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Go wild with TV’s Nick at Pensthorpe

TV presenter, author and naturalist Nick Baker is set to open The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust’s annual community event Wild About the Wensum on Saturday, May 12.

Intrepid explorer and natural history expert Nick, who has presented Weird Creatures (C5), The Really Wild Show (BBC One) and Springwatch Unsprung (BBC Two), will officially open the event, meet members of the public and host a bug hunt.

Wild About the Wensum, now in its 12th year, is a special one-day event held by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust with the sole focus on encouraging people of all ages, especially families who often don’t get the chance to be outdoors, to enjoy the Wensum Valley, within which Pensthorpe Natural Park is located.

This year’s theme, Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow, takes a look at the plight of the hare in the English landscape and celebrates Norfolk as one of the last strongholds for hares in Britain.

Local wildlife groups and nature charities such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Wensum Alliance and Norfolk Bee Keepers Association will be in attendance plus there will be a special trail to follow and free hands-on nature activities to try.

Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park said: “We are thrilled that Nick Baker, someone as passionate about the natural world as we are, will be joining us for our community day. Nick shares our enthusiasm for re-engaging with nature and nothing encapsulates our desire to inspire our visitors more than Wild About the Wensum. We want to encourage all generations to get outdoors and embrace the delights of nature – it’s accessible to all!”

Nick said: “Pensthorpe not only boasts a fabulous location within Norfolk’s environment-rich Wensum Valley but it is a great example of an attraction with a cause – keen to do nothing more than encourage visitors to reconnect with the outdoors. It’s an ethos which is very close to my heart and I look forward to joining them and being part of the event.”

Nick will be hosting a meet and greet in the picnic area at 10am, officially open Wild About the Wensum at 11am, run an interactive bug hunt for children at 2pm, and at 3pm will host a book signing and talk entitled How to Make a Naturalist.

As part of his day at Pensthorpe, Nick will also be invited to judge an art and photography competition, which 39 local primary and junior schools have been invited to take part in.

As the event is aimed at families and those in the local community, Pensthorpe reduce admission prices to a nominal fee of £2 per person for tickets booked online in advance, and £3 per person on the day. Under 3’s are free. Please note there will be an additional charge to access indoor play area Hootz House.

To book tickets or for more information visit pensthorpe.com.

Pictures: PAUL CARTER and STEVE ADAMS

 

Residents urged to be vigilant after spate of burglaries

Police in North Norfolk and Broadland are urging residents to be vigilant after a spate of burglaries across the area recently.

18 burglaries have been reported since 31 January 2018 with properties being targeted in Wells, Holt, Little Barningham, Morston, Little Snoring, Sheringham, Ludham, Stalham, Potter Heigham, Foulsham, Aylsham, Acle, Halvergate and Woodbastwick.

Chief Inspector Wes Hornigold said: “We are investigating a number of burglaries which have taken place across the districts during the past two months and I am appealing for anyone with information to contact police.

“In some of these cases the premises have been left insecure, therefore I would urge residents to take some time to review their home security and take some simple steps to prevent them from becoming victims of crime. Many thieves are opportunistic, so please ensure your doors and windows are locked at all times – and if you go out, leave a light or radio on to give the impression someone is home.

“Also, if you are going away for the night, please ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property and consider using timers on lights.”

“If you see any suspicious activity in your area, please contact police on 101, paying particular attention to any unfamiliar vehicles and registration numbers; however; please call 999 if you believe a crime is in progress.”
Further home security advice includes:

• Remove window keys and keep them in a safe place. However, everyone should know where the keys are kept so they can escape in an emergency
• Fit five lever mortise deadlocks to all external doors to BS3621
• Fit multi-locking systems to patio doors or install mortise security bolts with removable keys at the top and bottom of both doors
• Considering fitting a letterbox cage or restrictor which prevents burglars from putting their hands or gadgets through the letter box and trying the latches from the inside.
• Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat, burglars know all the usual hiding places
• Never leave your house or car keys in or near a door or window

How sister’s suicide ‘informed’ my work – Norman Lamb

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was the latest person to be featured on The Backstory, a local podcast looking at the stories behind the news. He talked to Suzy Coulson about mental health and his own sister’s suicide in 2015.

Norman Lamb’s interest in mental health is well-known. “We all have mental health, we’re all on a continuum,” he explains.
As care minister in the coalition government he pushed for new standards in mental health care provision and has continued to keep mental health high on the agenda.

What’s less well-known is the personal experiences that have informed his work. “Informed but not formed”, as Norman explained to Suzy Coulson of The Backstory podcast.
The interest, it’s clear, was there already. Suzy was meeting Norman to find out more about what motivates his work and why he has chosen to be open about the mental health difficulties his own family have experienced.
“We’re all ultimately vulnerable, we’re fragile human beings and adversity can strike any of us at any moment,” he said.
Norman’s son, Archie, has suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since his teens. Now a successful music manager, having launched the career of grime artist Tinchy Stryder and collaborated with Jay Z, Archie has made a success of his life but there have been some dark times in which Norman and wife Mary found themselves negotiating the mental health system in a bid to get the right support for their son
“I remember the moment he said to me, ‘Dad why am I the only person going mad?’ For a parent to hear that, that’s quite hard.”
Then, in 2015, Norman’s sister Catherine killed herself after a period of severe depression.
He said: “Our family has gone through the trauma that very many families around our country experience with the loss of a loved one through suicide.”
Before any of this happened, Norman had already launched Zero Suicide Ambition, an initiative that strives to preotect every life.
“The evidence is there for how we can save lives but we’re not giving it enough priority. There’s nothing that’s more important than saving lives. The knock-on effect of a suicide is profound so it’s a really important objective.”

To hear the full interview with Norman Lamb, subscribe to The Backstory podcast with Claire Mutimer and Suzy Coulson on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Full details can be found at thebackstorypodcast.co.uk. If you’ve got a backstory to tell, an experience that has shaped your life in some way, then Claire and Suzy would love to hear from you. Email hello@thebackstorypodcast.co.uk or call 07595 335855.

Brothers plead guilty to £17million fraud

Two brothers from Norfolk have pleaded guilty to defrauding more than 200 people out of millions of pounds.

Alan Taylor, 38, of St Stephen’s Road, Norwich, and Russell Taylor, 37, of Trunch Road, Mundesley, used their company Taylor & Taylor Associates Ltd to scam clients out of vast sums of money between 2008 and 2015.

The brothers fraudulently produced client records and misrepresented documents and persuaded their clients, who were often elderly and vulnerable, to sign them in order to gain access to their pension funds.

Without the clients’ knowledge, they then transferred the money to another company they owned, Vantage Investment Group Ltd, and placed them in a high-risk finance scheme.

It was a win-win situation for the two men – if the investments paid off they would take 20 per cent of the profits, and any losses were effectively funded by the client.

In 2015 several clients became concerned about the loss of their money and contacted Action Fraud, who passed the information on to Norfolk Police. An investigation was launched but as the scale of the fraud became apparent, the case was passed to the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

The Taylor brothers were subsequently arrested for fraud offences and today (Tuesday) they both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. On average each client lost almost half of their total pension funds.

Detective Chief Inspector Liz Fernandes, from ERSOU, said: “This was a hugely complex investigation involving a total of 239 victims, who were conned out of around £17 million in total.

“The Taylor brothers greatly abused the trust their clients had in them and invested their hard-earned money into a high-risk investment scheme akin to a roulette wheel. All this was for their own personal gain – to fund their lavish lifestyle and tastes, with the brothers splashing out on purchases such expensive cars and even a private boat.

“I’m pleased that both men have pleaded guilty, saving the victims the further trauma of having to give evidence in court. We are determined to tackle criminals such as the Taylors who think that they can use deception to help themselves to other people’s money. I hope this shows that ultimately, crime will never pay.”

Case Officer, Detective Constable Ian Webb added: “Alan and Russell Taylor defrauded their own clients of over £17 million – a staggering amount of money and a disgusting breach of trust. The Taylor brothers were relentless in obtaining access to more of their client’s pension funds and savings in order to keep their scheme operating as it was helping fund a lifestyle that they otherwise could not afford. “

The brothers have been bailed pending sentencing on the week commencing April 30.

Anamarie Coomansingh from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Alan and Russell Taylor took over their father’s business and used his client lists to target victims who trusted them to invest their money wisely.

“The scheme they chose was not a surety to increase pension pots, as the Taylors told their victims, but was similar to gambling their clients’ futures on the spin of a roulette wheel. One victim unknowingly invested £200,000 in the scheme and was left with just over half of that amount. Others had to take up part-time jobs to help them through retirement as a result of the impact on their finances.

“The CPS was able to show that the advice given by the Taylors to their victims was anything but honest and was instead designed to line their own pockets. Faced with this, the defendants entered guilty pleas.”

 

Broadland householders facing council tax rise

 

Councillors at Broadland District Council have agreed a 4.3pc council tax rise, the equivalent of an extra £4.99 per year for an average Band D property.

Earlier this month Norfolk County Council agreed a 5.99pc rise in its share of council tax and a 5.5pc budget increase has also been approved for policing in the county during 2018-2019.

Broadland also increased its share of the council tax last year, following a  seven-year freeze.

“No one wants to see a rise in council tax. However, it is important that we are able to help those most in need and continue to maintain high quality services,” said councillor Trudy Mancini-Boyle, Broadland’s portfolio holder for finance. “We have restricted our increase to £4.99 in order to achieve this, although I appreciate that residents will see a rise in other aspects of their bill.” 

The council will continue to look for other sources of income and, following the success of the Carrowbreck Meadow development, has recently secured help from central government for a new housing development in Great Plumstead through its company, Broadland Growth Ltd.

For the second year, residents will be receiving a Buy in Broadland discount voucher booklet with their council tax bills. Designed to support local business, the voucher booklet will provide residents with 96 different discounts and offers for Broadland businesses, giving them the chance to discover new places to enjoy and perhaps rediscover some old favourites.

The council tax rise will be included in bills for 2018/19 which residents will be receiving in the coming weeks.

 


 

Broads makes BBC best National Park shortlist

The Broads National Park has made the shortlist as one of the top five National Parks in the UK in a BBC Countryfile Magazine competition.

The shortlist was drawn up based on recommendations from members of the public and people are now being asked to vote for their favourites in each of 10 categories.

The magazine noted about the Broads National Park:   “Britain’s largest protected wetland is a mysterious, marvellous landscape, with a quarter of the country’s rarest wildlife.”

And the BBC’s John Craven added: “The people that I have met who are involved with the administration of the Broads are very passionate about it. They do a very good job of balancing a huge leisure industry with wildlife and natural landscape.”

National Park of the year was not the only category to include the Broads, with the Holiday Destination of the Year including a nomination for Suffolk in which the Broads are listed as a key feature for their selection and in particular the River Waveney. The Broads have also been featured in the Reader Photo of the Year, with an image of Brograve Mill titled ‘Milling Around’ by Christopher Hill (pictured).

Speaking about the nomination, Greg Munford, chairman of Broads Tourism Limited, said:

“In May 2016 all the members of Broads Tourism voted to get behind the Broads National Park brand and this accolade of being in the final five of the Countryfile magazine ratifies the decision and is testament to the great work of the businesses within Broads Tourism and also our corporate partners who have helped develop three wonderful publications promoting the area.  Along with the help of Broads Authority this has allowed us to launch the Visit the Broads website and social media presence.  We encourage all of our members to promote the link countryfile.com/awards to help us win this prestigious award.”

Voting is now open and closes on March 5. You can vote online at countryfile.com/awards

Norfolk Christmas drink/drug drive results

More than 100 people were arrested during the Norfolk Christmas drink-drive campaign with almost 1,000 people breathalysed.

The month-long campaign, launched on December 1 2017, targeted drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Patrols and roadside checks were carried out with Norfolk having a 8.55pc fail rate.

A total of 947 tests were carried out with 81 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 172 drug tests conducted 56 drivers failed.

This year saw specific time slots at Norwich Magistrates’ Courts being reserved to deal with those caught drink or drug driving. This effectively meant that offenders could lose their licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

In Norfolk:

  • Neil Grimwood, 56, from Lone Barn Road in Norwich was stopped after driving erratically. He provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was arrested on Saturday December 2 and at court on Friday December 5 where he was disqualified for 26 months and ordered to pay a £3,200 fine.
  • Martin Banfield, 46, from King Street, Norwich was stopped after being seen driving in an erratic manner in Neatishead. He was stopped and provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was disqualified for 28 months, ordered to undertake rehabilitation activity and given an electronic tag and curfew between 6pm and 6am for one month.
  • Peter Thomas, 44, from The Archway, Lowestoft was breathalysed following an RTC involving a brick wall. He provided a positive breath test and was arrested on Wednesday  December 13. He appeared at court the next day and was disqualified for three years and ordered to pay £400.
  • Zilvians Neveckas, 34, from Havelock Road, Great Yarmouth was arrested on South Quay in Great Yarmouth on Wednesday December 27 after a member of public reported his driving. He failed a breath test and was more than three times over the legal limit. He also did not have insurance and was driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. He was seen at court on Friday 29 and disqualified for four years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for two years.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the joint Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said: “It’s always disappointing to see that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs, although it is a minority.

“Dozens of people caught during the campaign would have started 2018 with a minimum 12 to 18 month driving ban, which will have massive implications on their professional and social lives.

“We target drink-drivers all year round and my plea to motorists considering getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs is don’t – it’s simply not worth the risk.”

During the 2016 campaign 1,320 tests were carried out with 85 drivers failing.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, said: “It is clear some drivers still don’t grasp the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and unacceptable and a selfish thing to do. .

“It is just not worth the risk and should not be tolerated by the community. We all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe. Do yourself a favour, do everyone else a favour and don’t drive under the influence of drink or drugs and don’t let your friends or family do so.”

 

One-off chance to cycle un-opened NDR

For one day only, cyclists are being invited to explore the westernmost sections of the A1270 Norwich Northern Distributor Road before they are opened to traffic.

The new dual carriageway is nearing completion between the A1067 Fakenham Road and the Drayton Lane roundabout, and these stretches will be open to cyclists from 10am to 4pm on Sunday  October 29 as part of the Norfolk Walking and Cycling Festival. These sections of road, and Drayton Lane to A140 Cromer Road, are expected to be opened to traffic in November, provided good progress is maintained on the major A1270/A140 junction.

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “We are very pleased to give local people a chance to see the road before it’s open to general traffic, and to explore the new cycle-ways and links to Marriott’s Way and communities such as Horsford and Thorpe Marriott.

“This will be a one-off opportunity to ride on a traffic-free main carriageway, but maintaining and improving permanent cycle links is an essential part of the project. Once the whole NDR is finished, it will still be possible to use new and existing paths and quiet lanes to get from Fakenham Road to Postwick without setting foot or bicycle wheel on the road itself.”

Volunteers from main contractor Balfour Beatty, and from Norfolk County Council’s NDR and  ‘Pushing Ahead’  teams will be joined by others to provide supervision at key locations, including the Fir Covert Road and Reepham Road roundabouts, where cyclists will have to crossing live traffic.

John Birchall, NDR public liaison officer, said there had been many requests to run or cycle on the main carriageway before it opens to vehicles. “The 29th is primarily a family cycling event, and explorers will be able to decide for themselves how much of the three miles of dual carriageway or connected paths they ride. We are aiming to focus on runners when the last sections of the route, north of Postwick, are nearing completion next spring.”

Access on and off the NDR itself will be at the Fakenham Road, Fir Covert Road, Reepham Road and Drayton Lane roundabouts, but people coming from further afield will be able to park at the site compound off New Drayton Lane (NR10 3AN). Marriott’s Way also connects to the new cycle paths along the NDR, but is less suitable for road bikes. A leaflet and plan can be downloaded from the Pushing Ahead website.

 Photo: Pashley