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

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    A pedestrian in her 90s has died following a collision involving a bus.

    Officers were called to East Hill shortly before 5pm tonight, Friday, January 16, following reports of the collision involving a pedestrian and a bus.

    East Hill has been closed and is likely to remain shut until about 10pm for police investigations. 

    Drivers are being advised to avoid central Colchester while the closure continues.

    Any witnesses, or anyone with information about the circumstances leading to the incident, san contact the Essex Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 101 or email

    Pedestrian in her 90s dies after East Hill bus crash in Colchester

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    WRITTLE'S exiled goose Godfrey was this week joined in hospital by the same gang of Indian runner ducks who put him there in the first place.

    After reading of Godfrey's plight at the hands of four village pond intruders, residents took matters into their own hands on Saturday.

    Bob Hibberd, 68, was joined by friend Glenn Barnby, 38, Nicholas Warn, 46, and Martin Tyler, 50, as they rounded up the troublesome quartet of ducks for the RSPCA to collect.

    Armed with large nets and waterproof attire, the four men jumped in to the pond on The Green and captured Godfrey's arch nemeses in less than half an hour.

    Mr Hibberd, who has lived in the village since 1997, said: "It was quite amazing how quickly we did the job. We had them caught and caged within 25 minutes. They are the most aggressive ducks I have ever seen, it was quite remarkable.

    "It was no wonder Godfrey was looking glum in the days before they beat him up and he was taken away."

    Sue Schwar, founder of the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Orsett, says that Writtle's beloved bird has found companionship at the veterinary centre, but is still on medication.

    She said: "Godfrey has got serious arthritis in his legs, although there is nothing unusual about that in older animals. It is comforting to see he has attached himself to a group of geese which are the same breed as him.

    "He is on daily pain relief so it is debatable whether we will release him or not. If there is no-one to look after him full-time at the pond it would be cruel to leave him to fend for himself again.

    "Without his medication he will be in constant pain, which isn't fair on him. We have to be careful not to be sentimental – anything which is to his detriment we will not entertain."

    Godfrey will now be joined at the wildlife centre by the Indian runner ducks, although residents can rest assured they will be kept far away from the Writtle stalwart, a Toulouse goose believed to be about 45 years old.

    The RSPCA picked up the ducks from the house of Nicholas Warn's mother on Saturday, allowing a calm tranquillity to return to the pond, albeit without the pond's patriarch Godfrey, who has starred in children's books.

    Mrs Warn, 70, said: "I didn't think four ducks could cause such mayhem. I walked past the pond after they had gone and all the remaining ducks looked relaxed once again.

    "I would like to say, though, that the whole episode could have been avoided if the Indian runner ducks were not abandoned there at all.

    "People should contact the RSPCA if they no longer want a domestic animal."

    Katya Mira, of the RSPCA, said: "I have spoken with the animal collection officer about Godfrey and he is stable for the moment, but it is too early to say if he is well enough to return to the pond."

    Writtle residents stand behind exiled Godfrey the Goose as 'aggressive' ducks are chased off

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    A REMORSEFUL father-of-three is turning his life around after admitting he could have killed someone in a high-speed drunken police chase.

    Ben Jolly pleaded guilty to seven charges at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court after doing "probably the most stupid thing" he ever did in the early hours of New Year's Day.

    After the Chronicle reported his court hearing last week, he agreed to an interview in which he vowed to devote his life to work and family.

    "I made a stupid mistake and that was pathetic," said the 27-year-old from Hillary Close, Springfield.

    "It's true, I could have killed other people. I have three kids to think about. It's probably the most stupid thing I have ever done and I've done a few stupid things in my life.

    "I can't turn the clock back that's for sure, but I want everyone else to know that I admit it was a stupid, drunk mistake, and I want to apologise for what I have done and I don't want anyone else to get in a car drunk, because it isn't worth it in the long run, I should have just walked."

    Jolly says he drank about six or seven pints in the Rose and Crown in Writtle on New Year's Eve, mostly Strongbow cider topped with lemonade, when he drove his friend home to Melbourne.

    After dropping him off, police spotted Jolly speeding on Waterhouse Lane at 12.15am.

    A chase ensued along Rainsford Lane, the Robjohns Road industrial estate, where Jolly hit a police car, and Broomfield Road.

    "I went to reverse back and I tapped his car very slightly, but there was no ramming," he said.

    The chase ended when Jolly stopped in Petersfield and jumped through the bushes off Valley Bridge into the River Chelmer.

    Soaked, muddy and cut, he gave himself up when he saw a police helicopter overhead.

    "I panicked," he said.

    "I should have just pulled over – I thought I could get away."

    He admitted at the court hearing on Friday, January 2, to driving a motor vehicle when above the alcohol limit, dangerous driving, 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 says he does not know how the cannabis ended up in his car, and despite pleading guilty to a seventh charge – aggravated vehicle taking – he bought the Vauxhall Zafira, but it is registered in his girlfriend's name.

    Jolly also disputes he was breathalysed at 67 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath – as stated in the Chronicle – and indeed the Crime Prosecution Service states he measured 57 microgrammes. 

    A lawyer in court is believed to have made the error in saying the higher amount.

    The legal limit is 35.

    "I'm not what the paper made me out to be, I am not a joyrider and a drunk," said Jolly, who has had abuse over the phone and on Facebook regarding the incident.

    Jolly, who dropped out of Helena Romanes School in Great Dunmow at 14, has served a number of prison terms and has ten convictions for fighting, fraud and burglary.

    He says his latest conviction is his first in six years.

    The self-employed groundworker, also a former roofer and car technician, has applied for a three-year apprenticeship course at Colchester Institute with two companies, including British Gas, since the court hearing.

    He said: "I don't plan on getting arrested anymore and I'm planning on starting a future with my family."

    Jolly is scheduled for sentencing during the three weeks commencing Monday, January 19, and could be jailed.

    Chelmsford dad Ben Jolly: Police chase probably the most stupid thing I have ever done

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    CAROLINE Shearer started the anti-weapons charity Only Cowards Carry after her son, Jay Whiston, was stabbed to death at a party in Colchester in 2012, aged just 17.

    Edward Redman, now 18, of Stanway, is currently serving a 17-year jail term for the murder.

    Ms Shearer says the charity will be writing to all Chelmsford schools to see if they want them to give a workshop to their students, following the latest incidents.

    "For us Chelmsford is definitely our next focus," she said.

    " The talks we give are for all children, we even go into primary schools to raise awareness and help keep our children safe.

    "Children who have concerns come to us when we go into schools – some of the scariest things we've found was an eight-year-old with a knife, as well as others with machetes, knives that have been made to look like a mobile phone, or credit cards with blades in them.

    "Some of the images the trainers show children graphically show the results of knife crime, in a bid to shock youngsters into staying away from carrying weapons.

    "One demonstration shows that it only takes an inch of a knife to kill someone.

    "It's only parents who have been through it who can understand how to get through it," added Caroline.

    "A lot of the problems come from drugs and alcohol, but also peer-pressure. Education is the best way to stop the cycle and change their mind-set.

    "The most dangerous schools are ones that think they don't have a problem. We've found public schools also have bad knife problems."

    Clive Knowles, managing director at British Ironwork Centre, based in Oswestry, Shropshire, plans to make a 200ft angel out of blades handed into police, and Caroline is trying to get a feather of that sculpture constructed from knives taken off the streets of Essex.

    Anti-knife workshops to set up in schools by mum of Jay Whiston

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    BRAINTREE Town paid for their profligacy as they went down 2-1 at home to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

    In an entertaining game against a vastly more experienced and expensively gathered visiting side, Braintree just missed that in the that little bit of extra quality in front of goal where it counted.

    Despite going a goal behind on 68 minutes the Iron came back strongly and equalised with six minutes to go but three minutes later conceded a dreadful goal that allowed the visitors to return to their Cotswold home with all three points.

    It left Iron manager Alan Devonshire a frustrated and angry man after the game: "We worked really hard and should have been in the lead by at least a couple of goals before they scored.

    "But we get ourselves back in the game and deservedly so with an equaliser, then they go straight up the other end and we give away a dreadful goal that shouldn't have happened and we know better not to do.

    "It really is frustrating and I was annoyed with the players and afterwards told them so."

    Devonshire, who kept the same starting line-up from their FA Trophy win the previous week, emphasised that his players must take the chances when they come along.

    "I felt we were really in control the game in the first half against what is a good side who, like us, want to play attractive football," he said. "But we let ourselves down because we should have at least taken a draw from the game if nothing else."

    The only real first half threat on the Iron goal came from a terrific first time shot by Sam Wedgebury which Iron keeper Nick Hamann saved superbly pushing the ball on to the bar and away.

    Hamann said: "I saw it coming late but my natural reflexes pushed it away but really we had the more chances to score in the game, particularly in the first hour.

    "I am disappointed because we've been doing well recently on a good run with everyone back from injury and we again played well in this game but simply didn't take the chances when we had them.

    "We then get punished for giving away two poor goals so quickly and there are no excuses."

    Forest Green Rovers boss Ady Pennock admitted his side were fortunate to win adding: "It's a really tough place to come and they put us under a lot of pressure and it really could have ended 6-6.

    "But conceding a goal like we did, then to go up the other end and score three minutes later was very good but we threw our bodies on the line and had that little bit of luck."

    The Iron, who forced nine corners to the visitors' two in the first half, should have taken the lead from one of their three gilt-edged chances within the first six minutes.

    First Remy Clerima saw his header deflected just over and the unmarked Jordan Cox put his header was just wide of the target from the following corner and on six minutes Cox, again unmarked, missed a completely open goal from the edge of the penalty box after great work down the right from Chez Isaac.

    All he had to do was tap the ball into the empty net although in fairness the ball appeared to initially get caught in the heavy surface of the goalmouth but the chance nonetheless went begging.

    Forest Green settled into the game after the hosts' early burst and began impressing themselves on what was an open game of football.

    The visitors gradually saw more of the ball, particularly the effective left winger Elliott Frear, who fired just over with a shot from the left and then on 18 minutes worked the ball back to Wedgbury who unleashed a fierce shot from 25 yards that Hamann finger-tipped on to the bar.

    The Iron kept up the pressure and again looked dangerous going forward but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.

    Within six minutes of the restart the Iron again wasted a great opportunity to score when they broke into the visitors' box. Simeon Akinola evaded a challenge by Wedgbury and raced clear before switching the play over to Isaac on the right.

    The diminutive midfielder cut inside and had a shot that was smothered first by Rovers keeper Sam Russell and as the ball ran loose Cox was just unable to flick it into the net as, somehow, Russell managed to turn round and grab the ball at the second attempt.

    With the game being played at a breathless pace, flowing relentlessly from end to end, it seemed neither side was going to be able to produce that moment of quality in front of goal.

    It all changed on 68 minutes when Iron failed to clear their lines from a right wing corner and the ball eventually fell to the unmarked but experienced Jon Parkin, who flicked it home from almost on the goalline.

    Sensing fresh legs were needed Devonshire made a double substitution with Cox and James Mulley replaced by Sean Marks and Dan Sparkes who immediately combined to create a great opportunity.

    Sparkes raced away down the left and his teasing cross was almost met by the onrushing Marks and only a last ditch clearance from on his own goalline by Aarran Rancine saw the danger cleared.

    With ten minutes to go striker Charlie Strutton replaced midfielder Matt Paine as the Iron went in search of an equaliserl.

    It seemed to work as on 84 minutes Sparkes' long free-kick into the box was scrambled clear to just outside the area where Kenny Davis drove the ball slow and hard through the defence and Marks was able to get a foot to it sending the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

    But it all quickly when horribly wrong, as three minutes later the tricky Frear was given far to much room deep on the left to send a high cross over to the edge of the Iron box where Parkin managed to get a slight head on it, sending a looping header over Hamann and into the far corner of the net.

    It was a bitter blow to the Iron players having held sway for most of the game but they were to rue those earlier missed chances in a game they should have won.

    Braintree Town: Hamann; Peters, Clarima, Massey, Habergham; Mulley (Sparkes 76), Davis, Paine (Strutton 79); Cox (Marks 76), Akinola. Unused subs: Walker, Pentney.

    Attendance: 661.

    Wasteful Braintree Town are beaten at home by Forest Green Rovers

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    WITHAM Town put in a Jekyll and Hyde performance in their 3-2 defeat at Wingate & Finchley on Saturday.

    The Whites were 3-0 down at the break against the Ryman Premier promotion hopefuls but fought back bravely in the second half, before coming up short.

    Despite the defeat Witham still stay out of the relegation zone as all the bottom four also lost.

    The hosts took the lead after just seven minutes when Scott Shulton slammed in a deflected free-kick and then got a second on 20 minutes when Mark Goodman's cross hit the inside of the far post and crept in.

    Little was seen of the Witham attack as the side dominated and scored a third a minute before half-time when Rob Laney netted from close range during a scramble.

    Witham improved after the break and pulled one back on 61 minutes when Luke Callander chased a long through ball and home keeper Bobby Smith, harassed by the striker, deflected the ball into his own net.

    Lewis Godbold had headed in a second with 11 minutes to go to give them hope of a vital point. Witham were on top and although they created chances, they just could not find the equaliser. 

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    NO MORE than four players made their debut for Heybridge Swifts in their 4-3 win over Aveley on Saturday.

    Manager Cliff Akurang was appointed manager of Heybridge halfway through December and has brought in several players in the fight for survival in the Ryman North.

    One signing that made his debut on Saturday was Joe O'Cearuill comes with some pedigree having made two international caps for Republic of Ireland at the age of 20.

    Now 27-years-old the defender has been plying his trade in and around the non-league level with experience at Forest Green Rovers, Bishop's Stortford and Tooting & Mitcham United to name a few.

    Akurang also played with O'Cearuill at Barnet and the Heybridge manager seems to be using his vast amount of contacts to build his squad.

    Along with O'Cearuill, midfielder former Watford academy player Stephan Hamilton-Forbes made his debut arriving from Enfield Town.

    The 21-year-old has also had experience at Bishops Stortford whilst being on loan at Havant & Waterlooville and Harrow Borough in his time at Watford before being released in June 2013.

    Former Blackpool youth player Adeyinka Cole was given the nod his debut on the wing whilst Olalada Yusuf, a striker with trials at Norwich and Watford, started alongside Billy Hunt up front.

    Along with these four debutants were several December acquisitions that have Akurang has brought in.

    James Finchett is a 17-year-old who has been brought in on work experience from Dagenham & Redbridge whilst Moshood Olafunmishe, Emmanuel Monthe and Marcel Henry-Francis were among the first of Akurang's signings.

    With no competitive fixture lined up for Heybridge tomorrow they have arranged a friendly with Chelmsford City tomorrow for a 7.45p.m kick off.

    Adults will be able to get in for £5 whilst Concessions will get in for £3 and Under 16's are free.

    This game is subject to adverse weather and updates will be done if anything changes.

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    Chelmsford's parkrun celebrated its second anniversary in style with a fancy dress theme on Saturday as 485 runners jogged the 5km course around Central Park.

    Edward Starr of Chelmsford caught all the action in his video of the event - can you spot yourself among the joggers? 

    A national initiative to make people more active, parkrun is free of charge and takes place every week in parks around the country.

    Find out how you can take part at

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    Two people have been charged in connection with an incident where a grieving family of five were allegedly assaulted in a park in Colchester.

    A 14-year-old boy, from Colchester, has been charged with three counts of assault occasioning ABH and has been bailed to appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court on February 4.

    Janine Jackson, 27, of Hickory Avenue, Colchester, has been charged with two counts of assault by beating and bailed to appear at Colchester Magistrates Court on February 27.

    Two other people who were also on bail are currently in prison for other matters.

    The arrests relate to an incident on July 23 where a family were attacked when they were in Highwoods Country Park to perform a ceremony for their stillborn daughter, one day after she died.

    Duo charged over alleged attack on grieving family in Highwoods Country Park

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    CHELMSFORD maintained their hold at the top London Two North East with a thumping 54-20 at Norwich.

    This was a game that should have tested Chelmsford's resolve to the full, but despite missing some key personnel, especially in the second row, the visitors carried on from the previous week and put in a tremendous all round team performance.

    They turned on the style to comprehensively outplay their hosts, and in doing so scored eight tries, seven of which were converted by fly-half, Simon Hoult.

    A pleasing feature for director of coaching Eddie Gooby, was that out of the day's match squad of 18 players, three quarters of the team are from local schools, which enforces the youth policy at the club.

    He said after the game: "This was the best team performance so far this season. Over the past few weeks the forwards have been outstanding.

    "The backs took centre stage with great ball skills, hard running lines and excellent support play. Once again I had to make several changes from last week's game and to a man everyone stepped up. It's funny looking back on the Diss game, after our heavy defeat, this has brought the boys together, and week by week the determination to achieve has grown. We know we have a tough run of games coming up but we will enjoy the challenge and see where it takes us.

    "The support we had yesterday was fantastic and the boys responded in playing some great free flowing rugby."

    The win meant Chelmsford retain their two point lead over Campion who also won at the weekend. Chelmsford brought second team skipper Alex Ellis into the second row and youngster Sid Wright into the back row, with debutant, Sam Bensusan on the bench. They also welcomed back hooker, Seth Robinson, who was injured back in October, and he was on the subs bench.

    Both sides started brightly, with Chelmsford having the advantage of the breeze and Norwich having the sun in their faces.

    The opening score was made by Chelmsford after ten minutes, when flanker Josh Cavey, who had a storming game, made a break, and slipped the ball to wing, Tristian Olive. He was tackled short of the line and with the ball being recycled, Cavey went over for the try, which was converted by Simon Hoult.

    At this point, second row Nick Crouch, who had just returned to the side, following a hamstring injury, suffered a recurrence of the injury and he was replaced by Robinson. This meant Cavey went into the second row, with Robinson playing on the flank.

    Shortly afterwards Chelmsford were caught napping, when Norwich applied pressure in their 22, and from a grubber kick, a favourable bounce enabled the hosts to drop on the ball and score an unconverted try to reduce the arrears to 7-5.

    Chelmsford then increased their lead, when skipper Paul Redford, who was a dominant force throughout the game, broke from the base of the scrum. He slipped the ball to centre, Adam Cunnah, who had a clear run to the line for another converted try making it 14-5.

    Norwich had a chance to reduce the arrears, but missed a penalty opportunity from the 22 metre line. Chelmsford were then penalised and the Norwich fly-half drilled the ball into the Chelmsford 22. 

    The visitors knew they would struggle with any meaningful possession from the line-outs and with the home side securing possession from the throw in, they scored a try from a catch and drive to reduce the lead to four points.

    Chelmsford managed to score a further try eight minutes from half-time, when from a line-out the ball was fed out to Hoult, and with full-back Jamie Ash coming into the line, he was able to put wing, Jack Acorn, over for a try, converted once again by Hoult to take Chelmsford into a half-time lead of 21-10.

    Centre Adam Cunnah was replaced at the interval by debutant, Bensusan. Despite a handling error from the kick off by Chelmsford, they managed to withstand the pressure from the home side and after eight minutes, they scored the crucial fourth try through Cavey and with Hoult converting, they took a match winning lead of 28-10 and in the process, secured a bonus point.

    The visitors were now well on top and they scored two further tries in the space of four minutes, the first one from Jamie Morrish and the second from Ash, following a kick ahead from Hoult. Both were converted by Hoult to take Chelmsford into an unassailable 42-10 lead.

    Norwich restored their pride a few minutes later when from a line-out inside Chelmsford's 22, the ball rebounded back into the hands of a home player and an unconverted try was scored in the corner.

    Minutes later, Hoult made a break and with Ash on hand he slipped the ball to Bensusan, who scored a try on his debut to make the score 47-15.

    Norwich replied with a try from another catch and drive from a line-out, and to put the icing on the cake, wing Acorn went over for a converted try to bring the final score to 54-20 in Chelmsford's favour.

    Chelmsford have no game this coming weekend, and then face second-placed, Campion, at home on Saturday January 31, in what could prove to be a defining game for both sides in this exciting league campaign.

    Chelmsford RFC run in eight tries to beat Norwich

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    Police would like to trace this man in connection with an alleged theft of meat and threats made to a woman who worked in a Chelmsford shop.

    It is alleged the man went into the Tesco Express store in Waterhouse Lane at around 4.45pm on Saturday, December 6, and verbally threatened a woman member of staff. 

    It is also alleged that he took £18 worth of steak from the store and left without making an attempt to pay for it.

    Anybody who recognises the man is asked to contact PC Verity Lunn at Chelmsford 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

    Worker threatened at Tesco Express in Chelmsford and steak stolen: Do you recognise this man?

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    A teenager has appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court in connection with an incident in which a chemical was thrown over a man in Witham, leaving him with life changing injuries.

    The 15-year-old, of Mitcham, south London, pleaded not guilty today (January 19), to one count of throwing a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim or disable and one count of causing grievous bodily harm.

    Wayne Ingold, 54, was attacked as he opened his communal door to his block of flats in Bramble Road to collect post on August 8 last year.

    The former wedding photographer and celebrity chauffeur has since undergone months of painful skin grafts.

    The suspect was remanded in custody to appear for trial at Chelmsford Crown Court in April.

    An 18-year-old from Lewisham, south-east London, was also arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm in connection with the assault and is currently on police bail until February 7.

    Anyone with more information about the attack should call Essex Police at Braintree CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Boy, 15, denies throwing acid in face of Wayne Ingold

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    FOUR people were taken to hospital and an air ambulance was scrambled after a two-car crash in Braintree this morning that left one person trapped in their vehicle for over an hour.

    Paramedics were called at about 10.47am today (January 19) to the collision in Halstead Road.

    A rapid response car, two Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) vehicles, an paramedic officer, an air ambulance and three land ambulances were sent to the scene.

    Three patients were described as "walking wounded with minor injuries" by an East of England Ambulance spokesman, with two taken to Colchester General Hospital and one to Broomfield Hospital by land ambulance for further care.

    Another patient was trapped in one of the vehicles and was in the most serious condition but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

    Firefighters for Halstead and Coggeshall also rushed to the scene and cut the casualty free 12.04pm.

    The patient was taken to Braintree Hospital for further treatment.

    Air ambulance scrambled and four people taken to hospital after two-car crash in Braintree

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    Kelvedon high street is blocked in both directions after a pedestrian was hit by a van.

    St Mary's Road is partially after the accident that happened at about 5.15pm today (January 19).

    Traffic is queuing leading up to the road while the emergency services deal with the incident. 

    Kelvedon high street blocked after pedestrian hit by van

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    Essex County Council will seek to freeze council tax for the fifth financial year in a row.

    Councillors will also discuss at the next cabinet meeting the need to make £180million in savings by April 2018 while investing up to £270million in roads, schools and flood defences.

    County Hall says its proposals for the next financial year means it will be setting the lowest council tax in the eastern region.

    Deputy leader of Essex County Council, Cllr Kevin Bentley, said: "We have developed a budget that, despite the challenges we are facing, will deliver major investment in Essex benefiting families and business alike.

    "We are investing in the issues people are most concerned about. 

    "This includes creating more places in our schools, improving our road network and providing increased protection from the weather for our coastal communities. 

    "We are also looking after the most vulnerable in our communities and boosting economic growth through supporting businesses."


    Under spending plans detailed today (January 19), the council signalled its desire to invest £131 million in the county's highways and transportation network, including £4 million to support the design of and consultation on improvements on the A120 and the Chelmsford North East bypass.

    More than £79million has also been earmarked for 3,000 extra primary school places in the 2015/2016 academic year.

    Other investments proposed for this year include £32 million for transport services including bus routes, community transport services and concessionary bus passes for the elderly and disabled.

    The proposals also highlights the council needs to develop schemes saving £72 million in 2015/2016 and a total of £180 million – around £200,000 a day – by April 2018.

    Cabinet member for Finance, Cllr John Spence, added: "We have produced a budget supporting our communities, businesses and our ambitions for Essex. It is a budget that invests in long- term solutions for our county rather than simply applying quick-fix sticking plasters.

    "However, there are still challenging times ahead with austerity set to continue until at least 2020.

    "We cannot and will not shirk from the difficult decisions ahead of us and will maintain our financial disciplines to ensure we provide the support this county and its communities need."

    Essex County Council proposes council tax freeze for 2015

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    A goose which has not been able to return to its favoured pond in Writtle after being roughed up by rival birds, could have a permanent memorial built in his place.

    Residents, most notably regulars in The Wheatsheaf, have started looking ahead to the worst case scenario should Godfrey not make a full recovery after being targeted by newcomers.

    The star of children's books and self-appointed guardian of the village's picturesque pond is recuperating at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Orsett after sustaining injuries.

    The much-loved Toulouse goose, believed to be around 45, has lived at the pond for four decades and guards the ducks from his island like a drill sergeant, while frequently gate-crashing wedding photos.

    Bob Hibberd, who saved said that he had been in touch with Elizabeth Bond, an Essex sculptor, about designing and creating a bronze statue of Godfrey to stand on the pond's island.

    He said: "We thought about the statue idea but it will cost in excess of £5,000, so we might have to knock that on the head.

    "If the rest of the village feels the same way, I imagine the best thing to do would be to scatter his ashes across the water.

    "We thought about stuffing him and putting him in the museum but that would be too disrespectful."

    Plans for bronze statue of Godfrey the Goose beaten up and driven out of Writtle pond

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    CHELMSFORD Prison is not doing enough to rehabilitate offenders sent to the institution for reform, according to the latest Independent Monitoring Board's annual report.

    The prison's IMB chairman Nick Adams, 67, concluded that the loss of many experienced officers in recent years, coupled with the poor state of certain facilities, means prisoners are not properly prepared for life upon release.

    Mr Adams, of Cranleigh, Danbury, has made weekly visits to the prison for the past 12 months and reveals in his report that he is concerned for the welfare of prisoners at the Springfield Road site.

    The married father-of-two said: "The report reflects quite poorly on the prison, but our report is indicative of national prison affairs. The main concern we have is the loss of experienced officers is quite clearly having an impact on the safety of prisoners. Because of lower staff numbers, prisoners are spending more time in their cells."

    While some members of the community may feel prisoners spending time behind bars is a necessary punishment, the grandfather-of-four highlights the three chief objectives of the penal system.

    Mr Adams suggests the prison service is required to protect society, punish offenders, and rehabilitate those serving sentences.

    "Most people just care about the first two objectives but rehabilitation is just as important," he said.

    In order to combat the dwindling number of experienced officers, the prison has had to employ detachment officers from other parts of the country to ensure the prison is not overwhelmed.

    In the past three years there has been a 20 per cent reduction in officer numbers, meaning that unproductive short-term solutions are being sought to fight long-term problems.

    Mr Adams, who has been chairman of the IMB for three years, said: "Chelmsford Prison is having to plug the gaps left by those officers, with detached officers from other prisons.

    "It is a very ineffective way of dealing with the problem, because although it is providing the prison with more officers, they are not familiar with the area or with the prison."

    Ministry of Justice prisons minister Andrew Selous said: "Newly-recruited prison officers receive extensive training when they start and this continues throughout their career with the prison service. Each new starter is mentored by an experienced staff member for at least a year. Following a successful recruitment campaign, 34 new prison officers are joining Chelmsford and all will have started at the prison by April."

    There has been a prison at the current Chelmsford location since 1819 and the report also highlights certain parts of the near 200 year old building are showing severe signs of ageing.

    The prison's segregation unit, A-wing, was picked out for being in a particularly poor condition. The report, which is for the 12 months up to August last year, states that wall coverings in the showers are falling off and the cells smell of damp.

    Mr Adams said: "We don't want these guys mollycoddled, but anything which affects their well-being is our concern. Some prisoners are at risk of self-harming due to increased cell time."

    The report also laments the lack of data available to monitor reoffending, which the IMB chairman says is extremely frustrating as he sees the same faces coming in and out of prison.

    Mr Selous said: "We know that, unfortunately, there are offenders kicking around the system having racked up conviction after conviction, caught in the revolving door of reoffending.

    "This is exactly the reason why we are pressing ahead with major reforms that will put an end to thousands of prisoners being released on to the streets every year with no guidance or support."

    Cuts in Chelmsford Prison officers 'putting safety and welfare of inmates at risk'

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    A NEW website has been launched designed to give help to victims of domestic abuse across Essex.

    The site, called Victims Gateway and launched by Nick Alston, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex yesterday (January 19), aims to give direct access to support, information and advice.

    Users will be able to offers access support groups for people who have been subjected to crimes ranging from rape to anti-social behaviour by typing their postcode into the site to find out more about the support available.

    Mr Alston said: "The Essex Victims Gateway provides a postcode based service enabling victims to contact support and advice available in their area. It's been designed to enable people to rapidly find the information and expertise they need.

    "There is also a 'Leave this site' icon which is essential because there are circumstances where a person accessing the site may want to leave it quickly.

    "I hope that victims find this website useful but I also really hope they find the confidence to report crimes to police quickly."

    The website offers help to all victims, including those who have not reported a crime to police or where offences have happened in the past.

    And the site also offers a "leave this site" tab, which runs through every page and, with the touch of a button, redirects users to Google in case they need to leave the page quickly.

    Jan Dalrymple, Chief Executive of the Essex-based domestic abuse charity Safer Places, said: "I'm delighted the website has been pitched at victims whether or not they want to report a potential crime to the police. 

    "Many victims do not want to report a crime and do not know where to turn, and the Essex Victims Gateway gives access for those hidden victims to receive support from specialist agencies.

    "For example, a person whose partner is showing early signs of dementia and is becoming violent, may not want to go straight to the police. Rather they want to have a confidential conversation about the options and support available to them.

    "Sometimes, we – the specialist agencies – may support victims to go to the police and report a crime, but sometimes we can support them without needing to involve the criminal justice system.

    "Victims frequently say to Safer Places and I'm sure other organisations: 'We didn't know where to go for help!' I'm confident that the Essex Victims Gateway will help address those needs."

    The launch took place in the chamber of the Chelmsford City Council offices.

    Work to develop the website and its content, in consultation with victims and their representatives, will be ongoing.
    To visit the site go to:

    New website aims to offer help to domestic abuse victims

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    10,000 pairs of fake Nike trainers worth £250,000 have bee seized by Essex Trading Standards.

    The counterfeit footwear was discovered in a trailer from Latvia at Harwich by the UK Border Force, who then asked Essex Trading Standards to examine them.

    They were then seized by trading standards and will be destroyed.

    If the footwear had been genuine, the loss to Nike could have been as high as £800,000.

    Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council Lead for Trading Standards, said: "I am pleased that another consignment of counterfeit goods has been intercepted before reaching the public.

    "Counterfeit goods are never worth the money for consumers. 

    "There are no guarantees with counterfeit products and there are no assurances that their production meets the required safety guidelines." 

    10,000 pairs of fake Nike trainers worth £250,000 seized at Harwich

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    British Gas has cut its bills by five per cent but the treasury has demanded that energy bills must be cut further and faster because of falling wholesale prices.

    Chancellor George Osborne and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, welcomed the supplier's move to cut gas bills by an average of £37 a year but warned that it does not go far enough.

    The move by British Gas, which will benefit nearly seven million households, but does not come into effect until the end of February, followed a similar move by E.On, which last week became the first of the Big Six energy suppliers to cut its prices with a 3.5 per cent reduction in its standard gas tariff.

    Mr Alexander called on the rest of the big six companies to "quickly" start cutting their prices and made it clear that the British Gas cut had not gone far enough.

    The wholesale price of gas has fallen 24 per cent in the year, while electricity is down 8.4 per cent.

    Families would be more than £100 better off every year if the Big Six companies passed on the reductions in wholesale prices, experts have said.

    Mr Alexander told The Telegraph: "Now two of the Big Six have announced price cuts I am looking to the others to follow suit and to do so quickly.

    "And whilst any price cut is welcome, consumers will be expecting more cuts as the wholesale gas price has fallen very significantly in recent months. 

    "I am pressing every company involved to make sure that they strain every sinew to get their prices down soonest."

    And Mr Osborne said: "I've made it clear that falls in energy prices must be passed on to customers and it's good news that progress is being made. But there is further to go.

    "We need to ensure falls in wholesale prices are properly passed on to all consumers and we will continue to monitor this very closely."

    British Gas cuts bills as Government demands further price drops

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