Category Archives: Local news

TfL Rail work to improve stations and tracks continues this autumn

From late October until December 2017, there will be weekend closures on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield route while Network Rail installs over 10 kilometres of new overhead wires, replacing older ones from the 1950s to improve reliability. Network Rail will also be continuing their work at Harold Wood, Gidea Park, Forest Gate and Goodmayes to refurbish station buildings and provide step-free access.

brentwood railway

During this time, Transport for London (TfL) will also continue to install new lifts at Seven Kings, Manor Park and Maryland stations to provide step-free access.

Closures vary each weekend so customers are advised to check before they travel at

• Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October
There will be no service between Stratford and Shenfield. Rail replacement buses will call at all affected stations except Maryland, as well as Newbury Park (for the Central line).

• Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October
On Saturday, trains will not stop at Maryland, Forest Gate or Manor Park.
On Sunday, there will be no service between Liverpool Street and Ilford. Customers are advised to use local bus routes instead.

• Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 November
There will be no service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield. Rail replacement buses will call at all affected stations except Maryland, as well as Newbury Park (for the Central line).

• Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 November
There will be no service between Liverpool Street and Romford. Rail replacement buses will call at all affected stations.

• Saturday 25 November and Saturday 2, Saturday 9 and Saturday 16 December
There will be no service between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield. Rail replacement buses will call at all affected stations.

As part of their railway upgrade programme, Network Rail will be rebuilding the train sidings at Gidea Park where TfL Rail trains are stabled. Work here will be taking place from Saturday 25 November 2017 until February 2018.

From Monday 27 November, there will be extra weekday peak services and early Saturday morning services with other train times amended. The majority of customers across the route will have shorter waiting times between services.

Howard Smith, TfL’s Operations Director for TfL Rail, said: “I’d like to thank customers for their patience while work continues to prepare for the Elizabeth line and remind them to always check before they travel. This work means that next year some stations on the TfL Rail route will have new lifts available to provide step-free access from street to platform for the first time.”

There will be no TfL Rail service on the entire line from Saturday 23 December until Monday 1 January, replacement buses will call at all stations except Maryland, connecting with the Central line at Newbury Park and Stratford stations. There will be no replacement buses from 23:00 on Christmas Eve and all day on Christmas Day.

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Changes to constituencies – Brentwood no longer joining Basildon, and Billericay’s back!

Revised proposals for the shape of parliamentary seats at the next general election have been published – and previous plans which suggested that Brentwood residents would be voting for Basildon’s MP have now been scrapped.

new map

We reported in September 2016 that proposed boundary changes looked to take Great Warley, Little Warley, Ingrave and Herongate out of Brentwood and into the South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency.

These plans have now been rejected, with a reshaped Brentwood and Ongar constituency keeping the borough’s villages as well as stretching out to Abridge and the edges of Loughton, and also take in villages north of Chelmsford including Broomfield, Chignall Smealy and Ford End.

The proposals also see the return of Billericay as a single constituency, having previously existed between 1950 and 2010 before being merged into Basildon. The new Billericay constituency would take in South Woodham Ferrers as well as towns to the west and east of Chelmsford, including Writtle, Little Baddow and Danbury.

The proposed constituency boundaries in England, Scotland and Wales have been drawn up on the basis the total number of MPs will be cut from 650 to 600. The plans will now be put before parliament for approval.

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Hospice Care Week: Carly’s story


Carly, 36, is a beautiful young woman with a great sense of humour and a big smile. She loves to laugh, go shopping for clothes, spend time with her family and have a glass of wine at her local.

But Carly has very complex medical needs and without the specialist services she receives from Saint Francis Hospice in the community, her life would be very different.

Carly has never been able to speak and has always had physical and learning disabilities but prior to a gradual deterioration when she was in her 20s, she had been able to lead a relatively independent life, walking, following instructions, dressing and feeding herself.

In December 2013 Carly was eventually diagnosed with a rare form of Neurogenerative Brain Iron Accumulation (NBIA). After years of waiting for her condition to be identified, her devoted parents Debbie and Peter Davies were glad it had finally been given a name but they were devastated to be told that there was no treatment or cure for the life-limiting neurological disorder and she wasn’t expected to live for more than four years.

Within just a few months her health had deteriorated so rapidly that Carly lost the use of her legs, her body started to twist and she became totally dependent on her family and her carers.

Carly’s prognosis was reduced to two years and in April 2014 she was referred to the Specialist Community and Crisis Support Team (SCCS) at Saint Francis Hospice.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Katy Chelchowska and the hospice medical consultant assessed Carly in her home shortly afterwards and they immediately took steps to manage her pain and make her comfortable.

Katy also identified a range of services at the hospice that Carly and her family could benefit from.

I don’t know what we would have done if we did not have Saint Francis Hospice on board,” said Debbie, 58, who lives in Brentwood.

During our first meeting, Katy experienced Carly’s symptoms where her arms would go into spasms and she would howl in pain.

Before we had contact with the hospice there was a period of a few weeks when Carly did not sleep at all.

It has been a long journey getting her medication under control but she is in a good place now.

She is as pain free as she can be and her sleep has really settled down.”

Carly has received reflexology from the complementary therapy team, physiotherapy, her parents were referred to the family support team for carers support and she has been seen by a hospice medical consultant both at home and at a hospice outpatient clinic.

We had a scare earlier this year and Dr Mark Howard sorted it out,” said Debbie.

He thought it was possible that Carly had a bleed in her stomach. He asked for blood tests to be done and we found out she was badly anaemic, which was treatable.”

It’s now been more than three years since Katy first met Carly and her parents, who are separated but share the care of their daughter, and over that time they have all developed a strong rapport.

Debbie’s first experience of the hospice was when it looked after her mother before she died in 2011 but like most people she was not aware that 85% of patients were cared for in their home or in a care home and she was amazed to discover how much Katy and the community team could do to improve Carly’s quality of life.

I used to think hospices were solely for people with cancer,” said Debbie.

Carly still sees her consultant neurologist at Queen’s Hospital every six months but nothing can be done for her so where do you go?

It means so much to know that I can ring Katy or the 24-hour advice line anytime if I have any worries about Carly and they will be able to help me.

Katy has prepared us for what we need to do in an emergency situation and she has taught us how to use special ways of giving Carly pain relief.”

Another crucial aspect of Katy’s role is liaising with healthcare professionals such as GPs and district nurses and she has even sourced specialist equipment so Carly can sleep and rest more easily.

Katy also regularly visits Carly at Heathlands Day Centre in Dagenham where she attends five days a week to monitor her closely and because Carly’s condition is so complex and continually changing, Katy’s specialist knowledge and training enables her to support and advise staff about her medication and symptom control.

Carly has outlived her prognosis and Debbie says the hardest thing for the family is not knowing what will happen at the final stage of her life, but what they do know for certain is that the hospice will be there to support them every step of the way.

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Queen’s Theatre produces world premiere of a new adaptation of H.G.Wells’ The Invisible Man

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to be producing an exhilarating world premiere of a new adaptation of H.G.Wells’ sci-fi classic, The Invisible Man. This gripping thriller opens on Halloween and brings the theatre’s autumn season to a close. It runs from 27 October 18 November.

Matthew Spencer as Griffin - The Invisible Man - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch. Photo credit Mark Sepple small

Matthew Spencer as Griffin. Photo: Mark Sepple

As the 19th Century draws to a smoggy close, in a small room on Great Portland Street, scientist Jack Griffin discovers something that has, quite literally, never been seen before. Later, the arrival of a sinister figure wrapped in bandages in a small village in West Sussex sends the locals’ tongues wagging and suspicions racing. After a series of mysterious incidents, fears of the faceless man turn to terror and the villagers attempt to hunt him down – can Jack, plagued by his own obsession for power, find safety and return to normality?

The cast includes Phil Adèle (Little Shop of Horrors, Selladoor UK tour; Red Dwarf, Dave); Sophie Duval (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, West End; Anne Boleyn & As You Like It, Shakespeare’s Globe); Nicholas Goode (Of Mice And Men, Birmingham Repertory Theatre); Paul McEwan (The Seven Acts of Mercy & The Two Noble Kinsmen, Royal Shakespeare Company; Peaky Blinders, Tiger Aspect/BBC); William Oxborrow (Guys and Dolls, West End; Sweeney Todd, Tim Burton); Matthew Spencer (1984, West End & International Tour; The Woman in Black, West End & Tour); Matthew Woodyatt (One Man Two Guvnors, West End, UK & International Tour; War Horse (original cast), National Theatre) and Eleanor Wyld (Don Juan in Soho, West End; The Alchemist & Dr Faustus, Royal Shakespeare Company).

This breath-taking adaptation of H.G. Wells’ iconic novella is written by award-winning theatre-maker Clem Garritty (Don’t Wake The Damp, Kill the Beast) and directed by Ryan McBryde (Before The Party, Salisbury Playhouse). This production will transport audiences into a Victorian world of science, live music and illusion as The Invisible Man disappears before their very eyes!

The Invisible Man runs at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 27 October – 18 November. Tickets are £12.50 – £29 with £10 tickets available for Under 26s at certain performances. Bookings can be made by calling the Box Office on 01708 443333, in person at the theatre or online at

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More Creative Sessions!

We’ve been running our famous Creative Sessions since 2005 with the Creative Recording Studios in East Horndon, Brentwood. It’s an opportunity for local bands to record a FULLY PLUGGED IN session, mixed and mastered expertly by Dave Shalloe from Creative, all for exclusive Phoenix FM airplay!


Turin Brakes

We’re hosting some sessions in the next few weeks and here is the current schedule:

Sat 11 Nov: 12.30-14.30 James Benardout
Sat 11 Nov: 15.00-17.00 Tall Poppies
Sat 25 Nov: 12.30-14.30 available
Sat 25 Nov: 15.00-17.00 available
Sat 09 Dec: 12.30-14.30 Velvet Tree
Sat 09 Dec: 15.00-17.00 The Beatniks

If you’re an artist interested in taking one of the slots, please email or use the Contact Us page on this website to stake your claim.

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Queen’s Theatre partners with National Theatre to stage participatory production of Pericles

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is excited to be working with the National Theatre (NT) on an exciting new initiative, Public Acts.

National Theatre - Photo by Philip Vile

Public Acts is a nationwide initiative to celebrate community and create extraordinary theatre, inspired by Public Works, The Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme of participatory theatre in New York.

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is the first theatre partner for Public Acts which will see a two year partnership between Queen’s Theatre, NT and a number of community organisations across Greater London including local organisation The Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA). Through these partnerships, members of London’s diverse communities will be invited to take part in regular creative activity and join in the creation of theatre productions.

The first of these will be a new production of Pericles on the NT’s Olivier stage in August 2018. It will feature a small cast of professional actors together with a large community ensemble, who will be cast through their connection with the numerous community partner organisations. The NT has commissioned Chris Bush, a writer with extensive experience working with large community ensembles, to adapt Shakespeare’s Pericles which will be directed by NT resident director Emily Lim.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said, ‘I’ve been passionate about making theatre with communities since long before I became Director of the National Theatre in 2015, and one of the first decisions I took was that this work should become part of our DNA. We’re really excited about Public Acts and working with all our partners over the next two years, coming together as a community of people and of organisations who might otherwise not have met, sharing experiences and learning together through the act of creating theatre.’

Community partners for Public Acts over the next two years will include: Body & Soul, a charity dedicated to transforming the impact of childhood adversity; Open Age, a charity that works with older Londoners to create opportunities for them to connect, learn new skills and combat isolation; Thames Reach a London-based charity helping homeless and vulnerable people to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives; The Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA) works with all sections of the local Havering community, particularly of Asian origin with specific emphasis on isolated and disadvantaged individuals; Bromley by Bow Centre supports vulnerable young people, adults and families to help create a cohesive, healthy, successful and vibrant east London community, Coram, the UK children’s charity that helps children and young people develop their skills and emotional health, finds adoptive parents and upholds children’s rights, creating a change that lasts a lifetime and Three Faiths Forum (3FF) who work to build good relations between people of all different faiths, beliefs and identities.

The project is generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Sackler Trust, founding supporters of Public Acts. The first 3 years of Public Acts is also supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

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Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch celebrates Black History Month with fantastic musical tributes

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is proudly celebrating Black History Month throughout October with a rich programme of live entertainment, celebrating the diversity in Havering’s communities.

Claudina Edwards sings Nina Simone

The programme begins with energetic jazz percussionist and vocalist Frank Holder and his Band on Friday 13 October at 2.30pm. Performing a mixture of jazz tunes, popular classics, swing and easy listening melodies, an afternoon in Frank Holder’s company is a must for any jazz lover.

A centenary musical tribute to one of America’s most beloved female jazz singers, Ella Fitzgerald, will be given by vocalists Sue and Jeff Short on Sunday 15 October at 3pm.

The legendary singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone criss-crossed our lives for five decades with songs such as My Baby Don’t Care, Ain’t Got No, Feeling Good and I Loves You Porgy. Audiences will have the chance to experience her life story in song and spoken word with Claudina Edwards on Sunday 22 October at 7.30pm, a regular performer at the theatre.

The Creole Brothers will be turning up the heat on Tuesday 24 October at 8pm with a powerful, pulsating blend of British folk and roots from Cajun and Creole Louisiana. Full of driving beats and earthy passion, this is music with its dance shoes on!

The final show in the programme is Soul Legends, a feel good celebration of the genre featuring hits by Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and more. Audiences can jump aboard the soul train on Sunday 29 October at 7.30pm.

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch champions diverse strands of work all year round and is delighted to be offering a platform to some of the best tributes within black history.

For more information about these events and to book call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or visit

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The Most Welcoming Theatre in the East!

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to be named as the regional winner in the East for the second year running as the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre in this year’s UK Theatre Awards.  The theatre is proud to be recognised for its excellent level of customer service by the general public, offering all visitors a warm and friendly welcome.

Tom Stanbury Queens_theatre_hornchurch

The theatre is among 12 regional winners announced by UK Theatre who are invited to the annual UK Theatre Awards ceremony on Sunday 15 October at London’s historic Guildhall, where the overall winner will be announced.

Mathew Russell, Executive Director at the Queen’s Theatre said, ‘We are overjoyed to have retained our title as the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre in the East. Thank you to everyone who voted for us and to all the staff at the Queen’s Theatre, whose continuing dedication and professionalism has earned us this award. We’re making great developments to our rich programme of work, offering an increasingly diverse and affordable programme of quality entertainment all year round to appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

This year’s nominations demonstrate the breadth and depth of outstanding talent and achievement in theatre and the performing arts throughout the United Kingdom, on and off stage. The full list can be viewed at

For more information about the Queen’s Theatre visit

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2017 Billericay Fun Walk breaks records in raising £120,000 for charities

At their Presentation ceremony this evening, John Baron MP and other Trustees of the Fun Walk Trust awarded bonus pot cheques to all those charities and good causes which took part in this year’s Fun Walk, which took place at Barleylands Farm back in May,

2017-05-21 01 Billericay Fun Walk

The Phoenix FM team at this year’s Fun Walk

Because of the generosity of corporate and individual sponsors, each project receives a bonus over and above what they raise themselves in sponsorship on the day. In this year’s walk, for every £100 raised by projects in sponsorship, the bonus pot is adding a further £55. The total monies raised both by the projects and bonus pot sponsors came to £120,000 with nearly 100 projects in total benefitting from this year’s Walk.

The presentation was held at Anisha Grange Care Home in Outwood Common Road, Billericay.

John said: “The 2017 Fun Walk has been a huge success and our bonus pot sponsors have been integral to that success. Our thanks go to Swan Housing Association, Billericay Town Football Club, c2c Rail, Abellio Greater Anglia, Hallmark Care Homes, Leonardo MW Ltd, Butyl Products Ltd, McDonald’s Basildon, IFE Global Logistics, Mr Barrie Stone, and others.

“Our thanks also go to Barleylands Farm for hosting the Walk and to Hallmark Care Homes for hosting the presentation evening, to our ‘Family of volunteers’ for organising and running the event, and to the many others who have helped including our marshals and accountants Hunt Smee and Co.

“Many people and good causes less fortunate than ourselves will benefit from everyone’s generosity. It’s been a great team effort.”

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Expectant mothers urged to get their free flu jab

Health experts at Basildon and Brentwood CCG are encouraging all pregnant women to get their free flu vaccination before the flu virus starts circulating.

NHS Framework Documant 2008

Flu can cause many complications during pregnancy, particularly in the later stages, such as premature births or low birth weights. In some cases, it can lead to stillbirth or even death in the first week of life. If you’re an expectant mother, getting your free flu vaccination helps to keep you and your baby safe.

Dr Anita Pereira, the CCG’s lead on self care, said: “I would urge anyone who is pregnant to get the flu vaccination as soon as possible. During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is naturally lower to ensure that the pregnancy is successful. As a result, pregnant women are less able to fight off infections and therefore more likely to be seriously ill if they contract the flu virus.

The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. It’s safe during any stage in pregnancy, from the first few weeks through to the woman’s due date and doesn’t carry any risks for mother or baby. Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.”

Even if you’ve had the flu vaccination before, it’s important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too. If you are towards the end of your pregnancy, you can also have the whooping cough vaccination at the same time.

Ask your midwife, GP or pharmacist about your free flu vaccination now. It’s free because you need it.

Watch this video to understand why it’s so important for pregnant women to have their free flu jab:

For more information visit

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