprotected sex, London's Appeal Court heard.

    The girl was left distraught, said the judge, and became terrified that she would fall pregnant. She had also started to self-harm, the court heard.

    Mrs Justice Cox, sitting with Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Simon, said Harris persisted in pressuring his victim for sex despite her making it clear she was not interested.

    Harris, a former Chelmer Valley High School pupil, was normally a "decent and hardworking young man," the court heard, but had "let himself down badly".

    "This was manipulative and controlling behaviour by a young man who took advantage of her immaturity," said Mrs Justice Cox.

    "His conduct reveals a high degree of culpability.

    "The victim's personal statement reveals the serious effects of his actions on her.

    "She felt ashamed and confused and there were incidents of self-harm.

    "The law is there to protect young girls from themselves and from being used and exploited for sex in this way, " the judge said.

    At the hearing on December 17, she concluded: "The judge was entirely right to sentence as he did. Forty months cannot be said to be manifestly excessive or wrong in principle."

    'Manipulative and controlling' Josh Harris fails in jail term cut bid after sex with girl, 14

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    Need some shopping after last night cleaned you out? Not all supermarkets in Essex will be open today (New Year's Day), with some operating restricted hours.

    See below for all the opening times if you're doing anything on the first day of the new year.


    Tesco, Princes Road, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Springfield Road, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Sainsbury's, White Hart Lane, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - 10am to 7pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Aldi, Springfield Road, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - 8am to 9pm

    Lidl, Van Diemens Road, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - Open as normal

    Asda, Chelmer Village Retail Park, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - 10am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Marks and Spencer, High Street, Chelmsford

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - Open as normal


    Sainsbury's, Tofts Walk, Braintree

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Market Place, Braintree

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Coggeshall Road, Marks Gate, Braintree

    • New Year's Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Tesco, Notley Green, Braintree

    • New Year's Day - closed
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal

    Morrisons, Rayne Road, Braintree

    • New Year's Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open as normal


    Asda, Queen Elizabeth Square, South Woodham Ferrers

    • New Year's Day - 10am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - 8am to midnight


    Tesco, Fulbridge, Maldon

    • New Year's Day - 9am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 - open midnight onwards

    Morrisons, 43 - 45 High Street, Maldon

    • New Year's Day - 8am to 9pm
    • Friday, January 2 - 7am to 9pm

    Morrisons, Limebrook Way, Maldon

    • New Year's Day - 10am to 5pm
    • Friday, January 2 - 7am to 10pm

    Marks and Spencers, 40, 40a, 42 High St

    • New Year's Day – closed
    • Friday, January 2 – 8am to 6pm


    Asda, 24 Highfields Road, Witham

    • New Year's Day – 10am to 6pm
    • Friday, January 2 – open as normal

    Morrisons, Braintree Road, Witham

    • New Year's Day – 10am to 5pm
    • Friday, January 2 – 7am to 9pm

    Morrisons, 113 Hatfield Road, Witham

    • New Year's Day – 8am to 10pm
    • Friday, January 2 – 6am to 11pm

    Tesco, The Grove Centre, Witham

    • New Year's Day - closed

    New Years Day opening times at Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl

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    Hundreds turned out for the annual New Year's Day hunt in Maldon this morning.

    See pictures from the event below

    Members of the Essex Farmers Hunt paraded in the High Street in front of hundreds of passers-by, on what was a mild start to the year.

    They were joined at the scene by animal rights protestors and Essex Police officers.

    Members of the  Essex Animal Defenders and the Hunt Saboteurs threatened to cause a scuffle, but no arrests were made.

    In pictures: Maldon New Year's Day Hunt parade 2015

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    Braintree Town 3, Dartford 0

    (Vanarama Conference Premier)

    BRAINTREE began the year with a bang as they exploded to life late on to see off Dartford on New Year's Day.

    Braintree were looking to make it two victories over Dartford over the festive period, after they won 2-0 away in the two club's previous meeting on Boxing Day.

    Simeon Akinola just need a bit more of a connection to open the scoring from James Mulley's third minute cross.

    After a 20 minute period, Matt Paine tried his luck from 30 yards, but fired just wide with his rasping drive.

    For the visitors, Harry Crawford saw an effort deflected wide of the Iron goal. At the other end, Chez Isaac could not get enough on his strike from inside the break just before the break and saw it collected comfortably by Dartford goalkeeper Daren Ibrahim.

    The visiting custodian denied Charlie Strutton three minute into the second half before Isaac sent the rebound wide.

    Iron boss Alan Devonshire was forced into a change on 58 minutes when injured striker Sean Marks had to be replaced by Jordan Cox.

    With chances at a premium, Braintree substitute Kenny Davis saw his shot from the right saved by the goalkeeper.

    The game suddenly exploded to life on 78 minutes when Isaac shot home from the right of the box to open the scoring.

    Akinola saw an effort blocked in front of goal less than a minute later, but from the ensuing corner he struck home to double the Iron's lead.

    Substitute Dan Sparkes came off the bench for Akinola and he hit the third goal five minutes into added time at the end of the match, side-footing a shot past the keeper.

    Late show for Braintree delivers Dartford delight

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    Ebbsfleet United 0, Chelmsford City 2

    (Vanarama Conference South)

    CHELMSFORD City began 2015 in style by coming home with a superb 2-0 victory from Ebbsfleet United.

    The Clarets were looking to grab revenge for their 5-1 home defeat to United on Boxing Day and they did so with a battling performance.

    The first chance of the game fell to Ebbsfleet midfielder Anthony Cook on 10 minutes, but he could only poke a shot wide after a mix-up in the Chelmsford defence.

    City goalkeeper Bradley Watkins was then called upon to make a flying save from Anthony Acheampong, after Daryl McMahon's inswinging free-kick into the box. The Clarets custodian then made another good tip away from a Cook corner.

    He added further saves from McMahon's shot from distance and a stinging effort from former Bishop's Stortford midfielder Matt Johnson. The same player drilled a shot wide of an upright on 31 minutes.

    The hosts kept up the pressure as Acheampong headed wide from another McMahon set piece.

    Chelmsford took the lead three minute into added time at the end of the first half. A Leon Redwood free-kick from the right was touched home by Michael Cheek, making it 18 goals for the season after his four-goal haul at Staines Town on Sunday.

    On 53 minutes, West Ham loanee Jaanai Gordon forced a save from the keeper with a strike from the edge of the six-yard box.

    The Clarets almost received a gift from their hosts on 69 minutes when Lee Sawyer's free-kick was headed towards his own goal by Ebbsfleet defender Kenny Clark, but his keeper tipped the ball behind.

    Johnson fired a shot wide for the hosts before Chelmsford doubled their lead on 78 minutes. Rohdell Gordon's deep free-kick was headed home at the back post by Jaanai Gordon, his third goal in three games since joining City.

    Chelmsford City grab Ebbsfleet United revenge

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    A TALENTED figure skater with her sights set on Olympic stardom has got a huge funding boost thanks to an Essex Chronicle appeal.

    The independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF) gave 10-year-old Jasmine Cressey a £2,380 grant, just in time for Christmas, after reading about the rising star's struggle to find the funds to pursue her dream.

    Jasmine's mum Michaella, of Felsted, said: "When I had the call from ECF to tell me how much the grant would be, I was speechless and stammered.

    "I had to ask for it to be repeated, just in case I had heard wrong. Then I had to sit down promptly, as the amount is way more than I ever expected Jaz would receive.

    "I didn't have a particular amount in mind, but to be told that figure was incredible and surpassed any expectations I may have had.

    "It is a huge contribution to her training and ancillary fees for the year and thank you just seems such a small gesture in comparison to the benefit she will gain from the funding. I am so grateful for this extraordinary support."

    Team GB skater Jasmine, who trains at the Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre in Chelmsford, has her sights set on skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics and the money will help her work towards achieving her dream.

    ECF was able to respond by making allocations from three of the funds it manages – The Annabel and Gerald Malton Charitable Fund, the Young Sport Fund and matched funding from the Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund.

    Jasmine, who took up skating four years ago said: "Ice skating is the thing I love to do most in the world, it is my life and I can't live without it.

    "I am so happy about the grant from ECF which I needed to help pay for my skating so that I can reach my goal of being in the Olympics.

    "I am very dedicated to my sport and I train at Riverside, Chelmsford, at least eight times a week and sometimes I am on the ice at 6am. I am the youngest person ever to become a member of the GB training squad for ice-skating and I hope I will be British champion in a few years. Also, I am tipped for the Olympics in 2022 and I am excited about this"

    Jasmine's coach John Wicker added: "Jasmine has extraordinary focus for such a young age and is very passionate in every aspect of her skating, dedicating many hours of time to her training.

    "Looking to the future, I am confident that she will obtain the title of British Champion and will progress further to international competition and eventually the Olympics."

    Jasmine takes part in the Riverside Christmas ice show each year and took the part of one of the dwarves in Snow White, which ran until December 22.

    Caroline Taylor, deputy chief executive of Essex Community Foundation, said: "At ECF we manage more than 100 funds and distribute grants to a wide range of voluntary organisations and community groups.

    "Through a few of our funds we are able to make allocations to individuals and we are delighted that we have been able to give this support to Jasmine.

    "Anyone who is interested in supporting aspiring young people to help achieve their sporting ambitions can contribute through ECF and we can match their contribution £1 for £1 from the Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund."

    Olympic dream burns bright for talented young Felsted skater Jasmine Cressey

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    A RETIRED GP has mobilised 150 local people to join a national campaign urging the Government not to sell off the NHS as part of a US trade agreement.

    The People's NHS has been lobbying people up and down the country to join its movement to convince the Government to veto the NHS from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade agreement.

    People from Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Chelmsford have joined the group, displaying 150 signs between them in their gardens and asking local MP Simon Burns to lobby the Prime Minister on their behalf.

    The pleas come as NHS services in Essex have been buckling under the strain of increased patient numbers and staff shortages, with Broomfield Hospital begging patients to seek alternatives to A&E recently, Colchester A&E last month declaring a major incident, and news that Springfield walk-in centre will close next year.

    "The campaign's success in Chelmsford is demonstrated by people's willingness to display the boards in their gardens", explained Ron Singer, 66, a retired GP, who is part of The People's NHS and was asked to support the Chelmsford campaign.

    "Local and national campaigns are both important and we support each other where we can. There is a network right across the country. The boards have been in hundreds of places in the UK."

    TTIP is being negotiated between the EU and the United States. It is the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and could open up the NHS, as well as other public services, to companies from the United States.

    This could mean the privatisation of the NHS, and could give US multinationals, or any firm with American investors, new rights to sue the UK Government if it ever tried to take privatised health services back into public hands.

    "There is a real resonance on the doorstep, for people to have these boards on their property is amazing, with just two or three weeks of door-knocking," Mr Singer continued.

    "When I was in Chelmsford, people thanked us for taking an interest. When you explain that the NHS is essentially being put up for sale, people are shocked and the preparedness to advertise our banners is that they had not been informed of any of this."

    'No to NHS sell-off' say protestors as pressure grows on Essex health services

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    A SLIMMING World team have walked away from a national award ceremony with fresh motivation after meeting TV presenter and singer Peter Andre.

    The Chelmsford staff members huddled up with the 41-year-old Australian at the Slimming World Awards bash at Birmingham's International Convention Centre last month.

    "Meeting Peter was a real treat – he was such a nice guy," said Chelmsford consultant Angie Lynch, who said the celebrity encounter rounded off a great year for her team.

    "Now we feel powered up and can't wait to help our members hold on to all of the fabulous changes they've made and to support even more people to become happier and healthier in 2015."

    The ceremony celebrated the weight-losing feats of individuals and staff from across the country.

    Nineties pop-star Peter, who returned to fame after ITV show I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2004, added: "At the awards I met lots of people who've lost incredible amounts of weight and it has completely transformed their lives – and their families' lives too."

    Chelmsford's Slimming World meets at locations across the city, including at Springfield Park Baptist Church, the Church of Ascension in Maltese Road and Life Church in Hall Street.

    To join, visit or call 0844 897 8000.

    Peter Andre inspires Chelmsford super slimmers

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    Rail fare rises throughout Essex and the rest of the country have come into effect today, with season ticket prices rising by up to 2.5 per cent.

    The average fare of a rail ticket will also rise by 2.2 per cent, with trade unions complaining that the increases are still too high compared to wage increases.

    The government says that the hike in costs is crucial to funding rail modernisation.

    But the TUC has said that the UK's fares are some of the highest in Europe.

    Speaking to the BBC, the union's general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This year's fare hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly.

    "Rail fares are now consuming a huge proportion of people's wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses."

    RMT general secretary Mick Cash added that it was a "rip off".

    But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin defended the rise.

    He said: "We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation since the Victorian era and fares have a crucial role to play in funding these improvements.

    "This is because building better infrastructure helps create jobs, building a stronger economy for us all.

    "We are protecting passengers even further by stopping operating companies from increasing individual fares by up to 2 per cent more."

    Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group representing rail operators and Network Rail, said: "At 2.2 per cent, the average increase in fares in 2015 is the lowest for five years."

    What does every £1 spent on fares go into?

    97p – tracks, trains and staff along with other works

    3p – profits earned by train companies

    Rail fare increase sees season ticket prices rise by up to 2.5 per cent

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    So the presents have been opened and savoured, or thrown away, the food has been eaten and Christmas is over for another year.

    Unfortunately the decorations are still hanging up as a reminder of the long since departed festivities.

    So when should you take your decorations and Christmas tree down?

    The traditional time to take them down is on the Twelth Night, after the 12 days of Christmas but is this January 5 or January 6?

    The Church of England says this is on January 5 and refers to the night before Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the three wise men visited the baby Jesus.

    It is believed to be unlucky to leave your decorations hanging up for longer than the 12 nights.

    Some choose to remove all traces completely by January 2, the day after New Year's Day.

    And help is on the way in Essex this year, thanks to Farleigh Hospice, 15 volunteers in five vans, including Farleigh's own branded vehicle, will drive out to homes within postcodes CM1, CM2 and CM3 next weekend of January 10 and 11, to collect as part of its first tree recycling initiative.

    Residents can sign up for a minimum £5 donation online, with 80 per cent of their fee going straight to the charity, which cares for patients with life-limiting illnesses at the hospice and in their homes.

    When should I take my Christmas decorations down?

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    East of England Ambulance Service staff and volunteers dealt with more than 1,600 emergency calls during a busy New Year's Eve shift.

    Between 7pm on New Year's Eve and 5am on New Year's Day, the Trust received 1,616 999 calls, compared to the 1,737 it received during the same period last year.

    Between midnight and 5am, the Trust received 942 999 calls and responded to 700 incidents.

    The number of calls peaked between 1am and 2am on New Year's Day.

    New Year's Eve is traditionally the busiest night of the year for the ambulance service, and the Trust had put in place a contingency plan to deal with the expected increase in calls.

    Extra staff were made available in 999 control rooms and on the frontline, and more ambulances were put on the roads.

    Partnerships were also put in place with other services to staff minor injury units in some towns and cities to treat revellers during the evening's celebrations.

    Chief executive Anthony Marsh said: "I can't thank our staff and volunteers enough for working through the night and allowing the public to see in the New Year safely.

    "I spent last night out and about meeting crews and saw first-hand how hard everyone was working. Their commitment and dedication is truly remarkable.

    "I'm proud of all our staff and volunteers who have been carrying out lifesaving work for patients and the public in the East of England over this Christmas and New Year period."

    Extra ambulance staff deployed in Essex during New Year's Eve

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    A plane burst into flames as it was coming into land at Southend Airport this morning (January 2).

    Firefighters were called to the venue at around 8.30am after reports flames could be seen darting from the twin propeller's engine.

    The plane had 28 passengers and three crew members on board, landed safely on one engine with no injuries reported. Automatic fire suppression systems on the plane put it out before it landed.

    Firefighters inspected the engine to ensure the fire was completely out but took no further action. Crews began leaving shortly after 9am.

    Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, who attended the incident, said: "This was a text book operation. The fire was out by the time the plane touched down and no one appears to have been hurt.

    "Te plane landed safely on one engine and automatic fire suppression systems on board had completely extinguished the fire.

    "This had the potential to be an extremely serious incident but everything which should happen in a situation like this did and the plane was able to land safely and no one has been hurt."

    Fire crews called to Southend Airport after blaze onboard plane

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    Ten workers will be retained at Chelmsford's City Link depot after a rescue bid failed to come to fruition.

    The remainder of the formerly 48-strong workforce at the premises in Atholl Road were made redundant on New Year's Eve.

    Administrators Ernst & Young said: "An offer was made by a consortium which offered no money up front and significantly undervalued the assets to be acquired.

    "The administrators proposed an alternative structure that would be acceptable and common in these situations.

    "The consortium, despite attempts to make them reconsider, declined to amend their original offer."

    A total of 2,356 redundancies have been made across the company's UK sites.

    Only 371 people have been retained by City Link Limited to deal with the parcels that remain within the company's network, and to assist the joint administrators in realising the company's assets and winding down its operations.

    City Link: 38 people lose jobs at Chelmsford depot

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    A Ukip Essex County Councillor and Parliamentary candidate for Braintree died suddenly on Christmas Eve after suffering a suspected stroke.

    Gordon Helm had been attending a party branch meeting in the town on December 15 when he became ill.

    The 75-year-old was taken home, but then rushed to Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, where he died a week later, just after 6am on Christmas Eve.

    Jamie Huntman, Ukip group leader at Essex County Council said: "Gordon worked tirelessly for his residents and UKIP. Earlier his year he received an award at the UKIP conference in recognition of this.

    "He set up the Branch in Braintree and in his spare time when he had any wrote poetry. At the last Full Council he submitted a motion to help small business in Essex particularly the local High street.

    "I'm sure I can speak on behalf of all his fellow UKIP County Councillors when I say he will be fondly remembered and greatly missed."

    Cllr Helm joined Ukip in 2007 after reading about their policies online, was elected as an Essex county councillor for Bocking in May 2013, and was nominated to stand as their candidate in the May general election as well as being the chairman of the Ukip Braintree association.

    District councillor David Man, chairman of Braintree and Bocking Labour Party, said: "I knew Gordon long before he became involved in local politics.

    "That he offered himself for service in this way at a time of life when many would look for something quieter and simpler says a great deal about his energy, drive and commitment.

    "He was a most charming person, and will be much missed by his friends, community and party."

    Many in Ukip believed he had a good chance of becoming the district's MP after incumbent Brooks Newmark announced he would stand down following revelations he sent explicit text to a freelance journalist posing as a Tory PR girl as well as conducting a two-year affair with a married woman.

    "The tragedy is that Gordon could have been on the verge of becoming Braintree's MP, the feedback we were getting was very positive. We are a very successful association and it is largely down to Gordon," said Phil Palij, secretary of Ukip's Braintree association.

    "He was passionate about saving this country and we will continue as he would have wanted, in his name.

    "Gordon was straight-talking, was very good-natured and was able to set people at ease. He was my friend and will be sorely missed."

    Before becoming a councillor Mr Helm, who lives in Bocking, was a retail manager at B&Q, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.

    Ukip party leader, Nigel Farage, tweeted: "Gordon Helm was a committed activist who cared deeply about his community. He will be missed."

    Braintree District Council leader, Graham Butland tweeted: "I send my condolences to the family of County Councillor Gordon Helm who represented Bocking Division and who passed away on Christmas Eve.

    Mr Helm is survived by his wife Christine, a son, daughter and granddaughter, who just arrived from China to celebrate Christmas.

    His funeral will take place at 1pm on January 16 at The Three Counties Crematorium, High Garret, Halstead Road Braintree.

    Braintree Parliamentary candidate and Essex county councillor dies suddenly on Christmas Eve

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    Essex Police officers issued "strong words of advice" to person caught shining a "powerful torch" at its helicopter during an operation.

    The torch was shone at the helicopter while it searched for suspects fleeing from police in Great Dunmow on New Year's Day at around 11.40pm.

    Officers tried to stop a blue Renault Clio that had been speeding and the driver left the car and was arrest by officers.

    While on the hunt the Boreham-based helicopter was tracking the suspect it was "repeatedly targeted by a powerful torch" shone from the ground by someone walking a dog.

    The person responsible was found and "given very strong words of advice regarding actions and the potential seriousness and consequences of the offence".

    It was a busy night for the police helicopter as it also dealt with two other incidents in the early hours of the morning.

    At 3.20am the helicopter was called to South Woodham Ferrers to search the estuary after reports a distress flare was fired into the air.

    The area was cleared with the help of the South Woodham Coastguard.

    The police helicopter was also called to Aubrey Close, Chelmsford, three hours earlier.

    Unemployed Reece Pridmore, of Elwood, Harlow, was charged in connection with the alleged Great Dunmow offence with cannabis possession with intent to supply, failing to stop a vehicle when required to by officers, driving a vehicle without a licence an insurance.

    He has been bailed to appear at Colchester Magistrates Court on Monday, January 19.

    Dog walker targeted Essex Police helicopter with 'powerful torch'

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    A man will appear in court today in connection with an incident in which the police helicopter was dispatched to track down a vehicle seen speeding in Chelmsford.

    The driver of a grey Vauxhall Zafira failed to stop for police at around 12.15am on New Year's Day (January 1) after being spotted speeding in Chelmsford.

    The car was left near to Aubrey Close and a man was arrested by officers.

    Groundsman Ben Jolly, 27, of Hillary Close, Chelmsford was charged with aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving a motor vehicle when above the alcohol limit, failing to stop, using a motor vehicle without insurance, driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence and possession of cannabis.

    He was due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates Court today.

    Man charged after car spotted speeding in Chelmsford

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    The price of petrol is set to plummet below £1 a litre, continuing the welcoming trend of falling prices since autumn last year.

    A fall in the cost of crude oil is now being felt at the pumps. The average cost per litre is now 113.9p

    Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda have cut the cost at the pumps by 2p each.

    Oil dropped to $56 a barrel earlier this week, the biggest annual decline since 2008, and it believed the value will continue to drop.

    Avishai Moor, Sainsbury's head of fuel, said: "This is another way in which we can offer our customers real value for money when they fill up with Sainsbury's on New Year's Day."

    Andy Peake, the company's petrol trading director, said: "We're pleased to be giving drivers some early New Year savings with Asda once again leading the way with our thirteenth price cut on fuel since September.

    Prices are correct at time of publication, according to

    1. Sainsburys Springfield, White Hart Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 5PA 107.9pas of Jan 1
    2. Tesco Chelmsford 2, Princes Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 9DE 108.9pas of Jan 1
    3. Tesco Pitsea Extra, Off Station Lane, Pitsea, Essex, SS13 3JU 108.9pas of Jan 1
    4. Asda Basildon Eastgate, Eastgate, Basildon, Essex, SS14 1AE 108.9p as of Dec 29th
    5. Asda South Woodham Ferrers Automat, Ferrers Road, South Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 5SY, 109.7pas of Dec 29
    6. Morrisons Witham, Braintree Road, Witham, Essex, CM8 2DD 109.9p as of Jan 1
    7. Morrisons Maldon, Limebrook Way, Wycke Hill, Maldon, Essex, CM9 6GG 109.9pas of Jan 1
    8. Mrh Latchingdon Spar, The Street, Latchingdon, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 6JP 109.9pas of Dec 31
    9. Harold Park Service Station, Colchester Road, Harold Park, Romford, Essex, RM3 0AG 109.9pas of Dec 31
    10. Shell Tiptree, Maypole Road, Tiptree, Colchester, Essex, CO5 0EN 109.9pas of Dec 31

    Petrol prices: The top 10 cheapest places in Essex to fill up on fuel

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