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

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    A SMALL band of caravan owners have been set a February deadline by Maldon District Council to clear a patch of land they have called home for more than 30 years.

    Up to ten caravan and motorhome owners have used the Blackwater Estuary Estate in Maldon Road, Bradwell-on-Sea, since 1981, but face eviction if they do not leave.

    The estate has around 100 separate plot owners, who mostly visit as holidaymakers in the summer, but the council has refused to grant permission to allow people to stay on the site, even temporarily.

    In September, Neville Saveall and his partner Jean Gossage applied for permission to allow their motorhome to remain there permanently. But Maldon District Council turned them down.

    Since then the couple claim the council has asked other residents to leave after a site visit last month.

    Jean, 49, who works as a lorry driver for Travis Perkins, stays at the park occasionally, but after the council visit has moved to a lay-by near the site entrance.

    She told the Chronicle: "We just don't think it's fair at all. We have long-standing ties with Bradwell and the local area. I have been here on-and-off for almost 40 years."

    Residents have been set a deadline of the end of February to move or face eviction from the 27-acre estate.

    Ms Gossage added: "If we're evicted I don't know what we'll do. Like some of the others on here, we can't afford to buy a home, so we have been forced to live by the roadside seconds from our own land.

    "We have deep roots here. My children have gone to school from the site and in the past people have paid council tax from the plots here. I can't stress enough to the council that we don't want to build anything on here.

    "The support from the local community has been brilliant, people know that we look after the land and we have strict rules about rubbish and who can come on here."

    Retiree Mr Saveall, 69, bought his plot in 1981 but has been visiting since as early as 1971 when he says he remembers the land being sold as 400 leisure plots.

    Maldon District Council refused his application for permanent parking because of "visual encroachment and harm to the character" of the rural landscape.

    "We are all closed in here with mature trees and fields surrounding the site so I don't see how this could be a visual intrusion to anyone," said Mr Saveall.

    "We would be happy to pay some money to the council, for instance, in the form of ground rent to stay. All we want is the legal right to be able to stay on our land for some periods during the year."

    Maldon District Council can give permission for leisure sites or caravan parks to open for certain months of the year.

    Ms Gossage added: "To just receive a 'no' wasn't very helpful. There must be some form of middle ground."

    Councillor Penny Channer, chairman of the council's planning and licensing committee, said: "The council has previously informed those on the site of the ongoing breach, and a number of people have removed their caravans and other such items from the land.

    "However, the council now has no option but to take firm action against those who are persistently breaching the planning enforcement notice which has been placed on this land.

    "This latest action has seen officers from the council attend the site in order to ascertain what is left on the land, whilst also giving notice to the occupiers.

    "Although the council would always try to resolve issues without such direct action, it is important that the planning rules are adhered to and the council will not hesitate to take similar action where breaches of planning enforcement have occurred."

    Mr Saveall and Ms Gossage have since appealed to stay on the site.

    Eviction threat to families in caravans over enforcement 'breach'


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    A man is due in Chelmsford Magistrates' Court today (January 10) in connection with last month's fatal multi-vehicle smash on the M25 in Essex.

    Adam Olkusz, a 25-year-old unemployed man of no fixed address, was charged with death by dangerous driving in relation to the incident, which happened between junctions 26 and 27 in the early hours of December 9.

    It involved multiple vehicles including a Peugeot car, a Scania lorry, a DAF artic, a Mercedes lorry and a Romanian lorry. 

    Bhagwant Singh, a 39-year-old man from Leicestershire, died and four other people were injured and required hospital treatment at the time.

    A 33-year-old man from Leicester was also arrested following the incident on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He is on bail pending further enquiries until Wednesday, April 8.

    Man charged over fatal M25 Essex collision


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    A 38-year-old man is being questioned by police following reports of threats to service station staff with a "bladed weapon".

    The disturbance happened in Tiptree this morning (Saturday, January 10) just after 7am at the Shell Service Station in Maypole Road.

    Officers attended after reports a man at the location was making threats and the man, from Tiptree, is being questioned at a local police station.

    The man was said to have been armed with some kind of bladed weapon, causing staff and members of the public to be concerned.

    Armed officers were sent to the scene and made an arrest in the local area just before 8am with enquiries continuing.

    The service garage and three locations in Tiptree have been cordoned off whilst these enquiries continue.

    Essex police say that this appears to be an isolated incident and no one else is suspected to be involved at this stage. 

    Chief Inspector Denise Morrissey said: "A man has been arrested. No firearms were seen. 

    "I would like to thank the public for their assistance whilst our enquiries continue.

    Anyone who witnessed the incident or can provide any further information is asked to contact Colchester CID on Essex Police 101. 

    People can also give information to the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via an Anonymous Online Form at

    One suspect arrested after service station staff threatened with


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    A former bank worker has received a 12 month suspended sentence for pretending to have cervical cancer in a bid to fleece generous donators of more than £6,000 to pay for 'treatment'.

    Danielle Watson, 24, was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court yesterday (Friday, January 9) after admitting six counts of fraud by false representation.

    She admitted all charges at the start of her trial in October 2014.

    During the trial jurors had heard she intended to pocket the cash to pay for a dream wedding.

    The court heard she also accepted donations from bridal suppliers for a wedding after claiming she didn't have long to live.

    A charity fund was also started in her name after she told staff at a bridal shop that failing health had caused her to bring her wedding forward.

    Donated items for her dream wedding in April 2012 included a free wedding dress, wedding planning services, hair styling, 10 bottles of champagne and a heavily discounted reception venue.

    Watson, from Colchester, was arrested in July 2012 and later charged with six counts of fraud by false representation.

    Speaking after the sentence, Investigating Officer Dc Rob Lewis said: "We would like to thank the large number of witnesses and victims for their patience and support throughout the investigation.

    "Danielle Watson acted in a cold and calculated manner, she be-friended and abused the trust of kind and generous people who wanted to help a person they thought was dying.

    "She obtained significant financial gain, gifts and services from the kind hearted.

    "At no stage in the investigation did she demonstrate any form of remorse or shoulder responsibility for her conduct."

    He added: "Albeit the victims are disappointed with the sentence received by Mrs Watson, justice has today been served.

    "We hope that this will deter others from committing rare crimes of this nature, which have such as devastating impact on the victims. And sadly have an adverse effect on the good work of charities.

    "We would like to reassure the public that Essex Police will take positive action to bring offenders to justice."

    Bank worker receives 12 month suspended sentence for faking terminal cancer to fund dream wedding


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    An estimated 200 people crowded onto Chelmsford skatepark on Friday (January 9) to pay tribute to a much-loved skateboarder struck deadby a car in Cyprus.

    Tristan Bennett, 37, was walking back to his mother's home in the Mediterranean island after a few drinks with friends at a bar on Christmas Eve, December 24, when he is believed to have stumbled into the road and into the path of a 4x4.

    Tristan, who frequently returned to Chelmsford where he lived with family in the Chignal area, leaves behind an almighty-long list of friends who remembered him for his "stylish" skating in Central Park.

    Friends skated on the Central Park half-pipe, released Chinese lanterns and an impressive selection of fireworks in his memory from about 4.30pm on Friday evening.

    Friend Luke Mac Duke, who organised the gathering, paid tribute to a "nomadic" soul who many will remember fondly for talking at length about conspiracy theories.

    "He was a diamond of a soul and you can see today how many people he touched just in the Chelmsford area," said the 33-year-old of Kings Tower, Chelmsford, who credited Tristan with introducing him to skate parks across the South East.

    "I reckon he'd be over the moon and blown away by what has gone on today, as because he often went on about conspiracy theories he worried that he pushed people away and perhaps thought he was not as part of the community as he thought he was."

    Luke also paid tribute to a man who was "brave" enough to travel, with friends citing Bristol, Brighton where he studied at University, Dublin, Amsterdam and of course Cyprus as just a selection of the places he lived.

    "I've been in tears for a couple of days about it, I was really cut up, it feels like you have lost a brother," said Luke, who also runs skate school Triple Swords.

    Friend Nigel Davies, 39, from Rainham, said: "He was a bit of a genius. He was someone who could read three books in a night and remember all of it. There was nothing he couldn't take in."

    Hundreds have paid their respects, including his little brother Toby, on a Facebook page devoted to Tristan.

    The young man who's car struck Tristan is reportedly devastated.

    Hundreds pay Chelmsford skatepark tribute to much-loved Cyprus crash victim Tristan Bennett


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    Three men have been charged with aggravated burglary after an imitation firearm was used to steal cash and threaten occupants of a home in Southminster.

    A property in Kings Croft, was targeted by burglars on Friday afternoon, January 9, with police officers, including a dog unit and a police helicopter, tracking three suspects.

    An imitation firearm was used to threaten the occupants of the property with an amount of cash stolen, fortunately no one was injured.

    The three suspects then left the scene in a grey Ford Mondeo.

    Ricky Cox, 22, unemployed, of Stuart Close, Pilgrims Hatch, James Hyde, 22, a labourer from Lancaster Close, Pilgrims Hatch, and Pio Evans, a 23-year-old gardener of Woodland Avenue, Hutton, were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

    The three men will appear at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Monday, January 12, following detailed enquiries by detectives from Chelmsford CID.

    They were arrested in Pilgrims Hatch, Brentwood, at about 1.30pm on Friday.

    Police are grateful for the support from members of the public in dealing with criminal activity.

    Anybody with any information about suspicious behaviour is urged to contact police on 101 or they can do it via independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Imitation firearm used in  Southminster burglary


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    Essex Boy Ryan Green was been selected by Rita Ora to join her team on the very first episode of The Voice 2015.

    Ryan Green, 17, from Ilford, was unable to get Tom Jones, Will I Am or Ricky Wilson to turn their chairs round and select him.

    The singer has performed in the Brentwood area at the Weald country park and on Phoenix FM.

    But Rita was very keen to hold onto the teenager who sang Coldplay's Magic to a studio audience.

    Rita Ora said: "He's so cute. You're a breath of fresh air."

    The teenager also performed in last year's show but did not make it past the audition stage. 

    Essex boy Ryan Green selected to join Rita Ora's team on The Voice


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    An 11-year-old boy has not been seen since he was reported missing from his home in Southend. 

    Cameron Evans lives with his grandparents in Bournemouth Park Road. He was last seen by them at 1pm yesterday (January 10), after he told them he was going out to a friend's house.

    The Seebrook College student did not return home and last night his grandparents contacted police who have spent the night and this morning searching for him.

    He is described as white, 3ft 10ins to 4ft tall, has mousey brown cropped hair, brown eyes and was wearing a blue zip up hooded top, grey tracksuit bottoms and white trainers. 

    He was riding a red BMX bike.

    Anybody with any information about where he may be is asked to contact officers at Southend on Essex Police 101.

    Appeal to find missing Cameron Evans, 11, from Southend


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    Horse Racing has returned to Essex as the new Chelmsford City Racecourse, formerly known as Great Leighs, opens its doors for the first time in six years.

    It's the dawn of a new era for the racecourse which had to close its doors in 2008 because of financial difficulties but will again host horse racing. 

    The invitation only day will see the movers and shakers of the racing world descend on the course today (Sunday January 11).

    And Irish horse Tryster made history by becoming the first horse to win at the renamed course.

    Here are 11 important things to know ahead of the opening:

    1. Capacity: The track will be able to hold 3,000 people when it opens to the public, potentially on February 1, depending how well the first test events go.

    2. Big money: The £25 million renovation included a £6 million grandstand built

    3. Fixtures: Course bosses have secured 58 fixtures for the 2015 season and may get as many as 90 later in the year.

    4. Night races: It has an all-weather track, but also a turf course and will be the first in the country to hold night races on a turf track.

    5. Numbers: Between 500 and 600 people will be at the event today.

    6. Wrestling matches: The track's owner Betfred – the world's largest independent bookmakers – has a licence to host live and recorded music events, indoor sports, dance performances, film screenings, plays, plus wrestling matches and boxing at the racecourse.

    7. Betting: There will be two ways to bet including Totepool or fixed odds betting with the bookmakers.

    8. Races: There will be seven races along the seven furlong track on Sunday.

    9. Prize money: Total prize money will be over £78,000 with £20,000 given out in two races each.

    10. Prices: Online prices will be starting from £15 with tickets also available to buy at the entrance from £17.

    11. Food: Two restaurants are in the grandstand including The Fairwood restaurant on the ground floor will offer two and three course menu options starting from £41 person. The Club Restaurant and Lounge a la carte restaurant is on the first floor of the grandstand offering panoramic views over the racecourse with packages starting from £62 per person.

    Horse Racing returns to Essex as Chelmsford City Racecourse opens today


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    A boy who sparked concern after he was reported missing from his home in Southend has been found safe and well, Essex Police have said.

    Cameron Evans, 11, was located by officers at an address in Sutton Road at around 12.20pm today (January 11).

    He has been reunited with his worried grandparents.

    Members of the public have been thanked for their help with the initial police appeal

    Missing Southend boy Cameron Evans found safe and well


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    A COMMUTER is lobbying the region's trains operator after discovering it can be cheaper to travel from Norwich to London than it is from Chelmsford on the same train.

    Tom Defty, founder of Essex Weather and Flood Forecasting Centre, discovered that Abellio Greater Anglia charges £6 more for a single fare to get to the capital from the county town than it costs from Norwich on specific off-peak journeys – despite the average journey being more than three times as long.

    Currently, the cheapest available single fare from Chelmsford to London is £15.10, while the cheapest single from Norwich to London is £9, but is currently on offer at £5.

    And although fares at peak times reflected the difference in distance between Essex towns and those further away, the 32-year-old said he would be saving more than £3,000 per year if he was commuting off-peak from Norwich.

    "On a normal day for me, I would be paying £3,270 less to get to London.

    "I would like the pricing to be fair along the whole line, not just chunks of it," explained Mr Defty, who usually commutes into London from Chelmsford during off-peak times to the weather centre's offices in Holborn.

    "There is no opportunity to get a cheap ticket if you live in Essex, it's all one pricing structure. I'm sure people would use off-peak trains more to go into London if the prices were lower.

    "We actually had to move Essex Weather to London as we couldn't guarantee that we could get from Chelmsford to London quickly if we needed to, and it's no surprise that the trains are a struggle.

    "Last year I was more than 15 minutes late on 73 occasions coming into London from Chelmsford. My colleagues and I are used to poor conditions – but now the pricing from Chelmsford is more than £15."

    The same issue applies to other locations in Essex.

    People commuting to London Liverpool Street from Braintree will find themselves paying £21.40 for an off-peak single, while people coming in from Witham will be paying £20.80, compared to £9 in Ipswich or Norwich.

    However, customers may be able to claw back some cash via return tickets, which are cheaper than returns from Norfolk and Suffolk, while those commuting in peak times will also be making a saving over those coming in from Norwich or Ipswich.

    Abellio said it would not be feasible to offer such a fare discount from stations like Chelmsford, given that it was a "walk-up service" as opposed to Norwich, where pre-buy tickets were deemed to be more appropriate.

    A spokesman for the operator added: "In line with other operators of Intercity train services, we offer Advance Purchase ticket products on our services between Norwich and London.

    "These are longer distance tickets for one way travel with a range of ticket prices, dependent on the time of travel and how far in advance customers are able to book. These products are only available on a specific train and from certain mainline stations, subject to availability.

    "Advance tickets are usually not available for shorter distance journeys to London from stations such as Chelmsford.

    "Passengers from Chelmsford can travel on any train provided they hold the appropriate ticket for their journey."

    The rules dictating the lower fares from destinations such as Norwich were brought in almost 15 years ago, prior to Abellio taking over the route, and the company has no immediate plans to change them – although there may well be more fare flexibility in future.

    The spokesperson added: "Meanwhile, there are likely to be future developments in the rail industry with the introduction of more smartcard type ticketing systems, which will potentially create greater flexibility and new travel choices for passengers.

    "The Department for Transport is currently running a consultation exercise on their website inviting passengers and stakeholders to contribute their views on what developments and improvements they would like to see taken forward as part of the next long franchise for the Greater Anglia network area, which is due to commence in October 2016."


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    NEGOTIATIONS over the future of a proposed £10 million revamp of Braintree town centre that began five years ago are still continuing.

    Developer Henry Boot was given a deadline of December 31 to submit its plans to Braintree District Council.

    But this was extended by the authority after news plans could also include a new doctors' surgery in the complex.

    The 32,000 sq ft proposal on land behind the town hall could house a gym and a new town square, health and leisure facilities and now Mount Chambers GP surgery, which is currently in Coggeshall Road.

    The council first began working with Henry Boot in 2009, but says that the town and retail patterns have changed since this initial venture began.

    A spokesman for Braintree District Council said: "Due to Mount Chambers Surgery gaining permission from the NHS to expand the surgery, this has now led to ongoing negotiation between the doctors and Henry Boot, and as such it may be necessary to extend the development agreement beyond the December deadline.

    "We are in regular contact with all parties involved, and we expect plans to be submitted in the near future."

    Adrian Schofield, regional manager for Henry Boot Developments, said the company intended to continue with the Braintree scheme.

    £10m Braintree revamp plans are 'ongoing'


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    A PAIR of loyal regulars at a hotel in the town have had a function room named after them to reward their many visits over the last 50 years.

    John and Effie Barnes can often be seen enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or meal in the restaurant of the White Hart Hotel in Bocking End, Braintree, two or three times a week and have become well-known faces in the establishment.

    Mr Barnes, 82, said: "I am really touched that our custom has been recognised in this way and we are very proud to be a permanent part of the White Hart.

    "The staff are great, their service is good, we get on with Steve Bryan the manager and his colleagues. It's a central location and we live within a reasonable distance, so it's very convenient."

    The couple visit the restaurant around two or three times a week for coffee in the morning, and often stay for a meal as well.

    They have also held numerous family functions at the hotel during their decades of patronage.

    Mr Barnes, who has lived in Braintree with his wife for 40 years, said: "When he told me they were naming the room after us I thought he was joking at first – it's very nice of them to do and the room looks good.

    "I'm not much of a drinker, I'll have the odd glass of wine with a meal but mainly we go there for tea and coffee.

    "The White Hart is a real asset to the town centre. It's a lovely place and we have got to know a lot of the other regulars over the years, there's an excellent atmosphere."

    Mr Barnes first used the conference room that now bears his name in the 1960s when he held meetings as part of his various NHS management jobs in Chelmsford, including the Chelmsford School of Nursing that became part of Colchester and District Hospitals in 1974.

    The White Hart officially opened the newly christened Barnes Room last week, one year after the hotel itself re-opened following a refurbishment.

    The hotel dates back to the 16th century and is Braintree's oldest building.

    The refit to all areas of the hotel included a new bar, a large dedicated restaurant in the main room, previously used for large events, and a more informal dining and drinking area, as well as work in all 32 bedrooms.

    General manager Steve Bryan said: "All the team look forward to seeing Mr and Mrs Barnes, whether they are just popping in for a quick coffee or bringing all their family for a celebration.

    "It is a genuine pleasure to welcome them every visit and we are pleased to be able to do something small to acknowledge their loyalty."

    50 years loyal custom at White Hart Hotel sees couple have room named after them


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    FIVE years after community-minded villagers came together to save their local pub, they have finally agreed a deal to purchase the freehold.

    The Norton, in Latchingdon Road, Cold Norton, has been run by volunteers since they stepped in to save it from demolition in August 2009 after two years of closure.

    And now the Norton Freehouse Management Committee has struck a deal to buy the freehold of the land where the pub sits, the grand vision for the watering hole can be realised, according to committee member Paul Guppy.

    "Buying the freehold is key to our plan for The Norton as it reduces costs. It's like owning your own home – you're in control," said semi-retired consultant engineer Paul.

    A new restaurant is set to open inside the pub next month, with homemade food on the menu served up.

    More than £120,000 was raised by a Community Share Issue scheme from over 80 local shareholders to cover the deposit and fees required, with a mortgage granted by Unity Trust Bank for the balance.

    "The enthusiasm is still there for the pub," says Paul, 58, who is part of the nine-strong pub committee.

    "It was a lot harder work than we all thought but it's been such a success. And we all chip in on a part-time basis to help out.

    "We wanted The Norton to be more than a boozer, we wanted it to be the hub of the community, a proper country pub, and I think that we have achieved that."

    The pub was closed for two years from 2007 to 2009 before it reopened as the South of England's first community-owned pub.

    And in January last year it was chosen by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) to represent its Pubs and the Economy campaign, that served to highlight the importance of the local to the British economy.

    The pub serves a wide range of real ales and has regular live music along with quiz nights, bingo and two darts teams.

    Paul's wife, Debbie, who is chair of the management committee, said: "We have proved that by sheer hard work and determination it is possible to stop the decline in the number of rural village pubs and thus preserving important community assets.

    "We would like to thank all of our volunteers, customers, shareholders and staff for their support over the past few years."

    The committee are now looking for a name for the new restaurant so if you have an idea you can send to paul.guppy@btinternet.com

    New restaurant set for The Norton after volunteers scoop freehold


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    Police are investigating after a mother and young daughter had the the rear windscreen of the car they were travelling in shattered by an object whilst travelling at 70mph on the A127.

    The incident occurred on the A127 in Basildon on Thursday, January 8 at around 4.50pm when an object hit the rear windscreen of the Seat Ibiza they were traveling in.

    A 38-year-old woman from Chelmsford was travelling London bound and her young daughter was in the back of the car at the time and could have been injured by the object.

    She just entered the 70 mph zone near the junction with the A176 at Laindon when an object hit her rear windscreen causing it to shatter.

    The woman stopped her car on Pound Lane and called the police.

    It is not is not clear what the object was or if it was thrown or fired at the car.

    Anybody with any information or anybody who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact Pc Rob Duffy at Laindon on Essex Police 101.

    People can also give information to the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via an Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

    Chelmsford mother has rear windscreen shattered at 70mph while travelling with her child in the back seat


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    A man has been charged with two counts of making a bomb threats and threatening to kill a police officer following an incident in Tiptree on Saturday morning.

    Paul Clarke, 38, an unemployed man from Chestnut Way in Tiptree, was arrested just after 8am on Saturday (January 10) by armed police officers.

    Officers were called to the Shell Tiptree Service Station in Maypole Road at just after 7am after reports that a man at the location was making threats to staff and members of the public.

    He was in possession of a number of bladed weapons and damage was caused to the pumps on the petrol station forecourt.

    Minutes later officers received a call from a member of the public in nearby Kings Court to say a man had smashed a silver Ford Focus car, threatening the woman inside.

    No one was injured and the four cordons put in place by police officers investigating the incident were lifted later that day.

    He was charged on Sunday (January 11) and has been remanded to appear before magistrates in Colchester on Monday (January 12).

    Clarke has also been charged with criminal damage, possession of a bladed article in a public place and two counts of affray.

    Man with


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    Police are looking for the driver of a sports car that collided with a Land Rover on the A12, then sped off leaving the 4x4 on its roof.

    The crash happened on the southbound carriageway at J26 of the A12, on Friday, December 26.

    Police were called at around 9.30pm with reports of an overturned black Land Rover which was believed to have collided with a black sports car. 

    The driver of the sports car failed to stop at the scene and the four occupants of the Land Rover sustained minor injuries.

    Anybody with any information about the incident is asked to contact PC Grant Fryatt at the Stanway Road Policing Unit on Essex Police 101.

    Police hunt sports car driver that left scene of A12 crash


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    Arsenal's midfield troubles have been well documented this season and it has been reported Arsene Wenger will be dipping into the transfer funds to fill the void with the Polish 'Patrick Viera.

    Krystian Bielik has only made five appearances for Legia Warsaw this season but that's been enough for the Arsenal manager to make him one of his top transfer targets this season.

    Last week it was reported that Arsenal made a £1.6 million bid for the Polish U16 international but was quickly rebuffed by Legia Warsaw and are looking for a bid in the region of £2.5 million.

    The North London club have recent trysts with Legia Warsaw with Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski both making the switch in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

    A young player who is gaining reputation fast is the sort of player Wenger is renowned for chasing and if the hype is backed by ability then the Arsenal manager may have discovered yet another gem that could also answer his midfielder problems.


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    Tottenham Hotspur have reportedly grown increasingly tired over the Saido Berahino saga and have now turned their attentions to Birmingham City youngster Demarai Gray.

    The 18-year-old would be a much cheaper option for the North London club as AFC Bournemouth are believed to have tabled a bid of £1.5 million.

    His quick feet and ability on the ball has already earned him high praise, drawing comparisons to Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, and his hat-trick in Birmingham's 6-1 demolition of Reading mid-December only enanced his reputation.

    Mauricio Pochettino has already shown willingness to play the more youthful players over experienced, much like he did at Southampton, which would please Gray and may tempt the youngster into a move.


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    CHELMSFORD City's play-off hopes took a dent as they lost 3-1 at Weston-super-Mare on Saturday.

    The Clarets headed to Somerset hoping to take advantage of teams around them not playing and reclaim a place in the Conference South play-off places.

    But two goals from Bradley Ash and one from Dayle Grubb secured the win for the home side, as Lee Sawyer netted a penalty in time added on for City.

    The hosts went into the just three point above the relegation zone, but had won three out of four games over the festive period.

    The Clarets, unsurprisingly, were unchanged from the team that beat Farnborough 6-2 in their previous match, with manager Mark Hawkers sticking with a back three of Michael Toner, Marvin Ekpiteta and Harry Hickford.

    The game began quietly, but City keeper Bradley Watkins was the first of the two custodians called into action, turning wide Grubb's low shot, after he had been found by Jamie Edge's pull back.

    However, the Clarets fell behind on 19 minutes when Oliver Watkins' shot from the edge of the box looped up off a defender. Ash got his head to the ball first, beating Toner, and flicking an effort over the stranded Bradley Watkins.

    With the swirling wind and bobbly pitch causing problems for both sets of players, the conditions presented the hosts with two chances to extend their lead.

    The first Bradley Watkins' clearance from a Hickford back-pass went straight to Grubb, but his effort from distance didn't have the required power to beat the scampering keeper who just retreated in time to push the ball wide.

    Then in time added on at the end of the first half, a wind-assisted goal kick from Luke Purnell looped over the Clarets back line for Oliver Watkins to latch onto, but his namesake in the City net stopped him from going any further, diving at the Weston player's feet to make a fine save.

    With the wind in their favour in the second half City went in search of an early equaliser having failed to test the home keeper in the first period.

    Their best chance came when Rob Girdlestone's strike from distance was blocked, but fell straight into the path of Michael Cheek who, one-on-one with Purnell, stabbed the ball wide. It was a chance you usually expect him to gobble up.

    The Clarets were given a let off when Oliver Watkins blazed over after Grubb had charged at the visiting defence, before slipping the ball into the left channel for the winger just inside the box.

    Purnell spilled a free-kick from deep, which the home side could only half clear and the ball made it's way to Sawyer 19 yards out, but with the keeper out of position, the City man failed to hit the target.

    With ten minutes to go City's fate was sealed after Grubb carried the ball to the edge of the area and powered a shot past Bradley Watkins into the bottom corner.

    The home side made the result certain in stoppage time as substitute Joe McClennan tricked his way past Girdlestone, cutting one way and then another, he got to the byline in the box before firing across goal for Ash to tap in from two yards out.

    City at least made sure they got on the scoresheet for the first time in three visits to Weston, when Mark Hughes was brought down in the penalty area and Swayer stepped up to send Purnell then wrong way. 

    Chelmsford City have a day to forget at Weston-super-Mare


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