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Woman fined £10,000 after covid protest in city centre

A woman involved in an illegal gathering in Norwich on Thursday has been given a £10,000 fixed penalty notice.

It follows a gathering on the Haymarket which started just after midday and involved more than 80 people protesting against the covid-19 prevention restrictions.

The 37-year-old, from the Norwich area, was arrested at the scene after refusing to provide her details to police. She was taken into custody at Wymondham and following enquiries later issued with the fixed penalty notice for contravening the ban on being involved in holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

In addition, a 25-year-old man from the Norwich area arrested at the scene on suspicion of common assault after allegedly coughing at a woman, has since been charged with the offence. He has been released on bail to appear at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Monday, November 23.

Three other people at the gathering were reported for the offence of organising or facilitating a gathering of more than 30 people, in breach of the Health Protection Regulations.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks, who has been leading the local police response to coronavirus, said: “As a police force, we fully appreciate how difficult the past six months have been for the county and I am pleased that the vast of majority of people have played and continue to play their part, following the guidance and legislation helping to protect Norfolk and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“However, the infection rate is now rising rapidly across the country and while in Norfolk it is not increasing as significantly as other areas, we must carry on working together to keep everyone safe. Our focus will remain on our use of the 4Es – engaging, explaining, encouraging and then enforcing when required.

“The gathering yesterday was in breach of the Health Protection Regulations and we took action to disperse the group including making two arrests. We will all have a role to play in keeping our county safe going forward and we won’t hesitate to take action if needed.

“We police by consent and we need people and businesses to work with us on this. Our approach will remain the same: engaging with people first, explaining the guidance and law and encouraging people to do the right thing. However, we will not sit back and allow people to deliberately break the law. Where we are left with no choice but to enforce, we will do so to protect our communities.

“If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to us and we will consider the most appropriate response, targeting repeat and high-risk behaviour.  We all have a personal responsibility to reduce the spread of coronavirus and ensure that police enforcement is used only as a last resort.  Reports should be made through our online reporting wherever possible.”

Christmas IS coming to the theatre

Norwich Theatre has announced a special season of festive shows for 2020, a Right Royal Christmas, which will see the Theatre Royal temporarily re-open to audiences during December.

The season will include three shows, Panto in a Pickle!, A Circus Carol and She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends, which will alternate.

After 19 years at the centre of Theatre Royal Christmases delighting family audiences, Norwich’s favourite pantomime Dame, Richard Gauntlett, will return once more and star in a brand new show for the whole family that captures lots of the traditional panto fun in a madcap adventure through six of your favourite stories, Panto in a Pickle.

Ricahrd Gauntlett is all set for Panto in a Pickle! Picture: Max Hilton.

Richard said: “The postponement of ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ this year was a huge disappointment for all involved and this opportunity to fill the ‘Panto-void’ with a new twist is an exciting and unexpected pleasure.  Be prepared for pantomime but not as we know it. And it does mean that I can do my Christmas shopping in Norwich!”

Following its sell-out success at Norwich Playhouse at Christmas 2019, Norwich Theatre’s critically acclaimed co-production with Lost in Translation Circus, A Circus Carol, will also be remounted specially for the Theatre Royal stage.

Lost in Translation Circus will be performing in A Christmas Carol. Picture: Max Hilton

Circus director Massimiliano Rossetti said: “The amazing opportunity to partner with Norwich Theatre to bring Interlude to life has been a great success. 

“The opportunity to perform in front of live audiences was a dream and I’m very honoured that we will have the opportunity to perform again – this time on the beautiful stage of the Theatre Royal with our co-production of ‘A Circus Carol’

“I’m very excited to be performing at Christmas, sharing smiles, amazement, joy and laughter with audiences during the festive season.”

Completing the season will be another new show from much-loved Norfolk comedian Karl Minns, with the return of one of his favourite Nimmo Twins comedy creations, She Go, alongside some other local characters.  She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends will be a festive look back at what a year 2020 has been here in our fair county of Norfolk.

Karl Minns favourite She Go will be looking back from under her Christmas tree. Picture: Max Hilton

Karl said: “Having performed at Interlude in the summer, I’m thrilled and privileged to have the chance to play in front of a Norfolk audience again. It’s even more exciting to be playing at the Theatre Royal.

“We’ve all missed being inside theatres and this is a huge honour and a big step forward in reclaiming our beloved spaces.  It’s been a tough year for everyone, so to end the year and go into Christmas with some joy and laughter is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, said: “Christmas is such a special and important time in the life of a theatre and I believe our audiences, for many of whom a festive trip to the theatre is a long-standing tradition, need a Christmas treat more than ever before this year.”

Whilst the full-scale re-opening of Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two will not be possible until social-distancing measures are further relaxed, this short season will be planned with current guidance in mind and both the shows and the covid-secure modifications to the Theatre Royal building have been made possible through grants and donations.

Tickets will go on sale from September 24.

Panto in a Pickle runs from December 16 to 24. Tickets are £10 to £13.50 or a family ticket is £50. 60 mins (no interval). Age 3+

A Circus Carol runs from December 16 to 23. Tickets are £10 to £17.50. Family ticket is £65. 70 mins (no interval). Age 10+

She Go Does It Under the Christmas Tree…with Friends runs from December 16 to 23 with tickets costing from £10 to £21.50. 80 minutes (no interval). Age 16+

Go Wild at summer festival

With the summer’s music events almost all cancelled, postponed or held online, there is a bit of good news for fans of live music.
Wild Fields will be bringing top talent, tasty food and the festival vibe to the Norfolk Showground in September, giving musicians a chance to shine.
Set for September 12 and 13, the festival claimes to be the perfect antidote to lockdown, with two days of live performance, the best DJs, good food and pop-up bars.
The weekend will be part of the Summertime Social season of socially distanced and socially responsible events where people can enjoy live performance and a festival vibe once more.

There are lots of events to come at Summertime Social and tickets are still available. They are mostly family friendly sessions and include some fabulous local names as well as internationally-renowned artists.

Day one of Wild Fields will feature a strong indie line-up with a dash of folk, rock, and some alternative pop.
The line-up includes Gengahr, the experimental North London alt-pop four-piece, Another Sky and the Colchester-based teen punk rock band Anorak Patch.
The day two line up will feature a new wave jazzy feel, “mixed with some neo-soul, feelgood folk and alternative ambient electronica”. The performers include some of the leading lights from London’s jazz community who have joined forces to form Kokoroko which mixes jazz vibes with an Afrobeat feel.

Also performing will be producer, composer and keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones, who merges jazz, dub, hip hop, funk and soul, and the soulful Jordan Mackampa who wows audiences with his rich vocals and enlightened song-writing.
The line-up will also feature some top East Anglian musical talent too including Norwich-based Nebula Sun, who blend West African music, jazz, soul and hip hop, and Norwich soul singer Maya Law.
Benjamin Street, of Wild Paths, said the event aims to make everyone smile post-pandemic.
He said: “2020 has been tough so far and we felt it was definitely time for some festival fun. We wanted to reclaim the end of summer and bring a weekend of live music and street food that everyone has been longing for since lockdown.”


The festival is the latest addition to the Summertime Social programme which will also feature the rescheduled Symphonic Ibiza event on September 5. Originally due to happen in mid-August and cancelled due to high winds, it will feature Sonique, Brandon Block and Alex P, and celebrate the greatest ever Ibiza tunes.

Other events as part of the month of concerts, plays and comedy include Common People: Outside, on September 4. and the Rainbow Party with Norwich Pride on Saturday, September 5 which will follow on from Symphonic Ibiza.

There are also gigs from Fabio and Grooverider, the Red Card Comedy Club and Judge Jules over the next few days.
Click here for tickets and more information about upcoming events

Weather disrupts summer shows

The wild weather over the last few days has meant a family event at the Summertime Social season at the Norfolk Showground has had to be cancelled.

Summertime Playdays, which includes a performance of Alice In Wonderland, was due to happen tomorrow (Thursday, August 27).

Co-promoter Andrew Bunn said: “We are heartbroken to let you know we have had to take the decision to cancel it due to severe weather and the high likelihood of continued high winds in the area.

“Conditions are not suitable to get the site and production ready, and the safety of attendees, performers and crew has to come first. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we will refund all tickets for it.”

The WAW Wrestling Experience, also scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until Thursday, September 10. All tickets purchased for it will be redeemable for the new date. The experience will feature a live wrestling show featuring Britain’s first family of wrestling, the Knights, who are based in Norwich, and will be followed by a screening of the movie Fighting For My Family which is based on their life-story.

Witness plea after crash

Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious collision in Hellesdon on Saturday (August 8).

It happened on the A1067 Drayton High Road at about 8.20pm involving a car and a bicycle.

A driver in a blue VW Polo travelling towards Norwich was involved in a collision with a cyclist who was also travelling in the same direction.

The cyclist, a 16-year-old girl, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for treatment.

The driver of the car, a man in his late teens, was uninjured.

The road was closed while emergency services attended and initial investigations were carried out. It was re-opened at about 3.20am.

Officers are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the collision or may have been travelling in the area around the time of the incident and may have dashcam footage which shows the manner of driving of the car or riding manner of the cyclist.

Anyone with information should contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit at Wymondham on 101 or email SCIU@norfolk.pnn.police.uk quoting incident number 523 of August 8.

Warning over rogue traders

Three residents living near Norwich have been tricked out of more than £17,000 in a week after rogue traders turned up on their doorsteps.

Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards department said that last week, householders in Hellesdon, Sprowston and Catton were visited by three men who told them that they had “seen problems” with their homes, including cracked and unsafe chimneys.

After quoting prices of several thousand pounds and completing a small amount of work, claims were then made that more issues had been found, and the price for the job increased dramatically.

At this point the fraudsters said they needed payment in full to buy materials or hire equipment. But once the money was handed over, they left the work incomplete and never returned.

Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “It is disgusting that as we are coming out of lockdown so too are the unscrupulous fraudsters trying to scam people in our communities. Last week the fraudsters struck near Norwich, but they could be moving to other areas of Norfolk so I’m urging people to be on the lookout.

“The simple message is that we should never agree to have work done by somebody who is ‘just passing’ or take their word that the work needs to be done at all.

“Our Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team recommends that we should only deal with reputable companies you have researched and chosen yourself to work on your home.”

In the recent incidents two of the three men involved are described as being in their mid-20s and are believed to be using a white Ford Transit with ladders on the roof.

If you see these cold callers in Norfolk, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101. If you feel intimidated, or are concerned for vulnerable neighbours, call 999.

Norfolk County Council Trading Standards always advise to:

NEVER deal with cold callers

NEVER agree to have work done by somebody who is ‘just passing’ or is ‘working at a neighbours’

NEVER allow a cold caller access to your home, roof or gardens even if they are offering to do tasks for a small fee or free

ALWAYS deal with reputable companies you have researched and chosen yourself and get a written quote first

Looking for a Trader you can Trust? Try a Norfolk Trusted Trader at www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader

Could your community help stop doorstep cold callers from targeting vulnerable people by becoming a No Cold Calling Zone? To find out more about the scheme or to apply visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/nccz

Mikey makes bin night special!

Everyone looks forward to bin night in one Hellesdon street, because that’s the night they might see a dinosaur or a superhero wheeling out the rubbish.

Mikey Knights started wearing fancy dress on Wednesday evenings back in April when he donned a Superman suit to take out his wheelie bin.

“It just came out of the blue,” he said. “I wore it again to clap for the carers on the Thursday and it just went from there. People have been loving it.”

During lockdown he has been brightening up this most mundane of chores – often accompanied by his four-year-old son, Freddie, who has dressed up in all kinds of outfits, including as a dinosaur and the bumble bee Transformer.

The pair have become more and more involved as time goes by, looking out ever more outlandish costumes and posting each appearance online.

“We love doing it and everyone looks forward to see what we are wearing,” said Mikey. “They stand and watch the door to see what’s coming out. Some people have even asked if I’ll do requests!”

With wife Carly behind the camera, Mikey has dressed up as all manner of characters including a gangster, cartoons, a guitar-playing Mexican, a leprechaun and a ballerina – all set to a soundtrack and posted online for others to enjoy.

And he has discovered that providing entertainment while putting out the rubbish is not just restricted to Middleton’s Lane as he has found sites dedicated to people who make bin night a special night all over the world.

“I think the most popular was Chewbacca… that got 700 likes on a site in Australia,” he said.

While Freddie’s favourite characters were the 118 runners, Mikey, a bricklayer-builder, says he has liked them all and has plans in the pipeline for a few more.

“We’ve got a baby on the way and if we manage to find enough outfits til then I’ve got one for the baby to have, too,” he said. “I might even be able to keep going until Christmas…”

Watch Mikey in action in one of his videos here!


Christmas treat will help ease disappointment

One of Europe’s most popular seasonal shows has been postponed – but while Christmas won’t be Christmas without it, the magic of the season will still be recreated to thrill visitors.

Continued uncertainty around live performances, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular has been postponed until 2021.

The Spectacular has entertained more than six million visitors of all ages from across the globe since opening its first Christmas Eve performance more than 40 years ago, becoming one of Europe’s biggest seasonal shows. The award-winning production, which would normally run from early November, employs around 360 dancers, singers, musicians, variety acts, technicians, wardrobe teams, ushers, caterers and production staff each year – and lots of work has already been put into this year’s event.

John Cushing, CEO, founder, producer and director, said: “This has been a heart-breaking time for me and my team at Thursford as it has been for so many. We have watched and waited, hoping for news and direction as to the implications for mass gatherings and live performances, which, in these uncertain times, remain unclarified at this time.

“We have spent the last few months working tirelessly towards the Christmas Spectacular show, hoping to continue our normal year’s schedule through to the autumn. However, following many hours discussing ways to achieve this, considering restrictions and safety measures, and with the concern for due care of our audience, cast and production team always being foremost in our minds, we felt that our only option was to postpone the show for this year.”

But while the Spectacular may be on pause, an enchanting new festive celebration will light up Thursford as an alternative Christmas treat.

Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light will be a magical walk-through experience for all ages running from November 19 until January 3. An all-new indoor Wonderland Trail: a maze of steam engines, fairy-tale characters and an immersive experience of light and sound including one of the UK’s biggest kinetic light displays, will lead to a four-acre Lantern Light Extravaganza: a beautiful, breath-taking outdoor installation of luminous sculptures, from a fantasy forest of jungle animals to the wilds of the North Pole.

Mr Cushing added: “Whilst we allow the cancellation of the Christmas Spectacular this year to sink in, we are delighted to welcome in the Enchanted Journey of Light as a magical festive alternative. The beautiful collection of lanterns will light up Thursford and brighten our hearts. We hope that visitors from far and wide will come and walk the Wonderland Trail with us and, in doing so, continue to support the local community, hotels, B&Bs, rental properties and hospitality venues throughout Norfolk.

“Christmas is a special time of hope, joy, sharing and caring, and after a year filled with uncertainty and loss it is more important than ever that we celebrate all that we are thankful for. We look forward to seeing Christmas Spectacular audiences return in 2021 and hope that many will also visit our Enchanted Journey of Light this year.”

Ticket holders for the 2020 Spectacular will be contacted by the bookings and reservations team or their point of purchase by mid-August 2020, offering the option of an automatic seat transfer to a new date in 2021 or to arrange refund.

Tickets for Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light will be £15 each (free for children under three), with time slots allocated from 3pm daily via the Thursford Box Office – www.thursford.com or 01328 878477.