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  1. Updates for Friday, 31 March 2017
  2. Children's services 'improving' but there's work to be done
  3. UK's arrival of RAF stealth jet takes step forward
  4. Funds to help save rare species
  5. More time to question man in connection with city centre offences
  6. College retains 'good' rating
  7. City resume play-off push at Aston Villa

Live Reporting

By Caroline Kingdon

All times stated are UK

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Jonathan Kodjia celebrates his goal for Villa v Norwich

Jonathan Kodjia's brace gives Aston Villa a win over 10-man Norwich City at Villa Park.

Read more

Our live coverage across the day

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

That's all from the Norfolk Live team - for today, for the week and for the month.

Scroll down to see the snippets of news we've brought you today... but here's a quick look at the main stories:

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you at 08:00 on Monday.

And good luck to Simon Clark, who's running around the coast of mainland Britain in an anti-clockwise direction raising money for the Ecologia Youth Trust. He's about to enter Norfolk...

View more on twitter

A dry night, with sunshine and showers tomorrow

Julie Reinger

BBC Look East weather

Tonight will be mostly dry across the BBC East region, with clear spells as temperatures drop to 7C (45F).

It's a mixed bag of weather for Saturday. There'll be sunny spells and the first of those April showers, some heavy with hail and thunder.

Temperatures could reach 15C (59F).

BBC Weather has more details for where you live.

Weather graphic for Saturday 05:00

Waveney Words audio news service chooses listener to take on role of chairman for the first time

Diss Express

An audio news service which covers the Waveney Valley has chosen one of its listeners to take on the role of chairman for the first time. 

Waveney Words, a "talking newspaper" which provides news for the blind , unanimously elected Roydon resident Audrey Moskowitz, after committee members realised they had never had a listener in the lead role.

Audrey Moskowitz sitting at table with a man
Diss Express

Body found in city river

The body of a woman has been found in water near to New Mills Yard in Norwich.

Police and fire officers carried out a search of the river this morning and found the body at 11:00.

Formal identification of the body is yet to take place, but Norfolk Police say the woman is believed to be Sarah "Topsy" Gardner. 

Officers searching the river

The 60-year-old was last seen at her home address on Sprowston Road in the early hours of Saturday, 18 March.

Investigations are continuing, by the death is not currently being treated as suspicious.

Minister keen to avoid press in Norwich

Andrew Sinclair

BBC Look East political correspondent

There were bizarre scenes outside a Norwich care complex this afternoon as the health secretary paid a visit, but went to great lengths to avoid the press. 

Jeremy Hunt was smuggled in through a back door at the Meadows retirement village in Bowthorpe and at the end of the visit he was driven away at speed. No reason has been given for his apparent shyness...

The Meadows is a new complex of 92 apartments designed for people with dementia. It is something you might have expected the health secretary to want to talk about. 

The county council would not allow journalists to follow the visit, citing election "purdah" rules which ban campaigning on council premises during election periods. 

However, photographers were told they could wait outside to film Mr Hunt's arrival. But he clearly had other ideas.

We briefly saw him in the main reception area and he was also seen on the roof looking out over the complex.

Health Secretary spotted during his visit to Norwich
Jeremy Hunt (right) spotted at Meadows retirement village
View more on twitter

The Department of Health said Mr Hunt was on a political visit, the Conservative Party hasn't made any comment.

I'm told that the health secretary was impressed at what he saw and said that he wants to see more such retirement villages. 

UK's arrival of RAF stealth jet takes step forward

The arrival in Norfolk of the RAF's new F-35 Lightning II has taken a step forward.

US company Lockheed Martin has been awarded a £80m contract by the Ministry of Defence/US Department of Defense to deliver the initial training, engineering, maintenance and logistics support for the RAF's fleet of the fast jets over a three year period.

It's subcontracted £40m worth of the work to BAE Systems. Together the two companies will form a team of more than 100 skilled technicians at RAF Marham, providing engineering and technical expertise, routine maintenance, air and ground crew training. 

Work is already under way at the west Norfolk airbase for the arrival of 617 Squadron, which will fly the UK's initial operational F-35 Lightning II jets from 2018.

F-35 jet
Lockheed Martin

In  April last year , Lockheed Martin was awarded a multi-million pound contract to deliver an aircraft maintenance and training centre at RAF Marham.

Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon made today's announcement during a press conference with his US counterpart James Mattis.

Nothing demonstrates the strength of our relationship better than our joint work on the most advanced combat aircraft in the world – the F-35 Lightning II. The additional investment at RAF Marham will ensure that we have a formidable fighting force that, at a time of growing danger, will help us work with our US partners to promote international peace and security.”

Sir Michael FallonDefence Secretary

Funds to help save rare species

Breckland is getting nearly £500,000 to try and protect rare species which are in danger of dying out.

The "Back from the Brink" project has been awarded £4.6m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The landscape of the area is unusual because of its climate and geology, and has the lowest rainfall in the country. 

With its mix of chalk and sandy soils, and history of human habitation, it's led to the creation of unique habitats such as grass heath and inland sand dunes.

Stone curlew adult near nest and eggs

Karen Kramer is the development officer behind the three-year project, which will help 16 rare species, including invertebrates, reptiles and birds.

All the species we're looking at are ones that are predicted potentially to go extinct by 2020. We're looking at things which are on the brink of being lost - stone curlew [pictured] and woodlark are two people might recognise - and we have some really unique and special beetles, one of them is called the wormwood moonshiner."

Karen KramerBack from the Brink

When tackles go wrong...


Just how did those legs end up there? Find out with our top 10 magic moments from last weekend's FA People's Cup semi-finals.

For more FA People's Cup action, watch our semi-final highlights programme,  available on the iPlayer from 06:00 BST on Saturday morning, 1 April, and on the Red Button at 13:50 BST and repeated throughout the weekend.

Top marks for primary school

It's 10 out of 10 for pupils at a north Norfolk school.

Aldborough Primary , near Aylsham, has achieved 100% in its key stage 2 reading tests, putting it in the top 1% of schools nationally.

Tina Casburn, with three pupils and teacher Courtenay Caston

The school has received a big tick from education minister, Nick Gibb. He sent a letter to head teacher Tina Casburn, praising the school for its high standards.

The University of East Anglia regularly sends education students to the school to see how it teaches reading, and other schools from across the county have also gone to learn about its unusual approach.

We don’t use reading schemes, we don’t focus too much on phonics... it flies against most conventional thinking but, believe it or not, if you give a child decent books, and nurture their ability to really understand them, they actually enjoy reading.”

Tina CasburnHead teacher

High hopes for Morello Racing

Chris Goreham

BBC Radio Norfolk sport

Norwich-based  Morello Racing begin their season at Donington this weekend as one of the favourites to take the Superstock 1000 title. 

The series follows the British Superbike Championship around the UK. They've signed former Superbike rider Danny Buchan this year as well as retaining Fraser Rogers.

Danny Buchan and Fraser Rogers
Morello Racing

Team owner Steve Buckingham said: "You've got major amounts of pedigree there, pre-season testing has gone very well." 

Semi-final challenge for Canaries youngsters

Chris Goreham

BBC Radio Norfolk sport

Norwich City Under 23's play Sunderland at Carrow Road this evening in the semi-final of the Premier League International Cup

The winners will play FC Porto at home in the final. 

Richard Money
Getty Images

Norwich City's academy director Richard Money is hoping the game will attract a big crowd. 

"We've shown that this is a really good competition and the young boys are really worth coming to watch." Money said. 

Norwich City: Pre-match press conference

Norwich City go to Aston Villa tomorrow in the Championship, with the final eight games of the season coming up over the next five weeks.

Alan Irvine told the pre-match conference he's in charge up to and including the Reading game on 8 April, and then it'll be reassessed.

He also has an update on midfielder Wes Hoolahan:

View more on twitter

Norwich City resume play-off push at Aston Villa

Chris Goreham

BBC Radio Norfolk sport

Norwich City go to Aston Villa tomorrow in The Championship

With eight matches to play the Canaries are five points adrift of the play-offs and many supporters gave up any hope of a top six finish some time ago. 

But it's worth remembering that in 2002, when City reached the play-off final in Cardiff, they were six points adrift at the same stage. 

Craig Fleming
Getty Images

Craig Fleming was a member of that team and he joined us on last night's edition of The Scrimmage  on BBC Radio Norfolk

"They're right in the mix, I think. It's a two-game swing, if the teams above them lose two games and they win two, that's it, they're in the box seat," said Fleming. 

Sunny spells and maybe showers later

It's been a mixed bag of weather across the county this morning, as seen in this selection of photos from our BBC Weather Watchers .

The cloud's expected to break up this afternoon, bringing sunny spells, but also the chance of a shower.

Not quite as warm as yesterday, with temperatures peaking at 17C (63F).

Early morning sky over North Sea at Gorleston
A field of rape coming in to bloom in North Runcton
Dark clouds over a playing field

College retains 'good' rating

A four-day inspection by Ofsted inspectors has led to Norwich City College being rated "good" for overall effectiveness.

It was ranked "outstanding" for its provision for students with high needs.

The report noted the quality of teaching, learning and assessment was good, with the majority of teachers provided good feedback.

But it also found that not enough learners improve in English and maths skills, and too few of those studying A levels make the progress needed to achieve higher grades.

Norwich City College

Nearly  7,000 students attend the college , and it's the largest provider of apprenticeships in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Principal Corrienne Peasgood says the report recognises the way its industry-standard facilities and teaching staff help students to realise their career aspirations.

'Job at risk' claims union

A union is claiming that up to 80 jobs could be at risk at Norfolk County Council's children's services department. 

It's alleged that staff were called into a briefing earlier this week in which they were told dozens of jobs could be at risk.

Jonathan Dunning is the branch secretary of Unison and he says it's come as a shock to his members.

"This seems to have been a bolt from the blue," he said

"There was no anticipation such cuts were coming, there's been no dialogue with Unison and the first staff were told about it was at a meeting they have with their managers."

County Hall, with jet aircraft on display outside

The council's managing director Wendy Thomson says the cuts are not in the area of care that Ofsted is looking at.

In a statement, Norfolk County Council says it needs to make £4m of cuts, and they're drawing up changes to their education services. 

They can't say how many redundancies will be necessary at this stage.

The Broads - a National Park or not?

A sign to welcome visitors to the "Broads National Park" was unveiled at Beccles railway station earlier, by Defra minister Lord Gardiner.

But is Britain's largest protected wetland an actual National Park? Well, not quite...

  • To protect the interests of navigation, the Broads was given an "equivalent status" to that of other National Parks in the UK, although it's covered by separate legislation because the Broads Authority has different powers relating to its waterways
  • In January 2015, Broads Authority members voted to brand the waterways of Norfolk and Suffolk as a "National Park" to bring in more visitors.

The Broads cover an area of 303 sq km, and is home to more than a quarter of the UK's rarest wildlife.

The lakes are man-made, dug out for peat to provide fuel during medieval times. Over the centuries, these filled in to become the Broads that we recognise today.

A windmill on the Norfolk Broads

First of many signs welcoming visitors to Broads National Park

The Defra minister Lord Gardiner has unveiled the first Broads National Park sign.

View more on twitter

The Broads Authority plans to install a network of signs welcoming people to the park, in villages, towns and at other key locations.

It'll work with local authorities and rail companies to identify suitable sites.

No kidding... goats move into summer residence

Now that the weather's turned finer, a herd of Bagot billies have taken up residence in their spring and summer home on Cromer's cliffs.  

The eight-strong herd have spent the recent months clearing land in the Happy Valley area.

Eight goats feeding in a trough

The goats were brought in by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) last year as a cheaper - and natural - way of clearing the land of overgrown vegetation.

Six Bagot billies standing in undergrowth

The Bagots were very popular with visitors, says Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett, and did a "fabulous job" at managing the habitat.

But the goat herd will expand... another eight Bagots from Cumbria will be joining them in May.

A Bagot billy goat

It's excellent there'll be an addition to the herd... an extra attraction for our visitors and also an extended area which will be naturally-managed by these brilliant undergrowth-clearing machines."

Angie Fitch-Tillett North Norfolk District Council

City centre attacks: More time to question suspect

Police say they've been given more time to question a 22-year-old man in connection with a string of offences in Norwich yesterday.

The attacks on three women and two robberies all happened between 04:30 and 07:30.

Officers were first called to Ten Bell Court shortly after 06:30, to reports a woman had been assaulted and raped. 

Another woman has reported being sexually assaulted by a man two hours before, on Riverside Road.

A third woman was physically assaulted in St Stephens underpass, and two men were robbed, but uninjured.

Police are appealing for witnesses to any of the incidents. 

'No rush' to replace interim director of children's services

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Matt Dunkley has recently taken up the post of interim director of Norfolk's children's services department following the resignation of former head Michael Rosen.

The county counci's managing director Wendy Thompson says he's doing a good job, and they're in no rush to find a replacement.

"Matt has given confidence to the partners that we are absolutely dependent on to make good children's services... I don't think it's a question of interim or not, it's a question or the experience and skill with which he's approaching it."

Image showing the legs of two children playing on swings

The latest interim report from Ofsted follows a two-day visit at the beginning of March. 

The  last full inspection  was in 2015.

Darts: A hollow victory for Suffolk's Wright

Brenner Woolley

BBC Radio Suffolk sport

Mendham darts player Peter Wright was handed a 7-0 victory in the Premier League last night after his opponent Kim Huybrechts withdrew from the event.

Peter Wright
Getty Images

The Belgian, who was due to be eliminated from the competition after this round, has returned home to be with his mother who is terminally ill.

Speaking on stage Wright said: "All our thoughts are with Kim and his family." 

The 46-year-old UK Open champion remains second in the table, behind world number one Michael van Gerwen, who hammered Dave Chisnall 7-1.

Children's services 'improving' but there's still work to be done

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Norfolk's children's services department is making improvements, according to an interim report from Ofsted.

But there's still work to be done.

The service, which has been dogged by poor performance issues , was rated "inadequate" 18 months ago. The latest judgement from Ofsted is an interim report, so it wouldn't have changed the inspectorate's rating.

Blurred image of children in a playground

There are a lot of positives in the report including praise for changes in structure and management. Ofsted says morale has improved and staff are moving in the right direction. 

But overall it's still not providing a good or consistent enough service.   

Weather: Mostly bright and just the outside chance of a shower

Elizabeth Rizzini

BBC Look East weather

It will be a very mild start to the day, with any early brightness soon clouding over.

Through the afternoon the cloud will break up to reveal some good spells of sunshine and just the outside chance of a shower.

It will be a little less warm than yesterday, but temperatures could still reach 17C (63F).

Here's my full forecast...

You can find more details on the BBC Weather website .

Welcome to Friday's Norfolk Live

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Good morning Norfolk and thanks for joining us for Norfolk Live.

Today we'll be looking at the latest interim report from Osted on Norfolk's children's services - there's  been improvements, but there's still work to be done.

Was yesterday's warm weather a one-off wonder? Elizabeth Rizzini's forecast follows shortly.

Severe accident: A47 Norfolk both ways

BBC News Travel

A47 Norfolk both ways severe accident, between A17 and B198.

A47 Norfolk - A47 blocked in both directions between Pullover Roundabout in King's Lynn and the B198 junction in Walton Highway, because of a multi-vehicle accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Our live coverage today

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

That's all from the Norfolk Live team today... unless a major story breaks our next scheduled coverage will resume at 08:00 tomorrow.

Here's a quick look at some of the stories we've brought you today:

Scroll down for more on these, plus our other news bites.

Whatever you're doing, we hope you have a good evening.

Hollywood comes to Norwich

Paul Moseley

BBC Radio Norfolk

It's been confirmed that shooting will take place in Norwich next week for a major new film. 

"Fighting With My Family" is about WWE wrestler Paige (pictured in black) and her family, who are from Norwich.

          Paige, wearing black top, shorts, tights and boots in the ring in Germany
Getty Images

It's being produced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and directed by Stephen Merchant. 

The City Council's been told filming will take place on Monday and Tuesday - but the locations are "top secret".

What's your tipple?

Maybe you like to end your day with a G & T?

If so, you'll be pleased to know that a dry gin distilled in our "fine city" has been named the World's Best London Dry.

Produced by Bullards Spirits at the Ten Bells Pub , the Norwich Dry Gin beat off nine other gins from around the world to scoop the award.

It's the only gin distillery in the county, and co-founder Russell Evans says the award was "a huge shock", but also a "huge pat on the back." 

Distiller Peter Smith
Bullards Spirits

Our distiller Peter Smith (pictured) is one of the youngest distillers in the UK and has so many innovative ideas and expertise to bring to our brand. We only launched a year ago, but already we are achieving more than we thought possible."

Russell EvansCo-founder, Bullards Spirits

GP surgery among top 4% in country

A GP surgery in north Norfolk is the first in the district to be be rated as "outstanding" by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Inspectors from the health watchdog inspected Ludham and Stalham Green surgeries in January. 

Ludham surgery - a one storey red brick building
North Norfolk CCG

The practice was praised for delivering well-led and caring services, and promoting good outcomes for patients.

Staff were also commended for arranging local meetings and events in conjunction with external support agencies, such as Age UK and for hosting the monthly Alzheimer's Society Dementia Cafe. 

Stalham Green surgery, a one storey red brick building
North Norfolk CCG

It's the first surgery in north Norfolk to be given the rating, which puts them in the top 4% of practices in the country.  

Weather: Clear tonight and sunny spells and showers tomorrow

Julie Reinger

BBC Look East weather

Any evening showers should soon ease, to leave mostly dry conditions for the rest of the night with some clear spells. It will be mild with a minimum temperature of 10C (50F).


Tomorrow morning some showery rain will move eastwards. By the afternoon it will turn drier and brighter, with sunny spells and a few light showers. 

It'll be a little less warm than today with a maximum temperature of about 17C (63F).

There are more details on BBC Weather website .

Witness appeal to city centre attacks

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Police have launched an investigation into a rape, two robberies and an assault which happened within an hour of each other in the centre of Norwich this morning.

Officers were first called to Ten Bell Court in the Pottergate area shortly 06:30 to reports a woman had been assaulted and raped. 

In a separate incident, a woman also contacted police to say she'd been physically assaulted in the underpass in St Stephen's. She suffered minor facial injuries.

Two men were robbed in separate incidents in Theatre Street and London Street.

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with these incidents and is being held at Wymondham police centre for questioning.

During the investigation of these incidents, police were made away of a further report which may be linked. At around 04:30 a woman reported being sexually assaulted on Riverside Road.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them. 

Parents escape fine for taking children out of school

Alex Dunlop

BBC Look East

A couple who faced a £240 fine for taking their two children out of school for a week have lost their fight in court. 

Matt and Kerry Thomas, of Norwich, said it was the only way they could afford a family holiday. 

In June last year, they took 11-year-old Faith and her brother Cain, 14, to Majorca. The holiday cost them £1,800, but would have cost £3,000 if they'd gone during school holidays.

Norwich Magistrates' Court

The children are pupils at Catton Grove Primary and Hellesdon High. Both school heads said the week away affected their education.

The local authority's rules are clear... if a child misses school for five days in a row the law has been broken. 

Faith and Cain were away for seven consecutive days. 

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council say it's the head teachers who decide whether or not to follow guidance and take action about absences.

Mr and Mrs Thomas escaped a fine at Norwich Magistrates' Court today - they were given a nine month conditional discharge.

Sad loss for Diss as historic oak set to be cut down

Diss Express

Diss residents have expressed sadness at the impending loss of an oak tree which has stood in the town for more than two centuries.

The tree on the green in Willbye Avenue, believed to have once tethered elephants belonging a travelling circus decades ago, is in the process of being chopped down, after safety concerns were outlined by site owners Saffron Housing.

Barriers around the tree, which has had its branches cut off
Diss Express

Terrorist victim's promise to wife

More on Tony and Chris Callaghan, who've been telling BBC Radio Norfolk's Nick Conrad of how they'd become separated during a Tunisia terror attack at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, two years ago.

Tony was barricaded inside a hotel office, and his wife was lying injured in the corridor outisde - just a few feet away. 

She'd been shot through her right thigh as she was running from the gunman.

Although badly injured herself, Chris keep talking to a woman who'd been injured and kept slipping in unconsciousness. 

"Every time she went quiet, I would shake her, touch her... I got to know her name, where she lived... her husband was standing there shaking, petrified, he didn't know what to do... I didn't think I was going to die, it never crossed my mind."

          Floral tributes on the beach to victims of the terrorist attack

They could still hear gunfire, followed by a lull and then "a really heavy gun battle, incessant gunfire... we thought maybe the police or army, and our help was coming."

It then quietened down, and Tony was able to get out to Chris.

She was propped up against a wall, I knelt down and we gave each other a hug and I said no matter what injuries we've got, we'll get through this together and that was a promise I've made to her and I'm keeping."

Tony Callaghan

Campaigner's son wants to don helmet as tribute to mother

Jill Bennett

BBC Radio Norfolk

Returning to our story about the councillor who died in a fire....

The son of a campaigner who was killed in a house blaze says he's going to follow his mother's example.

Tracey Swann, a Heacham parish councillor, had campaigned to save the village fire station after it was earmarked for possible closure.

Last September, she died in a fire at her Caley Street home.

Caley Street in Heacham

Ms Swann was one of dozens of volunteers given awards for their service at a ceremony in King's Lynn last night.

Tanner Swann says his mother served Heacham fire station and he is hoping to join the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service .

After they did everything they could to save her, the least I can do is help."

Tanner Swann

Remaining warm, dry and sunny

We're basking in above-above temperatures, with the mercury set to hit 20C (68F) this afternoon.

I love these "blue sky" moments, captured by our BBC Weather Watchers :

Magnolia in bloom, against a blue sky
Blue sky, with clouds, over coastland
Pink blossom against a bright blue sky

Villa in strong shape for visit of City

Norwich Evening News

Steve Bruce remains confident of promotion to Premier League next season - the back page of the Norwich Evening News today:

Back page of Norwich Evening News