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

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    A German Shepherd puppy needs a new home after developing a hip joint problem at Essex Police.

    Seven-month-old Turbo is unable to go on to work as an operational police dog after contracting the ailment.

    Dog Trainer Pc Terry Collinson said: "We are very sad to be losing Turbo at Essex Police's dog unit but have been advised by a vet that he is unable to work as a general purpose police dog because his right hip socket hasn't formed properly.

    "We have spoken to the vet at great length and there is no reason that Turbo can't lead a full and happy life as a pet with regular but sensible exercise."

    Turbo was born in June 2014 to police dog Xena.

    He was one of a litter of four all given names beginning with 'T', including Tia, Tyson and Tex, who are healthy enough to begin their training in September this year.

    Turbo is currently receiving hydrotherapy treatment to help strengthen the muscle around his hip but isn't in need of any long term medication.

    Pc Collinson added: "Turbo is a lovely dog and staff at the unit have become very fond of him.

    "He's happy around people and good with other dogs. Everyone at the kennels will miss Turbo but we are keen to find him a loving home so he can lead the best life possible."

    Anyone who would like to offer Turbo a home should email Pc Collinson at:

    Can you adopt German Shepherd puppy Turbo from Essex Police?

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    After the Essex highways boss this week announced plans for a one-way system in Chelmsford, we ask readers - which road is the busiest, most congested and most at fault for clogging up the city?

    Essentially, the road you hate most.

    Rodney Bass says the county council could launch a consultation within the next couple of months asking the public which roads in the city centre should be included in his "ring and loop" system.

    Surely the system should tackle the most notorious lanes?

    POLL: Which road in Chelmsford city centre is the worst to drive on?

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    In a week which saw the closure of a Tesco Homeplus store in Chelmsford, there is more bad news for customers of the retail giant.

    Shoppers up and down the country are advised to return the supermarket's own brand of "No Added Sugar Double Concentrate Apple and Blackcurrant" after consumers complained of a "foul smell" and of feeling ill.

    Tesco has since recalled the drink.

    The error occurred after a flavour additive had been accidentally added, which posed no safety risk but had a "strong odour".

    Tesco said the additive, Dimethyl Disulphide, which had been added to the squash in error, was a common ingredient in food products.

    A spokesman said: "It is an approved additive and poses no food safety risk. However, it does have a strong odour, similar to garlic which customers are likely to find unpleasant".

    Responding to complaints on Twitter, Tesco confirmed it had recalled the product. It is no longer available to buy on its online shop.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Dimethyl Disulphide is a colourless to pale yellow liquid with an onion-like odour which is very slightly soluble in water, and soluble in alcohol and oils. 

    Tesco forced to recall 'foul smelling' Apple and Blackcurrant squash

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    Parts of Essex will wake up to icy conditions and possible tomorrow, according to the latest Met Office forecast.

    Showers forecast for this afternoon, combined with a drop in temperatures and a marked windchill, will result in sleet and possible snow across the region.

    Forecasters say the snow is unlikely to settle in large amounts, but have warned of the potential for ice tomorrow morning (January 30).

    The Essex Weather Centre also indicated the possibility of further snowfall next week.

    The Met Office chief forecaster said: "Showers during Thursday afternoon and evening are expected to fall increasingly as sleet, snow and hail.

    "This may settle in places, especially from late afternoon and more especially on high ground. 

    "Icy stretches are likely to form on untreated surfaces. The public should be aware of the risk of some travel disruption and difficult driving conditions.

    Will it snow in Essex? Met Office issues 'be aware' yellow warning for snow and ice Thursday and Friday

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    TWO knife amnesty campaigns were officially launched yesterday in north Essex, with hopes of bringing one to Chelmsford in the near future.

    The districts of Tendring and Colchester received specially-designed knife bins, given free of charge by the British Ironwork Centre, in the hope it will encourage those carrying weapons to bin their blades.

    Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said: "The amnesty will provide a means for people to dispose of weapons safely, and also raises awareness of the dangers of carrying knives.

    "I welcome its introduction, but it's essential that we continue to strive to change attitudes so that people would never consider using knives to injure another person and so would never carry a knife in the first place.

    "I remain a strong supporter of the work of Only Cowards Carry and everyone who strives to educate young people about knife crime. We need both education and enforcement."

    Following calls from the devastated friends and family of teenager Ashley Woolley, who was fatally stabbed in Oaklands Park days before Christmas, it is hoped that Chelmsford will follow suit.

    Caroline Shearer, who founded the weapons charity Only Cowards Carry after her son Jay Whiston was killed, said: "I'm delighted that all the hard work of the Only Cowards Carry team and Essex Police during the knife amnesty trial has now resulted in the introduction of knife amnesty bins in both Tendring and Colchester.

    "It's essential that we continue to do everything we can to tackle the evil of knife crime and make people aware of the consequences of carrying a knife.

    "We're hopeful that we can expand the initiative to Chelmsford and Basildon."

    Knife amnesty could come to city following fatal stabbing

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    GIRLS are being offered the same number of grammar school places in Chelmsford as boys.

    Chelmsford County High School for Girls has announced that it too will up its intake by 25 per cent from this September.

    The news comes after King Edward VI Grammar School said it would be increasing numbers due to both demand and financial reasons.

    Following this announcement, governors at the County High School decided to increase the number of spaces available from 120 to 150 girls, for those joining this September.

    Head teacher Nicole Chapman told the Chronicle: "Schools that are relatively small are being particularly challenged by reductions in funding and many grammar schools have expanded in recent years or are planning to expand in order to benefit from economies of scale.

    "The financial profile of the proposal outlines how increased pupil numbers will ensure we retain excellent teachers and how the increase in funding will contribute to the school's fixed costs."

    Of the 150 places, 120 will go to girls who gain the highest scores and live within 12.5 miles of the school.

    Nearly 900 girls sit the entrance test each year with a hope of gaining a place at the school, which is frequently in the top 10 nationally for GCSE and A-level results.

    Mrs Chapman said her entrance test data showed that the ability profile of students would not be adversely affected by the expansion.

    She added: "There are robust systems in place to ensure that every girl is tracked and monitored so that she reaches her full potential.

    "This is an exciting development for CCHS, enabling a greater number of girls to benefit from a grammar school education. We will be richer and more vibrant still with this moderate increase in students."

    The head said the governors were happy there were enough classrooms in the short term to cope with the extra pupils joining this year.

    "There are operational implications which have been considered and for which solutions have been found," she added.

    "The school is fortunate in having strong leadership at all levels, capable of implementing this decision successfully."

    Girls who sat the High School's entrance test last September will find out if they have gained a place on National Offer Day, Monday, March 2.

    King Edward VI Grammar School (KEGS) announced last week it would up its places from 120 to 150, with four fifths reserved for boys living within 12.5 miles of the school.

    Head teacher Tom Carter said: "In common with many other grammar schools in this area, we have decided to increase our intake in response to a considerable rise in demand for places at KEGS, an anticipated overall rise in demand for secondary places in this area, and the need for us to secure financial stability for the school's future."

    Chelmsford County High School for Girls to expand Year 7 intake

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    Three men have been charged in connection with the seizure of 1.3 tonnes of cannabis resin in Mayland yesterday (Wednesday, January 28).

    Danny Sharland, 41 of Highwood Close, Brentwood, Danny Williams, 41, of no fixed address, and Peter Tough, 53, of Leslie Road, Newham, East London have been charged with being concerned in the supply of cannabis after they were arrested.

    They have been remanded in police custody to appear before magistrates in Basildon tomorrow, Friday, January 29.

    A 35-year-old man from Brentwood, who was also arrested, has been released on police bail pending further enquiries until May 5.

    ​THREE men charged after discovery of one tonne cannabis haul

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    Police investigating an aggravated burglary in Chelmsford would like to identify the man in this efit.

    Three men forced their way into the house in Chelmerton Avenue at around 6.15pm last Friday (January 23).

    The suspects demanded cash from the victim and threatened him with a knife, The suspects then left the house and drove away in a black Fiesta towards Baddow Road. 

    A mobile phone was stolen, and dumped outside the house by the suspects.

    The suspect pictured was wearing a black tracksuit. The other two suspects were wearing black tracksuits and balaclavas.

    Anyone with any information is asked to contact Dc Martin Amundsen at Chelmsford CID on 101. 

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

    Balaclava-clad trio threaten victim with knife in Chelmsford

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    Four people have been arrested and a number of weapons seized following a raid of a travellers' site in Felsted today (January 29).

    The 11 search warrants that were carried out were a result of a local tip off and saw a shotgun and air weapons taken away by police for examination.

    Acting District Commander for Uttlesford, Chief Inspector Mick Couldridge, said: "The raids today were aimed at keeping the whole community safe from the risk of violent crime and theft. When the police are equipped with good information we will act robustly in all areas of the community, without fear or favour."

    Police worked with Uttlesford District Council to provide temporarily displaced residents with shelter while the search of the site was completed.

    A 17-year-old boy from Dunmow and a 38-year-old man from Wickford, were arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm. They are currently in custody.

    A 68-year-old man from Wickford was arrested on suspicion of theft and burglary. He is also currently in custody

    .A 16-year-old boy from Dunmow was arrested on suspicion of burglary and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries until tomorrow (January 30).

    Chief Insp Couldridge added: "Any one with concerns relating to violent or broader rural crimes is encouraged to provide information to the local policing team or Crimestoppers, and we will take positive, appropriate action."

    Shotgun and 'air weapons' seized at Felsted travellers' site raid,  four arrested

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    A man accused of murder allegedly made a series of threatening phone calls to his victim weeks before his death in a territorial row over drugs, a court heard.

    During one heated conversation, Luke Eva, 24, told Michael Haastrup, "I have the devil inside me", jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court were told today (January 29).

    Mr Haastrup, 24, was fatally stabbed on April 16 last year, in a flat in Cressing Road, Braintree, and died the next day.

    Jurors have previously heard how both men were involved in the drugs trade and were engaged in a long running disagreement.

    Today, Mr Haastrup's girlfriend, Elizabeth Wade, described conversations she overheard Michael have on the phone with, and about, a man called "Jay" or "Luke Evian".

    Both the defendant and Michael Haastrup were known by their street names of "Jay".

    "I could hear both ends of the conversation. There were a lot of phone calls, I heard quite a few of them and some of were quite aggressive," she told Chelmsford Crown Court.

    "Michael was quite calm. But I heard the other person was quite loud and shouting.

    "On this particular call I heard the other person say, 'you're lucky you didn't come and meet me because I have the devil inside me'."

    Miss Wade also said she knew Mr Haastrup had previously been to prison, but wanted to settle down since the birth of their son in December 2013.

    'Pushed out of business'

    James McGowan, known to his friends as "Cracks" or "Crackle", knew both Eva and Mr Haastrup for several years.

    He told the court he was aware the pair were involved in selling drugs, but had only ever seen Eva supply drugs first-hand.

    "They knew each other and were doing the same thing in the same geographical area, each selling drugs, but not as a team," said the 25-year-old.

    The court heard how a territorial row had broken out between Mr Haastrup and Eva over the quality of the Class A drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, each were supplying.

    "Michael was supplying the better quality and making more money, I think Luke felt he was going to get pushed out of business," said Mr McGowan.

    "Michael spoke to Luke a lot on the phone, he felt as if he was his therapist – always having to say 'it's not like that', to calm him down and stop him getting in rows."

    James McGowan also told the court about an incident a few weeks before the stabbing, when the defendant was allegedly conducting a drugs deal, when he out pulled a knife and threatened Mr Haastrup.

    He then described a separate occasion when Eva allegedly bought a knife in exchange for £10 to £20 worth of cannabis, then showed Mr McGowan and asked if he thought it was worth what he had paid.

    On the afternoon of April 16, Michael and James had gone to visit Colin Cornelius, who lived in the Cressing Road flat, to buy cannabis and it was here that allegedly a fight broke out between the defendant and victim that spilled out into the street.

    The trial continues.

    Murder accused Luke Eva told alleged victim 'he had the devil inside him'

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    TWENTY-five tonnes of "perfectly good" Essex potatoes are rotting in a Canary Islands landfill following a random blockade on home-grown exports.

    Roxwell farmer Chris Philpot's lorry-load was rejected by Tenerife inspectors over high soil levels and dumped last week – despite passing UK Government tests.

    "It's absolutely ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with them," said Mr Philpot, who owns 250 acres of potato fields at Boyton Hall Farm, and is just one of a handful of Essex potato farmers fearing for their future.

    "For all I know, there might be people going round the landfill picking them up and eating them."

    With emotions in the Essex farming fraternity boiling over, the Chronicle decided this week to take matters into its own hands.

    We took a 25kg sack of Mr Philpot's King Edward potatoes to Chelmsford night shelter CHESS so eight residents and four homeless people could dine on steak pies, gravy, vegetables and mashed potato.

    CHESS client support senior manager Jacqui Parker said the potatoes were clean enough to eat and that more than two-thirds of the sack remains for leftovers.

    "It's terrible they've been dumped," said Ms Parker, who said the homeless at CHESS eat potatoes about five days per week.

    "They're just potatoes. Does it matter what shape or size they are and does it matter if they're dirty?

    "If they have a bit of dirt or soil on them so what? You can just wash them."

    CHESS executive director Rob Saggs said: "Obviously all our clients and rough sleepers appreciate a hot meal, which sustains them through the night and keeps their energy levels up, so throwing away perfectly good stock is a disgrace when there are people who can't afford to eat.

    "Seeing stuff going to landfill is absolutely unbelievable.

    "We see food banks popping up left, right and centre around the country and a number of provisions for the elderly that would all appreciate free potatoes because it's one of the things that makes up an essential meal."

    The Chronicle told earlier this month how farmers believed the county's multi-million pound potato industry could collapse because the Canaries – its biggest customer – started rejecting deliveries at random last August. The county's growers send an estimated 30,000 tonnes, believed to be roughly 90 per cent of their stock, to the Spanish holiday islands each year.

    Under-secretary of state for farming, food and marine environment George Eustice is arranging a meeting between UK inspectors, Canary Islands inspectors and the Potato Council to find out what standards must be met.

    "We wonder if there's dirty work at the crossroads," said Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, which includes Roxwell.

    "Our minister is trying to broker an arrangement that arrives at a common understanding about what is acceptable and what is not. It's got to be sorted out."

    Mr Philpot said his demand has been reduced by 25 per cent every week because he is no longer sending to Tenerife, whose inspectors are proving the most problematic of the four biggest Canary Islands.

    He says DEFRA claims his exports contain 0.5 per cent soil and are therefore well below the EU's two per cent benchmark.

    "We can't afford to play Russian roulette with the Tenerife market," said Mr Philpot. "It's a nightmare."

    25 tonnes of Essex spuds rotting in Canary Islands landfill

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    CHELMSFORD City Council wants women to bike, run, walk, swim and dance their way into regular exercise with a project aimed at highlighting female participation in sport.

    WoMEn TIME wants to get 900 women into sport this year and, armed with a grant from Sports England, is set to break down the barriers that prevent women from doing exercise.

    Chelmsford City Council's women's sports and wellbeing officer Rosie Hurrell said: "As part of the funding we got, we did a survey of more than 800 women in Essex and found that the main barriers to women participating in sport were childcare and finance, so a lot of the classes we are offering are free or discounted, and we also have options like classes with buggies.

    "People are put off by image too; if you look at Sport England's This Girl Can campaign, it points out that it doesn't matter if your body wiggles when you exercise, and I think a lot of people are put off by the idea of going to the gym unless they look like a total gym bunny.

    "So what we are saying is that we're not offering competitive sports, it's friendly and there is no one competing with each other.

    "That's why we are also advertising it as 'me time', people can come and enjoy a chat and do exercise in a non-competitive way."

    Monday saw its official launch at Writtle College, with a number of free classes and activities, including a bike ride led by Richard Monk from cycling charity CTC, which runs several free weekly rides to encourage people to get active.

    "I love to get people on bikes," said Richard. "In Chelmsford we do cycle rides, training, bike fixing and so on. We have done things like cycle confidence courses and cycling is a sport that has been identified as an area where more people could be active.

    "Our first pilot WoMEn TIME cycling was a great success in the autumn. The first dozen women learnt to ride a bike over five weeks and the results were exhilarating. We are keen to support even more people cycling this spring and summer."

    And despite the chilly day, new and lapsed cyclists turned out for last Monday's bike ride.

    "This is my first attempt at doing anything like this," explained Ann Salmon, who decided to go along and try out the ride, despite not cycling for several years.

    "I picked cycling because there are so many cycleways around the city and I was thinking that it would be nice to cycle them, as I currently walk them, but I wasn't really confident enough to try it by myself.

    "I think things like this are brilliant, more people should get involved. I suppose I stopped cycling so much after I had kids, and now they cycle on their own, so I'm really doing it purely for the exercise."

    Other women who had not been cycling for a while joined the ride. Joanne Willis, who attends the weekly free classes run by CTC in the city, came along to lend her support.

    "I cycle all the time now," she said. "I go to the Thursday ride from Riverside.

    "It started as quite a small group but we've been doing it for ages now so we do 12 or 13 miles when we cycle.

    "It's much easier to cycle when you're talking to people."

    For more information about the activities WoMEn TIME offer, visit

    Chelmsford women encouraged to get 'me time' through exercise

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    "WHY did you do that to her? She was drunk, not in control of her mind. You took advantage of her!" demands a teenage girl in the audience.

    She stares angrily at the hoodie-wearing youth as he snarls back at her in derision: "I fancied her. She was coming on to me. I did nothing wrong."

    This is not the Jeremy Kyle show, but a school hall in Chelmsford where 200 youngsters, aged 13 and 14, are taking part in a hot-seat workshop with actors from an educational theatre company.

    They have just watched a play, based on real-life events, on the consequences of two 15-year-old girls sampling the contents of a drinks cabinet, rather than doing their maths homework.

    Called Last Orders, the drama shows how the more they drink, the more the evening spirals out of control. One girl ends up having underage sex, and the other is involved in a road accident, which ends her future as a promising sportswoman.

    Immediately after, fast-talking compere Josh Marriott calls the characters back on stage where they are quizzed by the student audience.

    "The great thing about this style of workshop is that every one of them is different," enthuses actor Richard Alexander, who plays the brazen 17-year-old Dan.

    "What you saw here today, with the girl getting really involved and giving me a real grilling, was the sort of reaction we're after. It shows the students have really appreciated the issues we are trying to put across."

    As well as the consequence of drinking to a person's health, the play also explores the knock-on effects on relationships and future job prospects.

    By the end of this week (January 30), 1,830 Year Nine pupils, aged 13 and 14, at secondary schools in Chelmsford will have had the chance to view the two-hour production by Solomon Theatre Company.

    Chelmsford City Council has paid just over £10,000 for the company to tour all the city's schools, thanks to a successful bid for Government cash, as it believes the message is a vital one.

    Compere Josh said: "Chelmsford council has funded this project because it wisely sees that prevention is better than cure.

    "At 13 and 14 we know for a fact that students are starting to experiment with alcohol and this is the age to show them what could happen if taken to excess."

    The Chronicle watched the show at Hylands School, where there was no shortage of students keen to ask the three characters how they felt during the disastrous evening.

    Among the questions were "What does it feel like to be drunk?" "Did you want to have sex?" "Why did you start drinking?" and "How did you feel afterwards?"

    Each question is carefully directed by Josh Marriott, the Jeremy Kyle- style host, who throws in relevant anecdotes and legal facts.

    Both the workshop and the play cleverly cover a multitude of issues that teenagers are likely to face, including the use of false IDs, the taking of indecent photographs, the posting of pictures on social networking sites and, included at Chelmsford City Council's request, the dangers of carrying a knife.

    After the show, teachers and staff at Hylands said they felt the hard-hitting messages had been effectively conveyed.

    Emily Elnaugh, 13, said: "When we were told we were having this lesson on the dangers of alcohol, I thought it would be someone standing up talking to us with a PowerPoint presentation. This was much better.

    "I like the fact the message wasn't 'don't drink', but instead, 'if or when you do drink please be aware of all the possible consequences'."

    Katy Read, 14, said: "I think I will remember a lot of what we were told today because of the way it was put across. I knew alcohol could be dangerous but did not realise how dangerous until I watched this."

    Thirteen-year-old Henry Baker added: "I did not know alcohol was a drug. It was good to be told all the legal implications of what you do. The message was 'it's your choice what you do but this is what could happen if things get out of hand'."

    Jen Fulbrook, head of drama at Hylands, said: "I have never seen the students so engaged – they were gripped for the whole two hours.

    "It's a really important message being put across in a very entertaining way, and I think this will stay with them for a long time."

    There was a similar positive response at The Sandon School.

    Amanda Trusler, director of Key Stage 3, said: "Last Orders was a fantastic, interactive way of educating our students about a wide range of risk-taking behaviours. Our Year 9 students were totally engaged by the Jeremy Kyle-style workshop and made their feelings about the behaviour of the characters absolutely clear."

    St John Payne, Moulsham High, Hylands, Sandon, Boswells, Chelmsford County High, William de Ferrers, Thriftwood, Chelmer Valley and Great Baddow students have seen the production.

    1,800 Year Nine pupils in Chelmsford get Jeremy Kyle-style warning over the perils of alcohol

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    Essex woke up to its first significant snowfall of the year this morning (January 30).

    Flurries were first seen in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Harlow from around 3am, before heading east and then south, according to the Essex Weather Centre.

    The snow is now accumulating on surfaces in Chelmsford and could cause disruption for those travelling during the rush hour. Greater Anglia and Stansted Airport are not currently reported any delays to services, although commuters are advised to leave extra time for their journeys.

    It is expected to ease off within the hour as the conditions turn milder, with a sunny day forecast for the county and highs of 5C. But any melted traces could turn to ice on the roads.

    A Met Office spokesman said: "Most areas are unlikely to see large amounts of snow but icy stretches are likely to form on untreated surfaces.

    "The public should be aware of the risk of some travel disruption and difficult driving conditions."

    What is like where you are? Post your pictures on our Facebook page or tweet them to us @EssexChronicle

    Snow falls in Essex as Met Office warns of ice on untreated roads

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    HEYBRIDGE Swifts boss Cliff Akurang believes playing Ryman North leaders Harlow Town this Saturday will bring out the best in his team.

    With last Saturday's match against Waltham Abbey called off due to the waterlogged Scraley Road pitch, the Swifts have had a two-week break since beating Aveley in a seven-goal thriller.

    This weekend they face another tough test, but the Heybridge boss believes his newly assembled team's hard work will come to the fore against the table-toppers.

    "In games like that, sometimes that's all the motivation you need and there's an old saying that sometimes you play better against top teams," said Akurang.

    "You're in a no-lose situation to a certain degree, that you're expected to lose, so the onus is on the favourites to go out and get the result.

    "But I believe these bunch of lads can go out and turn any team over in this league and that's what they'll be aiming to do on Saturday.

    "It isn't going to be easy though and we've got to be as prepared as possible to give a good account of ourselves."

    He added: "While they've got that momentum, they've got that bit of time to relax and frustrate Harlow. They'll give a good go at it and that's all I can ask to make sure they all give me 100 per cent.

    "I've already played them once with Maldon so I know what they're about and I beat them. I want to go out with the same mentality to look to win."

    The postponements have been building up for Heybridge of late to leave them a couple of games behind those around them, but Akurang believes his team know the task at hand.

    "We've kept ourselves fit and been doing our training and, as soon as you win a game, you want to get the next one straight away to keep that momentum going, but it's been unfortunate that it's affected us more than most teams," he said.

    "We've not been able to play as much but these games will come back around towards the end of the season and we've got to make the points count.

    "Every week they're coming in, getting hungrier, fitter and they're finally understanding the position that they're in that I require 100 per cent commitment and they'll get their rewards on the field."

    Heybridge Swifts boss Akurang says his side will rise to Harlow Town test

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    The A12 northbound is closed and there are severe delays on the road after a car overturned at around 7am, trapping a female passenger inside it.

    An air ambulance attended the scene along with an ambulance, rapid response vehicle and hazardous area response team.

    The woman, who is said to be in her 30s, was airlifted to Queen's Hospital in Romford at 8.46am, although she is not believed to be a major trauma casualty.

    No other vehicles are believed to have been involved.

    Drivers going north between J12, A1023 (Mountnessing) and J14, Wantz (Margaretting) have reported standstill traffic, and the delays are expected to continue for the next few hours.

    More to follow

    Overturned car causes northbound A12 to close

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    Essex Fire Service is in turmoil this week, having had to resort to 1950s-style pencils and paper to record fire alerts, after its state-of-the-art control system collapsed, according to the Fire Brigades Union.

    The collapse has seen firefighters sent to the wrong address, fire appliances listed as being 'unavailable' and the wrong appliances being sent out to emergencies.

    And in some cases, firefighters from Harlow have been sent as far away as Colchester.

    Secretary of the Essex Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Alan Chinn-Shaw said: "We are extremely concerned about these system failures in control.

    "We have over 100 examples of problems with the new system and this is inevitably resulting in delays to fire appliances arriving at fires and other emergencies.

    "This shambles is resulting in unnecessary risks to both the public and to the firefighters attending these incidents.

    "The service was warned prior to the system being brought on-line that it wasn't ready for use. Until these major problems are corrected the system is not fit for purpose."

    Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Hill, ECFRS director safer and resilient communities, responded: "After 30 years operating one system, the changeover was always going to be a huge undertaking, as it would have been for any organisation.

    "We have the added pressure of working in an emergency situation with life at risk. We have not missed a single incident or failed to mobilise to an incident since the switchover and the public should be reassured that if they dial 999 we will respond as we always have. At no point was our 999 service to the public offline.

    "The same, highly trained operators are taking our emergency calls and it is testament to their training that when the system fails, they are still able to perform what is a straightforward operation of taking a call and mobilising an appliance to it.

    "The public would expect an emergency service to have contingency arrangements in place to ensure that where there is any computer failure, we are still able to operate and keep the public safe.

    "We receive on average around 30 calls a day, of which 40 per cent are false alarms, so it would be surprising that with four control operators in the room at any one time they could not handle effectively 15 emergency situations over a 24 hour period.

    "We always anticipated some early teething problems despite the fact that exhaustive tests were carried out before the system went live, but of course some issues only came to light when used in a live environment. We are now putting significant resources into finding solutions so the system will work as well as we know it can."

    The initial problems led service managers to suggest staff were using the system wrong, describing the glitches as "minor teething problems", but the system then collapsed entirely, and staff were forced to use pencils and paper to take down details of emergencies.

    'Shambles' of new Essex Fire Service system leaves firefighters 'recording alerts with pencils and paper'

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    Schoolchildren across the county woke up with excitement this morning as overnight snowfall began settling in Essex.

    While the wintry weather has a tendency to stretch journey times and wreak havoc with travel plans, some people might like to roll back the years and go sledging with their children.

    With the hill at Hylands Park a popular destination for snow revellers, here are five retailers ready to sell you snow sleds in Chelmsford:


    For £10 you can buy an 89cm standard red sledge.

    Young families might be interest in purchasing a Snow Baby Sledge for £27.99.

    At £74.99, the more adventurous can buy a Snow Racer Sledge.

    But don't forget to sledge safely - a Snow Helmet can be bought for £34.99.


    A Delta Snow Sledge, with an accompanying rope handle, will set you back £11.99.

    While a John Deere Snow Cruiser Sledge costs £59.99.

    Sports Direct

    A standard Swordfish sledge costs £7.00 from the sports outlet.


    £25 will buy a HAMAX Sno Giant Sledge.

    But for £10 you can buy a HAMAX UFO Sledge.

    Alternatively, for £20, a Snow Scooter could be yours.

    Early Learning Centre

    At £6, a standard 79cm Sledge will do the trick.

    What is like where you are? Post your pictures on our Facebook page or tweet them to us @EssexChronicle.

    Essex snow: Places to buy sledges in Chelmsford and Essex

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    AN E-FIT of one of the suspects in a rape attack in Maldon has been released by detectives.

    The local woman, in her 20s, was walking away from Tesco at Fullbridge, near the underpass in Mill Lane, when two men dragged her into bushes, and subjected her to a terrifying sexual assault, between 5.45pm and 6.15pm, on Saturday, January 24.

    Senior investigating officer DCI Simon Werrett, said: "This happened around Saturday tea time, when the shop would have been busy, I am sure someone must have seen the men hanging around or even spoken to them.

    "It is really important that people have a close look at the e-fit image and let us know as soon as possible whether they recognise this man.

    "Equally, are you aware of anyone matching these descriptions who was acting strangely over the weekend and may have been in the Maldon area.

    "I need anyone who has any information to contact my team as soon as possible so we can catch the men responsible and get justice for this woman."

    The first suspect, who carried out the assault, and is depicted in the e-fit image, was of Asian appearance, aged between 25 and 30-years-old, is 5ft 10in to 6 ft tall, with stubble on his face.

    He wore a Superdry jacket which had a green logo.

    The second man was slightly taller and wore a black coat and hooded top with the hood up.

    Two men who had been arrested in connection with the enquiry have been released without charge.

    Anyone with information can phone Major Investigation Team Detectives on 01206 576845, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or

    Detectives release e-fit of man wanted for rape in Maldon

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    Commuters heading to and from London Liverpool Street face truncated journeys from every weekend until mid-March.

    The disruption, forced by the planned onset of engineering works on the rail line by Network Rail, will affect services from Chelmsford and Colchester.

    But what do you need to know ahead of the closures?

    1. The closures will take place from the first train services starting tomorrow (January 31). The stretch of rail affected will be between Shenfield and Colchester.

    2. If you want to go to London from Chelmsford, Colchester, Braintree, Witham and Ingatestone quite simply you will have to take a bus to Billericay (or Shenfield from Ingatestone).

    3. Buses will run four times every hour on Saturday and twice on a Sunday.

    4. Services between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria will be increased to a frequency of four times per hour. Wickford and Southminster services will run hourly.

    5.Braintree commuters will have to catch a bus to Witham, before taking ANOTHER bus from Colchester to Billericay.

    6. Journey times will be at the least, doubled as a result, with the longest, from Colchester to London Liverpool Street taking up to two hours and 12 minutes.

    7. The work is taking place in Chelmsford to improve and upgrade the overhead lines to improve reliability, in Witham to install new track and points, and in Marks Tey to install new points.

    8. More than 2km of track will be installed on the stretch of route running past Colchester, which is more than 30 years old

    9. A petition has been set up by one regular commuter, asking that prices are reduced during the shut down period.

    10. However, there will be NO changes to prices over the weekend as a result.

    11. The shutdown is likely to affect more than 90,000 weekend journeys on the London to Norwich line. An average of 115,000 are made per weekday.

    To keep up to date, follow Greater Anglia's Journey Planner

    Weekend Essex train cancellations: 11 things you need to know if you're travelling to and from Liverpool Street

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