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Three-week closure of town centre street

Motorists have been warned to expect disruption when an Aylsham town centre road is closed for up to three weeks to allow a new footpath to be installed.

Penfold Street will be shut between the Pump and Market Place from June 1 to allow the new path to be built.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council, which is carrying out the work, said: “The need for the footway is for safety aspects.

“Currently pedestrians are having to walk along the carriageway, therefore a footway would provide a safer way of travelling down the road for pedestrians.”

The spokesperson added that the budget for the scheme was £26,000 and the works were planned to run from June 1-21.

The county council said the diversion route for motorists would be Norwich Road, Henry Page Road and Cawston Road.

A spokesperson for Aylsham Town Council urged residents to be patient and considerate and follow the signposted diversion route.

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.

Getting on their bikes for charity

Rotary in Aylsham will be riding exercise bikes in Aylsham Market Place on Saturday, April 17 from 9am to 12 noon to raise money for Rotary International’s ‘End Polio Now’ appeal.

When Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries every year. Great progress has been made against the disease since then and, today, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 per cent, and just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A Rotary spokesman said: “The generous people of Aylsham have supported this campaign since 1988.

“Because of the present pandemic we had to cancel our event last year but we are back and we hope that you saw our incredible Purple for Polio Crocus planting earlier this year.

“We will be organising the bike ride in a slightly scaled down version in full compliance with the Covid regulations in force at the time. To maintain social distancing the riders will be in two locations behind barriers. Sadly, there will be no ‘Guess the Distance’ competition so that we can maintain social distancing.

“Please come and support us and, as usual give generously.”

RIDING HIGH – Rotary members at a previous event.

Surprise filming in Aylsham

Shoppers in Aylsham on Good Friday did a double take when they saw Boris Johnson coming out of Coxford’s Butchers. Surely the prime minister wasn’t taking a break to pick up a pound of sausages…

Closer examination soon revealed that it wasn’t him – and the film crews might also have given a clue that the town was taking a starring role in a TV production.

Filming was being carried out for This Sceptred Isle, starring Kenneth Branagh – a Sky drama about the UK’s response to the covid-19 crisis.

Branagh plays Boris Johnson, and the series looks at how the government dealt with the crisis along with how health staff and others on the frontline made the big decisions about how to respond to an unknown adversary.

On Friday, Branagh was filmed in locations around the town including the Drill Hall, the town hall, and the butcher’s shop.

Johnny Payne, who runs Coxfords along with Jason Gibbons, said it was “an honour” to have his shop in a scene and that the crew spent a couple of hours filming.

This Sceptred Isle is expected to be shown in August 2022.

Police move to allay dog theft fears

A rash of posts on social media provoking concerns about dog thieves has led to police issuing a statement to put minds at rest.

Community pages on sites such as Facebook have had lots of posts from dog walkers concerned about being targeted by thieves and apocryphal reports of attempts to take dogs by force, but police have quashed these, saying there have been no such crimes reported to them.

“We are aware of concerns and rumours circulating on social media about dogs being stolen or men in a van, including a van allegedly marked with the RSPCA logo, acting suspiciously around people out walking with their dogs.

“Please know there haven’t been any crimes recorded this week that relate to dog thefts nor have we received any reports of dogs being stolen from a property or while out walking with their owners over the last week.”

It went on to say that one person in North Walsham had reported a man in a Transit van asking questions about their dog, but no further reports had been received.

The RSPCA also moved to quash rumours that dog thieves were posing as RSPCA inspectors, and the police statement added: “The RSPCA has told us that a number of incidents circulating on social media claiming people are impersonating their inspectors do not appear to have been actual cases of people trying to pass as bogus officials.

“It’s important to know there are very few incidents whereby an RSPCA officer will approach someone in public unless they witness animal cruelty or see an animal in immediate danger. Officers will also wear RSPCA brand clothing and always carry RSPCA identification. RSPCA officers do not have power of entry or seizure unless accompanied by a police officer.”

But while they said there was no increase in threats to pets in the area, police stressed that any incident or concern – especially anyone claiming to be from the RSPCA – should be reported to them by calling 101.

“Try to give us as much detail about the person or the vehicle they were in as you can. And do not hesitate to call us on 999 if a crime is happening and you need our help.”

Chief constable set to retire

Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey has today announced he will retire in June after completing 35 years’ service with the police.

Mr Bailey, who has led the force for the last eight years, said: “I have been extremely proud to lead Norfolk Constabulary as chief constable for the last eight years.  However, after 35 years in policing, the time has now come to look to pastures new.  So, following careful consideration, I have made the decision to retire.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey

“During my tenure as chief constable, the force has faced many challenges, including the last year policing in a pandemic and I am indebted to the support given to me from a dedicated and talented team of chief officers, alongside that of our Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green.

 “I also want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my officers and staff for their hard work, commitment and dedication in policing our county and making Norfolk Constabulary a force to be truly proud of.”

Since 2014 he has held the National Police Chief’s Council portfolio for Child Protection and Abuse Investigations and has been the NPCC lead for Violence and Public Protection since 2016.

 “As the NPCC lead for child protection, violence and public protection, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a dedicated and passionate group of people, leading our service’s response to some of the biggest challenges within law enforcement today. Together, I believe we have made a real difference and immensely proud of the work we have achieved,” he said.

Festival is cancelled

This year’s Worstead Festival has been cancelled – but organisers have vowed that local charities which usually benefit will not lose out.

The event, which was due to be held over the weekend of July 24 and 25, was cancelled last year because of covid-19 restrictions and uncertainty over what will be allowed this summer means organisers have also halted this year’s.

The festival in a previous year.

“This last year has been extremely difficult for us all and we all really wanted the festival to happen,” said the Jane Bond, chairman of the trustees. “It’s unlikely that a government decision allowing the festival to proceed will be made before June 21. This would give insufficient time to complete arrangements to safely deliver the festival.

“The aim of the festival has always been to help local charities, so with that in mind the trustees have decided to grant money to local good causes instead of putting it towards organising a festival this year.”

Totally staffed by volunteers, the Worstead Festival was first held in 1966 to raise money to save the village church. It has grown into a weekend of family entertainment celebrating rural life, farming, crafts, produce and the heritage of Worstead and North Norfolk.

Roxanne’s running to make memories

Unable to take part in the annual Memory Walk in aid of the Alzhheimer’s Society, Sheringham mum Roxanne Demmen decided to organise her own sponsored event to raise much-needed funds.

“My granddad had Alzheimer’s so every year we do the Memory Walk but this year it wasn’t happening so I thought I should do something,” she said. “I am currently running 5km five times a week for five weeks – I’ve called it the 555challenge.

“After losing our wonderful granddad a few years ago to this disease, and our other granddad now facing the same diagnosis, I know all too well how much this affects families.

“Memories are so precious, and this year has hit everyone hard, but the elderly haven’t been able to stay connected and sociable which has been devastating. Time is precious and we should make memories while we can.”

Roxanne with daughters Rosa and Fearne at one of the Memory Walks. This year they will be taking part in their own event to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Roxanne, who worked at The Splash, has been joined on her runs by friends, family and well-wishers wanting to help. “It’s all about getting out and keeping active,” she said. “I’ve had people who don’t run, or don’t even jog coming along with me which is cool.”

And during the Easter holidays she will be joined by her daughters Rosa, aged nine, and seven-year-old Fearne, who will be on their bikes.

She says she is not a dedicated runner and that the regular runs are taking their toll, but in the past she has completed an ultra-marathon – a 30 mile race – so she thinks she will stay the course.

She has set up a Just Giving Page with a £200 target and she is already well on the way. Anyone wanting to give her a little push can click here