Investigations & Crime

Council privately plans to sell golf club it spent £10m on for just £2m

Questions are being asked after it emerged a council faces losing millions on a golf club it spent £10m on but is selling for just £2m. Breckland Council bought Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club in a controversial deal in 2006 for £7m. It then spent another £1.2m on taxes and a further £2m doing it up. The council first tried to sell the venue in 2018 to the current tenants for £6.5m, but since then its value has collapsed further and according to council papers, it is planning to sell the “

Law student takes landlord to court over terrible state of room - and wins

A law student is celebrating his first ever legal victory and the return of £1,000 after taking his landlord to court. Jack Simm successfully sued the company behind Velocity Student on St Mildreds Road, West Earlham, for breach of contract following a string of problems with the accommodation. Complaints about the state of the building, developed by the Freedman Project LLP and managed by a company called Estateducation, were first made in this newspaper in June. At the time, Norwich City Cou

'People are dying': Up to 500 patients waited for ambulance in one night

More than 500 patients were waiting for an ambulance at a peak time this week as demand on the 999 service hits record levels. One evening around 500 calls to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) were “stacked”, meaning they had been answered but were waiting to be assigned an ambulance. In the Norwich area alone more than 100 calls were waiting to be allocated at one point, according to information leaked to this newspaper.

Boss who boasted of lavish lifestyle is bankrupt with £100k debts

A couple who appeared on national TV boasting about their luxury lifestyle are being chased for a six-figure sum in unpaid bills and were previously declared bankrupt. Layden-Grant Seymour, his wife Fran and their nine children were featured on the ITV show Britain's Biggest Families on Thursday night. Mr Seymour, who lives in Aldeburgh, bragged that he had more cars than children and was pictured with a Bentley and Jaguar. He also has a £70,000 Rolex collection.

Drivers delivering Amazon parcels take home as little as £2 an hour

Drivers delivering parcels for Amazon have lifted the lid on working conditions, claiming they sometimes earned the equivalent of £2 an hour. Andy Cooper, from Caister-on-Sea, started at a delivery company called KMI Logistics last autumn. KMI is one of several companies around Norfolk which are contracted by Amazon to deliver their packages. The pay was £127 a day, according to his payslip. However, workers also paid £207 a week to KMI to hire a van - regardless of how many days work they we

Senior staff member lifts lid on 'desperate' situation in N&N

Nurses are breaking down in tears and coronavirus victims are dying with little privacy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as it nears capacity, a senior staff member said today. Speaking out because she says many people do not realise how desperate the situation is, the staff member said wards were being overwhelmed. The NNUH is treating more than 300 coronavirus patients and is at 90pc capacity, with numbers continuing to rise. Its chief nurse said it was in a "fight" and called

How we won fight to name cathedral fraudster

Rene Mugenzi. Until Friday, printing those two words in this newspaper could have landed us in prison. It has taken three months of back and forth between two courts to be able to tell you this: Rene Mugenzi stole £220,000 from St John the Baptist Cathedral while volunteering as its treasurer. On Friday he was jailed for 27 months at Norwich Crown Court. Normally, reporting the facts of a court case is straightforward - but this time it was not. H

Conservative MP’s husband calls coronavirus a ‘mental illness’ as he joins anti-vaxx march

The husband of a Norfolk MP claimed coronavirus was a “phantom” and a “mental illness” as he joined a protest against facemasks and vaccinations. Sandy McFadzean, husband of Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, attended Saturday’s march in London where protesters carried signs against coronavirus measures. A poster for the march, retweeted by Mr McFadzean on Twitter, also called for no track and trace, an end to social distancing, and no facemasks. It mentioned a group called StandUp X which claims

More than 200 pupils highlight racism issues at top private school

Pupils at a leading Norfolk private school have raised allegations of a catalogue of racist abuse by staff and fellow students. More than 250 former and current pupils have called for teachers to be trained in “everyday racism” and for changes to the curriculum after students and alumni came forward to share their experience of alleged racial abuse at Norwich School. In response, the school apologised and headmaster Steffan Gr

Tattoo artists quit after claims of inappropriate behaviour to women

Two Norwich tattoo artists have quit suddenly after allegations were made on social media about their behaviour towards women. Brad Ward and Andrew Balls announced on their Instagram accounts at the weekend that they were leaving the industry and apologised for their behaviour. It came after another Norwich tattoo artist published claims on the site about how the two artists allegedly treated some customers. That artist cla
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Consumer & Business

‘You’re trespassing’ - What happened when we gave Matt Hancock QEH petition

The health secretary’s office has refused to accept a petition signed by more than 6,000 people to build a new hospital for Norfolk. The roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn is in desperate need of replacement and is currently being supported by almost 200 metal poles. Problems with its roof have been known since at least 2016 and millions of pounds have already been spent repairing it, but the hospital has warned that it poses a “direct risk to life” and needs a complete

Council spent £20m on an office and industrial units before coronavirus hit

City Hall chiefs splashed out more than £20m on an office block and industrial units before the pandemic hit commercial property prices. Coronavirus has seen the value of commercial property and rents plummet and Norwich City Council has offered tenants a three-month rent deferral. It said the decision to invest another £21m in commercial property was made before coronavirus reached the UK. In February it spent £14.5

Building firm collapses owing £1.7m and is left with just £10,000 to pay people back

The directors of a building firm, which collapsed owing £1.7m, have already set up another company under an almost identical name, sparking anger from creditors. Bespoke Norfolk Ltd, based in Hunstanton, went into liquidation at the start of May, with the directors, Ben Day and Stuart Deadman, blaming the impact of coronavirus. A document drawn up by the company’s liquidator, McTear Williams and Wood, has now

Why Norwich’s biggest youth charity collapsed now

It helped thousands of young people and became Norwich’s biggest live music venue, but the Open Youth Trust had struggled for years to make ends meet before it finally closed this month. It took six years and £12m for the Open Youth Trust to transform the former Barclays bank on Bank Plain into the city’s biggest venue and charity headquarters. The Open’s chairman, Russ Dacre, remembers stepping into the 1920s building in 2003 with its high ceilings and vaults and seeing the old banking desks

Lenwade House Hotel staff hit out at owners

Workers at a luxury hotel which suddenly shut this month allege they were constantly paid late and have hit out at the running of the venue. Lenwade House Hotel, on Fakenham Road, shut on Friday, January 10 leaving couples who had paid deposits for weddings in despair. But ex-staff now say they too have been let down by the hotel. The owner of Norfolk Hotel Group Ltd, Nick Scrivens, which ran the venue, said the business shut becaus

How fraudsters tricked Lloyds customer into thinking they were from her bank

How fraudsters tricked Lloyds customer into thinking they were from her bank Scammers are tricking customers by appearing to call them through their bank's official number. A Lloyds customer from Watton, who did not wish to be named, said she received a call from her bank's customer service number on Tuesday, but the caller turned out to be a scammer. The call came after she was tricked by fraudsters into submitting a fake tax return online, two days earlier. She received an email on Sunday

'It came out of the blue': More than 200 firms lose out after collapse of 150-year-old building company

'It came out of the blue': More than 200 firms lose out after collapse of 150-year-old building company A construction firm which collapsed after 155 years owed £1m to around 250 suppliers, including many local businesses. Gill Building, which folded in June, had been operating since 1864 and focused on school and council contracts from its base at Colton, west of Norwich. But it called in administrators in June after it said contracts dried up. Its managing director also blamed the "rumour m

'It affects the rest of your life' - investor lost £55k in collapsed holiday park firm

'It affects the rest of your life' - investor lost £55k in collapsed holiday park firm A grandfather says the failure of a holiday park company will impact on the rest of his life after he poured £55,000 of savings into a luxury lodge. Chris Tyler, 73, was promised returns of 8pc a year on his investment at Norfolk Park near North Walsham. But in autumn last year the payments from Dream Lodge Group stopped. The firm, which ran eight holiday parks across England, including Norfolk Park and Fo

Old buses 'dumped' in Norwich after other cities get new vehicles

Old buses 'dumped' in Norwich after other cities get new vehicles Norwich is being used as a "dumping ground" for old buses which are no longer needed in other parts of the country, sparking fears about air pollution. The owners of the city's two biggest bus operators, First and Konect, both send old buses to the city from other parts of the country when those areas get new vehicles. It is common for large bus companies to move fleets around, but the extent that it is happening in Norwich mea

Customers paid millions of pounds for holiday lodges which were never built

Customers paid millions of pounds for holiday lodges which were never built Investors poured millions of pounds into holiday lodges which were never built, new documents show. More than 1,150 people claim they are owed a combined £25.6m by Walsham Chalet Park Ltd which traded as Dream Lodge Group until it collapsed in January. The firm's administrator, Deloitte, said there should be around £4m left for creditors after the company was sold for £12m and most of the money was used to pay off ban

Chinese food firm awarded £600,000 of your money for factory it never opened

Chinese food firm awarded £600,000 of your money for factory it never opened A Chinese food firm given £600,000 of public cash to transform an empty warehouse into a dumpling factory has blamed Brexit for never completing the project. Freshasia was awarded the money in 2015 to revitalise an old lamb-packing plant in Little Melton and create 50 new jobs. But what was meant to be one of Europe’s biggest dumpling factories still stands empty and when this newspaper visited Little Melton Food Par

Revealed: How council handed over millions of pounds without carrying out checks

Revealed: How council handed over millions of pounds without carrying out checks Failures by a council in handing over almost £5 million to build a new business centre have been laid bare. King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council (KLWN) gave the cash in grants and loans to enterprise agency Nwes from 2012 to 2016 in a deal which was “heavily weighted” against it and on which it carried out no due diligence, a report found. Nwes then failed to pay back a £2.75m loan from the council for th

Customers slam ‘blasé and arrogant’ builder John Miller who took thousands of pounds off them

Customers slam ‘blasé and arrogant’ builder John Miller who took thousands of pounds off them The many ways John Miller let down his customers were as diverse as the jobs he claimed he could do. But his methods each time were blunt - and devastating for those who trusted him. The builder, from Three Mile Lane, Costessey, would under quote for a project and begin work quickly. All would go well at the start and customers paid him promptly. But then the workmen would stop turning up and the p

‘How we lost our £200,000 life savings to scammers’

‘How we lost our £200,000 life savings to scammers’ A Watton couple reveal how they were “groomed” by scammers who made off with their £200,000 life savings. The letters promised Terence Donelan hope: hope of getting some of his money back after years of losses. Instead they robbed him of his life savings. Terry, 80, and wife Glyn, 77, worked hard and saved harder. He was a project manager in the construction industry while she was a nurse. Just before the financial crash in 2007 the Watton

How a £43,000 granny annexe in this Costessey garden turned into a nightmare

How a £43,000 granny annexe in this Costessey garden turned into a nightmare A family’s bid to build a garden home for their elderly mother has turned to disaster after a company they paid £43,000 left the job incomplete and with a litany of problems. Artist Sam Elmhirst now has an uninhabitable lodge in her garden on Myrtle Avenue, Costessey – and one surveyor estimates £37,500 of work is needed to fix mistakes made by builders. When she tried to take the firm, Hudson Garden Rooms Limited, t

Revealed: How struggling enterprise agency Nwes paid public cash to directors’ firms

Serious questions were today raised about the previous management of the region’s publicly-funded enterprise agency after it emerged it spent cash on two of its directors firms, while it racked up millions of pounds in debt. A joint investigation by the EDP and the BBC reveals a web of conflicting interests at the heart of Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Service (Nwes) while it was led by chief executive Kevin Horne and strategic director John Balch. The agency gets millions of pounds in public

Christmas in a caravan: £85,000 building project on artist’s dream cottage turns to nightmare

Christmas is cancelled for customers of a west Norfolk building firm who are camping at their homes after a catalogue of problems with their projects. One artist has been living in a caravan in her front garden since May after a project to renovate her cottage in north Norfolk ran five months over time. Imogen Ashwin has paid building firm Traditional Renovations Ltd £75,000 for work on her new home in Ridlington, near North Walsham. She hoped for a fresh start after losing her son Adam, 33,
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