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

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    IT'S that time of year again when chickenpox rears its spotty head - and cases have been reported all over Chelmsford and Essex. But as parents do you know the facts? Chickenpox outbreaks almost always occur in the winter and spring months, particularly between March and May. This year is no exception, nurseries and schools all over the county are seeing cases of chickenpox – which is a mild, but highly contagious illness. Chickenpox, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is most common in the under fives, therefore nurseries and reception classes are usually the most affected. It spreads rapidly among groups of children who have a lot of close contact, and among siblings it's virtually impossible to avoid the spread. Around 90% of people who have not had chickenpox will contract it when they come it not contact with a contagious person. A child will usually come down with chickenpox approximately 10-14 days after contact with an infected person, although the window can be between seven and 21 days.Symptoms of chickenpox include: Before the rash appears – your child may feel generally unwell including feeling sick, fever, aches and pains, headache, stomach ache and loss of appetite. The rash - a spotty, blistering red rash develops all over the body, but mainly on the chest and belly, face, scalp and behind the ears. The spots start as little red spots, then develop into fluid-filled blisters. After a few days the blisters crust over and eventually fall off. These spots can be very itchy and sometimes painful. Once the rash starts, new waves of spots can appear for three to five days. So your child's spots will be at various stages of blistering and drying out.When is my child contagious? Unfortunately, a child with chickenpox is most infectious one to two days before the rash appears – so that's usually before you know they've got it. But they are also contagious as soon as the spots appear, and continue to be contagious until every blister has crusted over. This is usually five to six days after the first spot appeared. So parents should keep their children off school for up to 10-14 days, to make sure all the blisters have crusted over. Make sure you keep away from pregnant women, newborn babies and those with lowered immune systems.How to treat your child: Painkillers (paracetamol is best) – for fever and aches and pains Camomile creams/lotions – to relieve the itching Trim their nails – to prevent scratching and avoid the blisters getting infected Drinks – lots of fluids to keep them hydrated and simple foods that won't hurt their mouthWhen to seek medical advice: Rarely there are complications. Watch out for redness and sorenesss around the spots as this could mean the spots are infected. Contact your doctor as antibiotics could be needed. If your child develops chest pain, has difficulty breathing or shows signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet nappies and drowsiness, then contact your doctor at once as they could need medicine or hospital treatment.

    First there was scarlet fever, now chickenpox is sweeping Essex


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    Ninety five per cent of the funds invested by the district council in Icelandic Banks are set to be recovered.

    Speaking at a full council meeting on Tuesday (February 17) Cllr John Mckee confirmed that a further £73,878 had been recovered from money placed in the Icelandic Glitnir Bank between 2007 and 2008.

    During this time the council invested £5million into three Icelandic banks, Landsbanki, Glitnir and Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander.

    The council had already seen £821,000 of the original £1million Glitnir investment recovered following the country's banking collapse, with the remaining money paid in Icelandic Krona locked into an account due to international currency transfer restrictions.

    However following a currency auction held by the Central Bank of Iceland the Council along with others has been able to repatriate some of the funds from Icelandic Krona to Sterling.

    Cllr John McKee, deputy cabinet member for performance and efficiency at Braintree District Council, said: "As one of a number of authorities affected by the Icelandic Bank crisis we have been working closely with our intermediaries in the UK and Iceland to recover the investment made into the three banks.

    "This is an ongoing and long process, and there is still work to do but we have now recovered £4,628,668 from our £5million investment into the three banks, with a further £111,000 still held in an Icelandic account and over £30,000 still expected from Kaupthing Singer and Friedlanderf bank."

    Braintree District Council recoups nearly all funds lost in Icelandic bank collapse


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    A four month-old foal is fighting for his life in a critical condition after he was found dying by the side of the road.

    The RSPCA was called after Gizmo, a tiny piebald cob, was found without his mother near Ridgewell Caravan Park in Yeldham Road, Ridgewell, Halstead, in an emaciated, extremely poor state on Tuesday (February 17).

    Along with the police and a vet, a vet nurse and a yard manager from nearby Catley Cross Veterinary Clinic, attended to rescue the stricken animal.

    He was taken into care and he is now fighting for his life.

    RSPCA inspector Sarah Elmy said: "Poor Gizmo was just abandoned without his mum and left to die by the side of the road.

    "He was so weak he was just collapsed and couldn't - and still can't - stand, and you can see every bone in his body, he's so thin. We had to carry him to the van on a rug.

    "He was so keen to live, though, bless him. Even though he was lying flat out, he was trying to reach forward and crawl himself along the ground to get to grass. As soon as we propped him up he was nibbling, trying to eat from our hand. It was so heartbreaking.

    "I just really hope he pulls through. He's certainly trying his best."

    As well as being extremely underweight, he was riddled with lice, hypothermic, dehydrated and has since been found to have pneumonia.

    The RSPCA say a short Facebook appeal has received an overwhelming response from the public, who have all rung the centre to help.

    Veterinary surgeon Carolyn Wise said: "It is touch and go at the moment - Gizmo is walking a fine line.

    "But he is eating and trying to live so we have everything crossed he will pull through - he is such a lovely foal. He has melted all our hearts.

    "It seems we are not the only ones as we have been overwhelmed by people phoning us wanting to help, after we put up a short appeal on our Facebook page.

    "We are so grateful for such a heartwarming response - it just shows you how much people care."

    The animal charity say Gizmo's story is not uncommon as the country is currently in the grip of a horse crisis with the RSPCA and other horse welfare charities struggling to cope with the numbers of abandoned, neglected and abused horses.

    The RSPCA alone has more than 600 horses in its care and receives about 500 complaints relating to horse welfare every week.

    For those wanting to donate towards Gizmo's care should call 0300 123 0346 or visit https://www.justgiving.com/gizmothefoal/

    Who left this poor foal to starve to death on the roadside in Halstead?


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    THE competition to decide who will run the services on the London to Norwich railway line from October 2016 starts today (February 19).

    The current East Anglia franchise is operated by Abellio Greater Anglia who was awarded a two-year contract from 5 February 2012. In 2014, a further two-year Direct Award was negotiated with Abellio Greater Anglia until 16 October 2016.

    Today, the Department for Transport (DfT) published procurement documents, marking the first step in the search for the next operator to run rail services in the region.

    Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "East Anglia has a thriving economy and I want it to be served by the best train services possible. Giving the region train services fit for the 21st century is vital to connecting people with jobs and businesses with customers. Good transport is central to our long-term economic plan.

    "Today marks the beginning of the process to find an operator who can meet the demand for better, faster services and make a real difference to people's experience on the railways in East Anglia."

    Bidders will be asked to consider achieving the recommendations from the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, including reducing London-Norwich journey times to 90 minutes.

    Companies interested in running the franchise will be shortlisted following a pre-qualification stage. They will then be invited to submit detailed proposals later in the year. The next operator will take over managing the franchise in October 2016.

    The East Anglia rail franchise prospectus outlines what potential bidders will need to consider when they start developing their detailed bids later in the year. These include:

    • -shorter journey times, especially for services into London;
    • -a service that meets the needs of commuters and leisure passengers in the region;
    • -easier connections with London's transport network at stations like Liverpool Street and Stratford;
    • -a more reliable service with fewer delays and cancellations;
    • -improved customer service;
    • -better passenger communication during disruptions;
    • -improved integration with local transport along the routes; and
    • -investment in and around stations.

    The procurement documents are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/rail-franchising#east-anglia-rail-franchise

    London to Norwich railway line franchise tender opens


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    Work to improve the A12 at Old London Road near Marks Tey northbound will start this weekend, meaning the slip road will be closed.

    The Highways Agency will begin resurfacing the A12 service road carriageway at Marks Tey as well as carrying out drainage, kerb works, renewing road markings and installing parking restriction starting on Friday (February 20). 

    As a result the Old London service road alongside the A12 will close for the whole weekend. 

    The drainage and kerb work will start on Friday (February 20 ) at 8am before the main resurfacing works start on Saturday (February 21 ). 

    The resurfacing works and road markings will take place between midday and 9pm and will finish on Sunday (February 22 ) night.

    Highways Agency project sponsor Jennie Fraser, said: "This work will provide a safer and smoother road surface along this section of the A12. 

    "This work has to take place over a weekend due to the depth of carriageway which needs to be resurfaced. If the work was carried out overnight the tarmac would not have sufficient time to cool before the road reopened. 

    "We will also be able to carry out noisy operations during the day which will cause less disruption to residents.

    "As the A12 Service Road, adjacent to the A12 carriageway, will be closed to traffic, we have to minimise disruption to drivers we have arranged for alternative parking for residents to be available at Marks Tey Parish Hall. 

    "Pedestrian access will still be available. We have worked closely with local residents and key stakeholders about the work."

    The work is dependent on suitable weather conditions, and dates may be subject to change.

    A12 Old London Road slip road will close for engineering work this weekend


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    A TIMETABLE spanning a decade for the A12's £1.6 billion upgrade has been released by the Minister of State for Transport.

    John Hayes MP says work to transform the infamous trunk road into motorway size, widening it to three lanes between the M25 and Colchester, will take place between 2015 and 2026.

    In response to a letter from Chelmsford MP Simon Burns, he said it will be widened between Junction 19 at Boreham and the A120 junction at Marks Tey between 2015 and 2021.

    The stretch from the M25 junction in Brentwood to Chelmsford is scheduled to be widened to three lanes between 2021 and 2026.

    Mr Burns told the Chronicle: "The A12 is a congested major road that needs to be enlarged and upgraded.

    "When the work is complete over the next decade it will have a significant impact on improving traffic flow and management on one of the main feeder roads into the hinterland of East Anglia."

    As part of the £15 billion plan to upgrade roads across the country, as announced in the budget speeches of December last year, the A12 Brook Street roundabout in Brentwood will also be upgraded with dedicated left-turn lanes. The project will also set aside between £50 million and £100 million for more CCTV cameras and updated electronic message signs between the M25 and Ipswich.

    Critics branded last December's announcement a pre-election bribe, but Mr Burns said: "I have lobbied for this for a long time before, and was thrilled when the announcement was made."

    Green Party leader at Essex County Council and Braintree highways panel member Cllr James Abbott has remained sceptical, and has lambasted the Government for not consulting.

    Mr Abbott said: "This has been announced without local consultation with councils, local or parish councils. We do want to see work completed, we're in unanimous agreement that vital safety works need to take place. But local concern is work on the Rivenhall section of the road doesn't look possible without homes and businesses being demolished."

    The Highways Agency says it will publish a more detailed "snapshot" of its delivery plan by the end of March.

    A12 road works bosses unveil decade long schedule for £1.6 billion revamp


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    THE deputy chief constable of Essex Police has promised to "put things right" after the force admitted it may have failed 59 child abuse victims.

    The force last week announced it had referred 30 investigations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission – triggering the biggest inquiry into Essex Police in recent history.

    Since then Derek Benson, chief constable Stephen Kavanagh's right-hand man, has laid out a detailed action plan and admitted safeguarding failures will be a recurring theme in the IPCC probe.

    Two children's charities, police and crime commissioner Nick Alston and IPCC commissioner Mary Cunneen, meanwhile, have expressed their concern.

    When asked how the public can still have faith in Essex Police, Mr Benson stressed the force maintains the highest standards in the "overwhelming majority of cases".

    "In any given year there are literally hundreds of thousands of interactions between members of the public and Essex Police officers, police staff, PCSOs and special constables," he told the Chronicle. "In the overwhelming majority of those, we provide an efficient and effective service.

    "We set ourselves the highest of standards, but when we come up short, when we make mistakes, we are accountable and we take responsibility and that's exactly what we have done here.

    "When this was brought to our attention in November we took a number of immediate actions including referral to the IPCC so that there was that essential independent oversight. We will put things right."

    A detective chief superintendent in charge of public protection, hired in September, raised concerns in November over investigations carried out by the north Essex child abuse investigation team (CAIT) – which covers the Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon, Uttlesford, Tendring and Colchester districts.

    "This was a situation that was identified from within Essex Police and as soon as it was brought to our attention we took control of the situation and we are dealing with it," added Mr Benson.

    The force "immediately" referred the 30 cases to the IPCC, which concern 17 historic allegations, dating back to the 1960s, and 13 current cases – all reported between March 2011 and November 2014.

    Twenty-eight cases will be investigated by Norfolk Constabulary, under IPCC supervision, while two will be probed solely by the IPCC.

    All the allegations concern physical and sexual abuse, as serious as rape, committed against children between a "very young" age and 18.

    Eleven officers have been placed on restricted duties and one suspended.

    When pressed for more details Mr Benson remained tight-lipped, saying he did not want to risk identifying victims.

    He did say, however, that no child has died and that the police have not missed an opportunity to convict as a result of the alleged failings.

    "I am confident that we are not seeing similar investigations in the south of Essex and I'm not aware of any other cases that would involve other police forces," said Mr Benson.

    This IPCC probe comes within the same four-month period the watchdog launched an investigation into Essex Police's response to reports that a 28-year-old was walking along the A12 at night before he was fatally hit by a car, and into its handling of the death of a 68-year-old following a noise dispute.

    Mr Benson, the deputy since December 2006, however said: "I'm not aware of another IPCC investigation that has involved as many as 30 referrals."

    Last week Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex Police Federation which represents officers, told the Chronicle "a lot of this" will come down to organisation failings and a lack of resources.

    Mr Benson added: "These are difficult and complex investigations and it's fair to say that child abuse investigations are an absolute priority as it should be for Essex Police, but they sit alongside other priorities, including sexual offences and missing persons investigations.

    "That is not an exhaustive list, but it illustrates the competing priorities I have in an effort to balance the priorities put to us."

    As part of the force's recovery plan, it has drafted in an "experienced" retired detective to review live investigations in north Essex, assigned new officers to the cases which have caused concern, implemented a "revised policy" to ensure investigations are reviewed on a consistent basis, and introduced a system to ensure child abuse investigation officers are not "stretched too far".

    It has also invited children's charities Barnardo's, the Children's Society and the NSPCC to form a "Child Abuse Advisory Group" – two of which have responded to the Chronicle for comment – to give advice during the inquiry.

    Mr Benson added: "Victims have to be at the heart of what we do. I have written to those victims explaining what is happening and apologised for any hurt or distress the content in that letter may cause."

    Independent Police Complaints Commission to put Essex Police under spotlight over child abuse scandal


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    HAVING had a less than satisfying result last week, the Greens seemed set for more heartache on Saturday as they travelled to play the league leaders.

    However, the Chelmsford side that stepped on to the field at St Albans had not been seen since before Christmas.

    They played from the first whistle with a quiet fury that would see the home side undone.

    This was the side that had dominated the table for the first half of the season, the side that felt they could always win.

    But for the first ten minutes Chelmsford unleashed a withering assault across the pitch, winning the ball in every 50-50, shutting down every attack and rolling forward in numbers.

    Within five minutes, the Greens secured their first corner. The ball came crisply out to the top, where Pablo Fanger, who was a massive presence in defence, flicked it towards the bottom-left corner, only for the keeper to pull off a fantastic save.

    Unfortunately for the overstretched shot-stopper, the ball was still in play and, as he regained his balance, Vas Veerapalan snuck the ball past the shell-shocked defence.

    Already 1-0 down after five minutes, St Albans couldn't believe it. They had set out to increase their gap at the top of the table and were becoming ever more aware that this was not to be.

    Chelmsford, instead of sitting back after scoring as they have done in previous weeks, pressed forward. And, within four minutes of the first goal, the Greens scored again.

    Sam Rayner wobbled his way into the D, passing left to Steve Harrison, who managed to locate Veerapalan on the back post and he redirected the ball out of the air for his second goal.

    Ten minutes of utter devastation for St Albans only served to lend further strength to the Greens' resolve.

    For the rest of the game they dominated, soaking up pressure at the back and countering with long penetrating aerials to the rapid forward line.

    Indeed, such was the desperation of the St Albans side that, with 15 minutes to go, while Chelmsford were down to ten men after an overly passionate tackle resulted in a yellow card, they substituted their keeper for another outfield player in the hope of scoring.

    Even with a two-player advantage St Albans could not break down Chelmsford's phalanx-like defence.

    Chelmsford are next in action on Saturday, February 28, when they host Blueharts.

    Chelmsford Hockey Club men topple leaders St Albans


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    CHELMSFORD misjudged the early pace in this challenging local derby and the goals they conceded in the opening stages proved to be decisive, despite some excellent hockey later in the game.

    Ipswich took the initiative from the start and on their first attack found the net. Just two minutes later another open-play move took their lead to 2-0 and Chelmsford had to stay focused to get a grip on the game.

    This they readily did but after a quarter of an hour a penalty flick awarded to Ipswich was converted, despite Chelmsford keeper Lynsey Warren getting a hand on the ball.

    Chelmsford responded with better organisation and structure and worked back into the game but had to settle for a 3-0 deficit at half-time.

    Coming out determined to control the match in the second period, Chelmsford concentrated on playing their game and creating flowing hockey.

    Early on in the half, a fine shot on goal by Jess Bryan was well saved and the attacking play was clearly motivating the whole team.

    A couple of minutes later, Tori Clark powered into the D and forced another good save from the Ipswich keeper, but this time Collette Ager pounced on the loose ball to claw a goal back.

    Chelmsford continued to play well with the experienced Becky Budd and Hayley Heggie influential.

    Youngsters Kate Robinson and Ellie Smith disrupted the Ipswich defence and midway through the second half Chelmsford were awarded a couple of short corners, but without addition to the scoreline.

    With the cushion of a 3-1 lead, Ipswich defended in numbers. Late in the game Chelmsford won another two short corners, but they came to nothing.

    This Saturday Chelmsford are at home to Harleston Magpies, push-back is at 2pm.

    Chelmsford ladies punished for sluggish start by Ipswich


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    CHELMSFORD Chieftains' form is definitely Jekyll and Hyde at present.

    They dropped important league points on Saturday with a 4-0 shutout defeat by Wightlink Raiders.

    But 24 hours later they were back on form at the Riverside, defeating Streatham Redskins 6-2 to remain top of the league.

    Saturday's trip to the Isle of Wight was a day to forget for the team as they just couldn't find their form.

    The close confines of the small ice pad and the close attention of the Wightlink players combined to thwart the normal passing game of the Chieftains.

    But on Sunday the fans turned out in force for this important match-up against the Redskins. The Chieftains had not been on home ice for a fortnight and that was when they suffered a 6-3 defeat by Streatham. So it was an early chance for revenge.

    And with the two sides going head-to-head in the cup semi-final at the end of the month, it would be a significant boost to the confidence of the winners.

    Chieftains looked in determined mood early on and were rewarded with three minutes on the clock.

    Darren Brown and Cameron Bartlett stormed the opposition net, their speed leaving the chasing Redskins in their wake.

    With only one defender between them and the goal, Brown passed to the unmarked Bartlett, who made no mistake.

    Before the DJ had time to announce the goal details it was 2-0, just seconds after the restart. Danny Hammond's accurate pass found Czech forward Martin Piecha and his fierce shot gave netminder Will Sanderson little chance.

    The alarm bells started ringing for the visitors and they began to make a few sorties into the Chieftains defensive zone.

    But the Chieftains defence and netminder Euan King held firm.

    The period ended 2-0 with the Chieftains enjoying the freedom of the Riverside ice pad, much larger than the one they encountered 24 hours previously.

    Four minutes after the restart it was again Bartlett on the scoresheet. He received Brown's pass and despite the close attention of two defenders, he forced his way through and beat Sanderson high into the roof of the net.

    But at 27min 23sec the visitors made it 3-1 with a powerplay strike from Steven Fisher.

    The man advantage paid off as Chieftains defenceman Ryan Giles watched from the sin-bin after receiving a two-minute penalty for tripping.

    It was then the visitors' turn to fall foul of the rules, Jack Tarczycki and Adam Mahoney both called for tripping in quick succession.

    This gave Chieftains a five-on-three opportunity, which they took. Julian Smith's shot from the blue line was saved, but the rebound was poked into an open net by Darren Brown from close range to make it 4-1.

    Alex Staples and Sean Barry were then both called for delaying the game as their misjudged clearance attempts cleared the Plexiglass and struck the net surround.

    The calls came within ten seconds of each other, giving the Redskins almost two minutes with a two-man advantage, but the Chieftains defence kept them at bay until they returned to their full complement of players.

    Before the end of the period, the Redskins pulled another goal back with just two seconds remaining, Callum Best giving his team a glimmer of a hope in the final 20 minutes.

    However, within the first three minutes of the third, that hope had been extinguished as both Piecha and Hammond struck to make it 6-2 and secure a well-deserved two points.

    This leaves the Chieftains level on points with Invicta Dynamos, but still with three games in hand and with eight games remaining.

    This weekend the Chieftains take the long trip to Cardiff on Saturday, before returning to Riverside on Sunday for the visit by Milton Keynes Thunder (6.30pm face-off).

    Chelmsford Chieftains blow hot and cold on the ice rink


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    One lane is closed on the A120 westbound between Braintree and Great Dunmow after a wheel came loose from a white transit van.

    The blockage on the trunk road has seen traffic flow slower than usual, which may affect rush hour commuters.

    The Highways Agency is currently dealing with removing the vehicle from the road.

    If you have any pictures, or know more about the incident, get in touch with us via Twitter @EssexChronicle or visit our Facebook page. 

    Traffic Update: Blockage on the A120  between Braintree and Great Dunmow


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    With February half term nearly over for another year, schoolchildren across Essex will be asking parents when the next holiday is.

    This year Good Friday is on April 3, Easter Sunday is on April 5 and Easter Monday falls on April 6.

    The county's schools will break up for the Easter holidays on Friday, March 27 for two weeks before returning on Monday, April 13.

    In Britain, the Christian festival will always fall between March 22 and April 25, but it does not always remain the same date.

    This is because Easter and the holidays related to it are movable feasts and they do not fall on the same date every year.

    The date of Easter is determined by the lunar calendar and it usually falls on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after March 21. The following day, Easter Monday, is a Bank Holiday in the UK.

    Easter is a Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having happened three days after his crucifixion on Good Friday.

    Easter: All you need to know about this year's Christian festival


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    A retired couple from East Hanningfield are celebrating after discovering on Friday last week (February 13)  they had won £1million and a first class trip around the world in last month's EuroMillions Mega Friday draw.

    David and Ann Bell were one of 10 players who won £1m on Friday, January 30 and have opted for a Singapore-Sydney-New York trip with their three daughters.

    When David, 74, went to pick up a paper from the Post Office in The Tye, East Hanningfield,  he took a few tickets that had accumulated on the side and that he knew had some small wins.

    He said: "I tend to put the tickets on the side and check them sporadically. I knew I had a few small wins and said as much to the shop assistant when I popped into the Post Office on Friday 13th. 

    "Imagine my surprise when, after she'd confirmed a £7.20 win, she handed a ticket back and said: 'you need to ring Camelot, there's a major prize on this one!' 

    "There were a few other people in there at the time and we all whooped with joy, still not knowing the magnitude of the win. 

    "Then I set off home, ticket in hand, as my daughters joked, not dissimilar to Charlie with his golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

    David and his wife of 54 years, Ann, 76, are no strangers to international travel, as David used to work in the oil industry and spent many years working overseas. 

    For every EuroMillions line played, UK players automatically receive a UK Millionaire Maker code printed on their ticket, and it was one of the 10 winning codes from the Mega Friday draw on 30 January that David had matched.

    Once the win had been confirmed with Camelot, wife Ann set about calling theirdaughters to share the good news. David said:

    "It was a surreal moment. I thought we'd won a couple of thousand and suddenly we discovered that we are one million better off and about to embark on a wonderful family trip. 

    "Ann rang the girls to share the good news but two of our daughters mistook their mother's tears of joy for sadness, with one believing I had passed away. Thankfully we could confirm that it was good news."

    They have no plans to leave the village that has been home more than 45 years, or dash out to buy flash new cars but there may be a few more dinners out with the family to celebrate.

    In the couple's Chelmsford postcode area alone there have been 680 individual National Lottery grants made to date.

    East Hanningfield couple win £1million on lottery


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    FANS of Chelmsford's once famous nightclub Dukes are on tenterhooks after talk of a reunion emerged.

    A Dukes Genesis facebook page and Twitter account, which has more than 1,500 followers, has been posting cryptic messages about a reunion, but with scant detail.

    One video post simply asks "Where will you be" before listing April 4 as the earmarked date for what is being billed as "The official Dukes Reunion Party".

    The latest post today, says: "Reunion location and details to be released soon!"

    It is unclear exactly who is behind the reunion at this stage, but it has already caused a stir on social media.

    Mikey Woolnough posted: "Dukes Genesis, don't mess with my emotions, is a come back on? Can't tease like this...."

    In 1982, nightclub boss Lou Manzi and leisure magnate Robert Bartella turned the former Lion and Lamb pub in Duke Street into one of the county's top nightspots.

    The new owner of the site, Fitzpatrick New Homes, wants to regenerate the area with 93 luxury apartments, shops, businesses and even a farmer's market.

    Would you go to a Dukes reunion? We want you to send us your pictures from the nightclub over the years, but we've also pulled together 101 pictures from the nightclub's heydey. Are you pictured? Click here to find out.

    Is the closed Dukes nightclub in Chelmsford about to host a reunion party?


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    A CHIP SHOP owner will take on one of the UK's largest parking enforcement firms next week at the Court of Appeal in London in a case that could see millions of parking fines repaid.

    Barry Beavis, who lives in Crocus Way, Springfield, is challenging an earlier county court decision that ruled a parking ticket issued in the city by enforcer Parking Eye must stand.

    The 48-year-old received the ticket on April 15, 2013 when he parked at Riverside Retail Park in Chelmsford.

    He told the Chronicle: "It started when I overstayed in a free car park for 56 minutes.

    "I didn't know I had overstayed until a speculative invoice arrived through the post.

    "I call it that because they are not tickets, they are invoices dressed up as tickets."

    Mr Beavis says he sought advice online on how to deal with the £85 fine.

    He was advised it was not enforceable under civil law and to ignore it.

    Mr Beavis says he was told the charge was outside the law because private parking companies have no legal standing to bring a claim if they are not landowner.

    By law, private companies such as Parking Eye are not allowed to issue fines but can charge motorists who overstay the allowed time in a car park, as a breach of contact claim.

    These charges are only meant to cover the loss suffered by the company and should not be a penalty.

    Mr Beavis continued: "The charges made by the private parking company are a penalty.

    "They are to deter people from overstaying.

    "Any first year law student will tell you that penalties are unenforceable.

    "There are many district judges around the UK that have decided exactly this in similar cases."

    Based on certain clauses in the British Parking Association's Code of Practice and case law examples, Mr Beavis ignored the parking charge.

    He said: "The thing that has angered me so much about the private parking companies is the way they bully people into paying their 'fines'.

    "They dress up their invoices deliberately to resemble real tickets, which they are not.

    "They'll send letters from debt collection agencies and are quite happy to issue court papers - all to get people to pay charges that are outside the law."

    Eventually, Mr Beavis says he was sent a court summons to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates Court and informed the fine had been increased to £150.

    Due to the complexity of the case, it was adjourned and transferred to Cambridge County Court, where Mr Beavis appeared on May 19, 2014.

    Having heard similar cases, Judge Moloney decided to combine Mr Beavis' case with another and use it as a test case.

    He eventually ruled that the parking fee was enforceable, saying: "I conclude that in these two cases Parking Eye was entitled to and did contract with the motorists as principal, not as agent for the landowner, and is lawfully entitled to sue them for the charges in its own name and keep the proceeds for itself."

    Judge Moloney did, however, agree the £85 fine was not an accurate pre-estimate of any losses.

    He said: "The £85 charge is in no sense a pre-estimate of any loss actually sustained by Parking Eye as a result of over-staying, especially given that Parking Eye does not charge a fee for the first two hours and is not therefore losing anything if newcomers are prevented from occupying the space.

    "It is well established at common law that a contractual provision for payment of a specified sum in the event of breach will be unenforceable and void if it is in the nature of a penalty rather than a genuine pre-estimate of loss."

    This was the first time a consumer had been at the wrong end of a commercial justification case.

    Mr Beavis explained: "I was in a difficult position. I had lost the test case because the judge had found commercial justification.

    "Now I have to carry on because the ramification for all consumers everywhere is so great."

    Mr Beavis appealed his case and will appear on Monday at the Court of Appeal in London.

    He said: "I am hoping that the judges will find in favour of common sense and parking companies will be forced to operate with moral conviction."

    A Parking Eye spokeswoman said: "Parking Eye cannot comment on the outcome of a yet unheard case but remains confident in its position."

    Barry Beavis to challenge Parking Eye fine at Court of Appeal in case that could change British law


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    by Maurice Richmond

    WITHAM-based Crittall Windows has been given an award by one of the world's largest online platforms for home renovation and design.

    The leading steel windows provider, based on Freebournes Road, received the "Best of Houzz" design award, and can now be added to Houzz's database of trusted home building, renovation and design industry professionals.

    John Pyatt,Crittall's managing director, said:"We're delighted Crittall Windows has been recognised among Houzz "Best Of" professionals,as judged by its community of homeowners and design enthusiasts actively renovating and decorating their homes."

    The award winners receive a Best of Houzz 2015 badge on their profiles, helping the website's users learn more about Crittall's popularity and satisfaction rating.

    In addition to the Houzz award, Crittall's had a number of products featured on Channel 4's Restoration Man, which was aired Wednesday January 21.

    Witham window firm wins coverted online award for home renovation and design


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    A drug dealer has been jailed for 23 years today for the murder of a rival dealer in Braintree. 

    Luke Eva, 25, of Avondale Road, Leigh on Sea, was found guilty of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court earlier this week of killing Michael Haastrup at a flat in Cressing Road, Braintree after a fight broke out between the pair and another man on April 16 last year.

    He was jailed for 23 years for the murder charge, but due to time spent on remand will serve just over 22 years.

    Eva also received an 18-month sentence for possessing a knife, which will run concurrently.

    Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hall, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, led the investigation into the murder. 

    Speaking after the sentencing, he said: "Luke Eva went to the flat that night armed with a knife.

    "His actions had fatal consequences and he will be paying the price for those actions. 

    "He took away a young man's life and he will serve many years in prison. 

    "This sentence will not bring Michael back, but will at least give his family and friends some solace that justice has been served.

    He added: "This case illustrates the deadly impact that drugs and knife crime can have on families, societies and the local community.

    "When sentencing Eva His Honour Judge Charles Gratwicke, described Michael's murder as a "savage and brutal killing". 

    He said: "You showed no remorse at the time or during the trial. You are a callous, dangerous and ruthless individual."

    Luke Eva gets 23 year prison term for Braintree murder of Michael Haastrup


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    Essex Police has referred another eight child abuse investigations to the police watchdog on top of 30 already being examined. The force announced last week that it had identified problems in the handling of 30 probes concerning allegations made by 59 victims between March 2011 and November 2014. But chief constable Stephen Kavanagh today said eight more problem investigations have been passed on to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). An IPCC spokesman said today: "Since the announcement last week, we have received a further eight referrals from Essex Police related to the handling of child abuse investigations by their north Child Abuse Investigations Team (CAIT). "These referrals are currently being assessed by our assessment unit." Eleven officers have already been placed on restricted duties, and one more suspended, over the alleged failings.

    Eight more Essex Police child abuse cases referred to IPCC


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    By Catherine Johnson

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the highly-anticipated V Festival and the line-up announcement is imminent.

    Organisers are keeping their lips firmly sealed about the anniversary event, dragging out the suspense for festival-goers.

    Facebook and Twitter users have been talking about who they think will be performing and the most popular guesses include Nicki Minaj, Lethal Bizzle and John Newman.

    To see who festival experts believe are signed up to play, click here.

    But the official line up for the weekend-long event on August 22 and 23 will not be announced until a special event at London's celebrity nightclub Mahiki on March 2 at 6pm.

    As is traditional for V Festival, there are simultaneous events at Hylands Park, Chelmsford, and Weston Park, Staffordshire.

    Last year, Justin Timberlake and The Killers headlined the event, with other performances from Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Lily Allen, Rudimental and Kaiser Chiefs.

    Regular tickets will go on sale on March 6 whilst Virgin Media customers can purchase earlybird tickets on March 4 from 10am.

    When will V Festival line-up for Hylands Park, Chelmsford, be announced?


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    By Catherine Johnson

    FESTIVAL experts efestivals.co.uk say Calvin Harris and Kasabian are the likely headliners at this year's V Festival.

    As Chelmford's biggest event of the year draws closer, the other acts being strongly linked to perform include Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams, Essex band The Prodigy, Bruno Mars and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

    But organisers are keeping their lips firmly sealed about the anniversary event, dragging out the suspense for festival-goers.

    The event on August 22 and 23 usually attracts 190,000 people over both days and tickets sell out in a matter of hours.

    Yet for the first time in more than a decade in 2014, some 10,000 tickets went unsold, leaving many fans calling for a shake-up of the event that has become a huge pop festival, moving away from its Britpop roots.

    The official line up for the weekend-long event on 22 and 23 August will be announced on 2 March at 6pm.

    Last year, Justin Timberlake and The Killers headlined the event, with other performances from Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Lily Allen, Rudimental and Kaiser Chiefs.

    Regular tickets will go on sale on March 6 whilst Virgin Media customers can purchase earlybird tickets on March 4 from 10am.

    Tickets will be available from www.vfestival.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

    Who is rumoured to be playing V Festival 2015?


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