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+

Bus is back in the loop!

Residents in Sprowston are celebrating the return of the Linacre Loop bus service, which starts running today.

The First Bus 11A Pink Line had stops on Falcon Road West and Linacre Avenue for many years on the route to the Tesco Extra supermarket on Blue Boar Lane.

The route continued to the new housing development near Sprowston Manor, before returning along Wroxham Road, through the city centre and then on to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But during the lockdown period, three stops on Linacre Avenue – known locally as the Linacre Loop – were removed from the service.

A petition by local councillor Natasha Harpley and representations from fellow councillors Judy Leggett and John Ward, as well as Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, stressed the importance of the service, and Konectbus is now operating a bus covering this route – the 11B.

Ms Harpley’s petition was signed by more than 600 people and she said: “I’m so pleased that my petition caught Konectbus’s eye and that they were able to put together a service so quickly. Huge thanks to them for that and for all the expressions of support from local residents. This is a great result for Sprowston and for community campaigning. I wish them every success with this new route.”

Sprowston mayor Mr Ward said: “The loss of this bus service was something local residents felt very strongly about. We are very pleased that Konectbus have risen to the challenge and hope residents will respond by making full use of the service”.

MP Chloe Smith on the new bus serving the Linacre Loop.

The service has been scheduled to synchronise with the service from the city centre to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Jeremy Cooper, managing director of Konectbus said: “We are delighted to support the residents of the Linacre Loop, with the launch of Konectbus route 11B.

“This route will provide a lifeline for many of the local residents – whether it be to visit the local supermarkets for their daily shopping needs or access into the city centre. It is wonderful to see that buses continue to receive local political support and we encourage as many people as possible to use route 11B to ensure it remains a viable service for us to run.”

Ms Smith added: “We spoke to lots of residents who were worried about the Linacre Loop ceasing, because they can’t walk all the way to Wroxham Road bus stops for the alternative service. I’m pleased that Konect has responded to elderly residents’ needs and will run the service from today.”

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.

Heroes are rewarded

Broadland District Council held a ceremony last Friday to present certificates and flowers to the winners of their covid community heroes awards.

People were invited to nominate others for the awards which were designed to recognise those who had gone the extra mile to help others during the pandemic.

Carol Pennycook; Lorraine Saunders, of Dawn’s New Horizon; Krissie Stone and Clare Lincoln with their awards.

Among the recipients were four people and groups from Sprowston including Clare Lincoln, of the Sprowston Youth Engagement Project, who has kept activities for young people running online; Dawn’s New Horizon, a shop and organisation to help those who suffer from domestic abuse which provided food parcels for those in need; Krissie Stone, who has been cleaning up the streets and signs on her daily walk; and Carol Pennycook, of the Sprowston Coronavirus Help Group, who made sure vulnerable people were looked after and anyone who needed help had somewhere to turn.

There are others – please let us know so we can include as many as possible in the next Just Sprowston magazine.

Councillors buy washable masks for those on low incomes

With face masks becoming compulsory in many public places from today, two Broadland District Councillors will be using their unwanted allowances to make sure that people on low incomes can have reusable face coverings.

Natasha Harpley, district councillor for Sprowston Central ward said: “I was horrified to learn how expensive disposable ones are (roughly £8 for a pack of five in most supermarkets) and obviously not great for the environment either.

“There will always be the temptation for those who are struggling financially to re-use disposable masks and so I wanted to help prevent that from happening.

“So myself and fellow Sprowston Central councillor Breanne Cook have pooled our unwanted councillor allowances, as we do every month, and created a fund to support those on low incomes to be able to purchase washable cotton ones.”

Natasha and Breanne have teamed up with local business 2SENmums, who will make the masks and deliver them in Sprowston. In addition to this, 10pc of all sales will be donated to domestic abuse charity Leeway.

The fund will help anyone on a low income and will work on an honesty policy.

Natasha added: “We are trusting that only people who genuinely can’t afford to pay will use this fund and that it won’t be abused.”

To let them know you would like a mask, visit to choose your fabric and then message their Facebook page to order, quoting “Labour Masks”. The scheme is limited to those living in Sprowston and is restricted to one mask per family member.

“Your order will be directly with 2SENmums, not us – we will simply fund the cost from a set budget and we won’t even know who you are. We wanted to do it this way so people can have maximum autonomy over their order whilst still maintaining privacy.”

The pair have also bought 20 masks from another maker, which will be distributed via the Food Hub.

Face coverings are now compulsory in indoor public areas such as shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, post offices, train and bus stations and airports.

Krissie’s cleaned up…

As an early riser, Krissie Stone took her daily exercise just after 6am every morning when lockdown started.

And rather than just walk, she collected – and disposed of – any rubbish she might find along the way. She also polished up the road signs and attended to anything else she spotted that needed cleaning or tidying.

And her efforts have earned her a Broadland District Council community hero award, which she receives tomorrow.

“I love the area and have wanted to find a way to help the community for a long while,” said Krissie, who has lived in Sprowston for 25 years and brought her family up there.

And with the busy Wroxham Road enjoying rare peace and quiet, she decided it was the perfect time to do her bit.

“I am an early riser so I decided as part of my daily exercise I would, in my own way, contribute in tidying up Wroxham Road,” she said.

“Leaving the house soon after 6am most mornings I pick up litter and weed and sweep the pavements and the gutters. I wash and disinfect the bus shelters; I clean road and street signs; and sanitise the press button controls at pedestrian crossings.”

Krissie gives one of the road signs a shine up during one of her walks.

And she and her orange bucket full of cleaning products, a brush and dustpan, paint scraper and other tools soon became well-known.

“I found that once lockdown commenced people started speaking to me, saying hello, and would pass the time of day. It is so nice. Some cars (complete strangers) hoot and give me the thumbs up. Others stop and thank me for my efforts.

“I was approached by a policeman early on in lockdown and I was sure that he was going to tell me that I was contravening lockdown rules, but no – he was pleased with what I was doing and encouraged me to continue. Some of my friends think that I have got a screw loose and take the mickey out of me for this pastime of mine. But it’s all done light heartedly.”

She said she hopes that now normality has returned people will still continue to care for their community and “still find time for a smiley face and a hello or chat with others”.

Broadland District Council invited the public to nominate their Covid Community Heroes, celebrating those who went the extra mile to help others.