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Summary

  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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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.

  5. 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
    Image caption: 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. 

  6. 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

    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.

    Quote Message: 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.” from Sir Michael Fallon Defence Secretary
    Sir Michael FallonDefence Secretary
  7. 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.

    Quote Message: 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." from Karen Kramer Back from the Brink
    Karen KramerBack from the Brink
  8. When tackles go wrong...

    #PeoplesCup

    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.

    Video content

    Video caption: FA People's Cup: top 10 magic moments from the 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.

  9. 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.

    Quote Message: 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.” from Tina Casburn Head teacher
    Tina CasburnHead teacher
  10. 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

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

  11. 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

    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. 

  12. 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
  13. 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

    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. 

  14. 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
  15. 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.

  16. '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.

  17. 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
  18. 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.

  19. 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
    Quote Message: 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." from Angie Fitch-Tillett North Norfolk District Council
    Angie Fitch-Tillett North Norfolk District Council