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Just Regional sold to US firm

A successful hyperlocal publishing company has been bought by an American media group in a deal which will boost local news in Norfolk.

Just Regional, founded in 2008, produces 10 monthly magazines, covering six Norfolk towns and four Norwich suburbs. Over those 13 years the company has grown, achieving national recognition for its service and products, which have led the field of local news publications.

In 2019, it caught the eye of US company Medici Media, which made an approach and after many months of negotiations a deal has now been finalised.

The acquisition of Just Regional will be the first foray into news publications for Medici Media, which procures and distributes news content worldwide, in addition to providing film project development support for animated, specialty and feature films, with offices in Plymouth, Chicago, Las Vegas and London. Medici Media intends on moving a portion of its operations to Aylsham which is close to Norwich.

CEO of Medici Media, Timothy Mucciante said he was impressed with the company and its products, saying he had never seen anything of a similar quality in the US.

“We had been wanting to start in the newspaper business and I realised there was nothing like Just Regional in America. The magazines look really good and there’s an obvious passion for local news.”

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed negotiations, but enabled Mr Mucciante to see how the company adapted to the conditions, moving its news coverage online and – unlike many larger, less agile media companies – retaining advertisers, readers and staff as a result.

“I’m delighted with the acquisition of Just Regional and looking forward to carrying on the great work that everyone has been doing,” he said.

Just Regional founder Lee Todd said: “This is going to be a great opportunity for local news and I am very pleased to be connected with Medici Media. We have moved with the times and are looking to continue with our excellent service to local communities.”

Mr Todd will be staying at the helm of the Aylsham-based operation, which employs nine office staff and over 100 distribution staff. Tracey Bagshaw will also be continuing in her role as group editor.

Mr Todd said: “Readers and advertisers will still be dealing with the same people with the same community values we have always had. That will never change.”

The Just Regional offices in Aylsham.

Ready for your close-up?

Fancy your five minutes on the silver screen?
Well you could have your chance as a new film being shot in Sheringham is looking for extras.

Norfolk-born film director Ella Glendining will be filming her BFI-funded short film in the town next Wednesday and Thursday (September 8 and 9) and is on the look out for extras for a couple of scenes.

Would-be actors of all ages are sought to for funeral scene and those in their 20s and 30s are needed to appear at a beach party.

Ella was named among Screen International’s Screen Stars of Tomorrow in 2020 and her new project tells the story of a disabled woman returning to her sleepy seaside hometown for a friend’s funeral.

Ella said: “I grew up in Elsing, near Dereham, but spent a lot of time in Sheringham in my late teens and early 20s as one of my best friends lives there. I am interested in telling regional stories about growing up in small towns and villages as ‘other’. I am disabled and all my work is somewhat linked to the disabled experience.

Ella Glendining is shooting a film in Sheringham.

“I adore Norfolk and Sheringham and, although I live in Brighton now, I am always looking for excuses to return.
“I am very inspired by the beauty of the Norfolk coast. The film is about a new mother feeling torn between her old life and her new, trying to discover her identity as a parent, and it’s also about love.”
Extras will not be paid but Ella hopes they will enjoy the experience of being on a film set.
If you’d like to be involved you can email ellaelsing@gmail.com

Police officer admits making indecent images of children

A 26-year-old police officer from Stalham has pleaded guilty to seven offences relating to indecent images of children.

George Ince appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, August 3, where he admitted three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, three counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child and possession of an extreme pornographic image relating to incidents in May 2019, April 2020 and July 2020.

He pleaded not guilty to a further count of attempting to cause/incite the sexual exploitation of a child.

Ince was bailed to appear before Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday, August 31.

Ince is a police constable based in Great Yarmouth and has been suspended since July 2020. Misconduct proceedings will now begin following yesterday’s hearing.  

Cromer’s peerless pier show is back and flying high!

Oh, Cromer Pier show – it’s good to have you back, writes Richard Batson

After a lost summer laid waste by lockdowns, this cocktail of seaside stage tradition has returned in all its glory – with a few new twists to add to the flavour.

Animated backdrop projections add another dimension to an already multi-faceted masterpiece. And instead of two alternating shows, this year there are different guest performers every week to keep the show fresh through the whole season, which finishes on October 2.

Opening night kicked off with Tucker – a firm favourite of show fans returning with his brand of warm cheeky humour. He is a perfect foil for headliner host Phil Butler, another returnee whose talents as a comedian, magician, singer and dancer make him the perfect man to lead this traditional but modern variety show.

Show host Phil Butler. Picture: William Jarvis.

Vocalists Rob McVeigh and Marina Lawrence-Mahrra take the lead on pop and show songs including rousing numbers from the Greatest Showman and a pulsing Cuban sequence.

But the cast is most powerful when the team comes together during the big musical numbers such as Mary Poppins, Masquerade, and Les Miserables, which fill the stage with song, a talented team of dancers, stunning sets and colourful costumes adorned with feathers and sequins.

A very colourful Mary Poppins. Picture: William Jarvis.

Special mention must go to this year’s specialist act Duo Fusion UK – Connor Byrne and Tiffany Gaine – whose circus style aerial and acrobatic routines are mesmerising. The pair flew in unison over the front rows of the audience, and some of their contortions on stage drew audible gasps from the crowd.

There are no local children joining the cast this year, to lessen the covid-19 risk, and the “bubbled” stars are not doing their usual after-show mingling for the same reason, which is a shame because many feel like family friends we have known for years and enjoy catching up with. But they hope that will change as things progress.

Make sure you don’t arrive late – because the opening sequence on the projection screen taking us from a closed theatre to the current show’s revival is poignant and powerful – and a reminder of how glad we should be to have live variety back at the end of the pier.

For tickets and show details, including the line-up of guests, visit www.cromerpier.co.uk

Arrests after police break up illegal rave

Three people have been arrested and sound equipment seized after police shut down an unlicensed music event in the early hours of Sunday.

 Police were called shortly after 1am by a member of the public reporting a suspected rave at Woodbastwick. Officers found approximately 100 people in a wooded area in the early stages of an unlicensed music event.

 Police vehicles were used to block the entrances to the site to prevent further vehicles from entering, before officers went in to monitor the event, seizing generators and sound equipment were seized. The site was cleared by 5am.

 Officers have launched an investigation in order to identify the organiser(s) of the event and enquiries are ongoing.

 Three people were arrested in connection with the event:

–              One man aged in his 20s on suspicion of drug and driving offences. He has since been released on police bail.

–              One man aged in his 20s on suspicion of drug offences. He has since been released with no further action being taken against him.

–              One woman aged in her 30s on suspicion of drug and driving offences. She has since been released on police bail.

Chief Insp Kris Barnard said: “These events are not only illegal and unsafe, they also cause unnecessary damage and disruption.  Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances leading up to the event and where we can prevent, disrupt or stop a rave taking place, we will do everything within our power to do this in order to minimise the impact on local communities. We hope this robust action acts as a deterrent to anyone who may wish to organise events like these in the future.

 “I want to thank members of the public for their patience and support as we worked to bring this event to a safe closure.”

Vandals target Aylsham Football Club’s ground

Vandals have caused hundreds of pounds of damage to two dugouts at Youngs Park in Aylsham.

The wrecking spree is believed to have happened at the home of Aylsham Football Club between 2pm and 9pm on Wednesday (June 2).

Steve French, a director at Youngs Park, said fascia boards and stickers were torn off, and matting was ripped up. The home dugout was the worst affected and attempts had also be made to break the windows.

Two empty alcohol bottles – one Bacardi and the other Jagermeister – were left behind at the scene.

It is the second bout of vandalism at Youngs Park in the space of a few weeks. Bricks in the dugout area were previously kicked down.

The latest incident has been reported to police and a local officer visited the ground on Thursday morning (June 3) to investigate further.

Steve said: “We work had to raise money to invest in the club and give something back to the community, and something like this doesn’t help.”

Steve estimated the cost of the damage at between £500 and £700.

Anyone with information about the vandalism can call Norfolk police on 101.

Man jailed after fatal stabbing over £10 drug debt

A 42-year-old who killed a man in North Walsham over a £10 drug debt dispute has been jailed for nine years.

Matthew Constantinou was convicted of manslaughter on May 11, following an 11-day trial. He had originally been charged with murder, which he denied.

Thomas Moore, also 42, was stabbed once in the neck during an argument with Constantinou over the cannabis debt in October last year.

Constantinou, of Antingham Drive, North Walsham, appeared at Norwich Crown Court today where he was sentenced.

The court heard how the incident unfolded on the evening of October 2, 2020, after Mr Moore visited Constantinou’s home  with his friend, who was owed the money. Both men spoke to Constantinou’s mother, who answered door  and handed over £10 before asking them to leave.

During this time, Constantinou (pictured left) appeared, armed with a baseball bat and chased both men from the house. Constantinou chased Mr Moore on to Bacton Road where the argument happened and where the victim suffered a single stab wound to the neck.

 Neighbours alerted police to the disturbance and officers arrived on scene to find Mr Moore with a serious injury to his neck. He was given CPR by members of the public and later by officers and paramedics but was pronounced dead at the scene.

 Following the incident, Constantinou returned home where he dialled 999 said he believed he’d seriously injured someone. Officers went to his home and arrested him on suspicion of GBH, later changing it to murder.

Det Insp Lewis Craske, from Norfolk and Suffolk’s Major Investigation Team, welcomed the sentence. He said: “This incident quickly escalated into a violent attack in which a man has needlessly lost his life. These moments of violence are often short-lived but have serious long-term consequences for those involved and their families. The end result is there are no winners with the lives of people changed forever.”

Man guilty of manslaughter after £10 drug debt stabbing

A 42-year-old who killed a man in North Walsham following a dispute over a £10 drug debt has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Thomas Moore, also 42, was stabbed once in the neck during an argument with Matthew Constantinou over the cannabis debt in October last year.

Constantinou, of Antingham Drive, North Walsham, had denied murdering Moore, claiming self-defence and was today convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

During the two-week trial, the court heard how the incident unfolded on the evening of October 2, 2020. Prior to the argument, Moore had visited Constantinou’s address with his friend who was owed the money. Both men spoke to Constantinou’s mother, who answered door and handed over £10 before asking them to leave.

During this time, Constantinou appeared armed with a baseball bat and chased both men from the house. Constantinou chased Moore to Bacton Road where the argument happened, and Moore suffered a single stab wound to the neck.

Moore was given CPR by members of the public and later by police officers and paramedics but was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after midnight on October 3.

Following the incident, Constantinou returned home where he dialled 999, saying he believed he’d seriously injured someone. Officers went to his home address and arrested him on suspicion of GBH and later charged him with murder.

Det Insp Lewis Craske, from Norfolk and Suffolk’s Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a violent attack in which a man has needlessly lost his life over a £10 cannabis debt. Regardless of the catalyst for the argument, this case demonstrates that violence is not the answer. There are no winners in this case with lives on both sides affected forever.”

Constantinou was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on May 20.