Deputy News Editor Rebecca Creed looks at some of the major stories that made the headlines this year in part two of the Times' review of 2017


A NEW burger bar opened its doors in Witham town centre.

Burger Junkie, in Newland Street, was unveiled having undergone a five-month transformation.

It opened in the former Hold the Anchovies restaurant which closed in February.

Owner Dax Whitnell said: “Our burger joint will be original, one you won’t see anywhere else. The build took us five months and longer than expected, but we had to research the original recipes ourselves and try everything out.”


BRAINTREE Town’s chairman revealed his fears the club could fold by 2022, if draft local plan proposals go ahead.

The site of Braintree Town Football Club’s training facilities has been allocated for housing in the plan, a move that could leave the club homeless.

With plans for a new stadium recently stalling, he thought it could spell the end of the former Crittall Sports and Social Club football team.

Lee Harding, chairman of Braintree Town, said: “If they build on the training pitch then we cannot stage games.”


BRAINTREE Council announced plans to invest £100,000 on protecting its open spaces from illegal traveller encampments.

The money will be spent over the next two years on better securing a number of potentially vulnerable council owned open spaces in the district in an attempt to deter travellers from setting up unauthorised camps on the land.

The move came after a spate of illegal camps sprung up across the district during the summer including one group that moved onto the Braintree Council owned Great Saling Playing Field.


AN investigation was launched after a blaze ripped through a derelict pub.

Six fire crews were called to tackle the blaze which started in the Queens Head, Old Road, Surrex, just off the A120.

Firefighters used an aerial ladder platform to battle the blaze for four hours from all angles. The A120 was partially closed as smoke billowed across it with long delays for about seven hours.

Witham MP Priti Patel said: “I would like to pay tribute to our emergency services, who were on the scene quickly.”


A FIRE devastated two industrial units in Braintree.

Boyton Cross Motors’ vehicle storage unit and Leader Lifestyle’s furniture warehouse on Springwood Drive in Braintree were destroyed by the blaze.

Firefighters spent 14 hours tackling the fire, saving other buildings and preventing it restarting.

Bradley Hill, of London Road, described being woken up by a loud cracking noise, which the fire service said were tyres and cylinders exploding.

The 23-year-old said: “When I looked out of my window, there was this massive plume of black smoke, almost like a nuclear bomb had gone off. It was quite spectacular.”


STUNNED charity shop workers discovered a donation of more than £1,000 in cash posted through the letter box by an anonymous donor.

The cash was made up of £20 notes, sealed in an envelope marked with Cancer Research UK and posted through the door of the charity’s shop in Bank Street, Braintree.


A BLIND music teacher became an internet sensation after a video of him playing the piano was posted online.

The video showing Malcolm Timms, 71, of Braintree, playing In a Tiny House by Max Bygraves, had more than 5,000 views on Facebook.

Popular Mr Timms, who has worked at schools across the town for 35 years, became an online star after former pupil Joanne Constantinou posted the clip.

Joanne said: “It has had loads of shares and hundreds of comments from all over the world.”


AN American style diner just off the A12 closed in mysterious circumstances.

The owners of Empire Diner announced the closure on the restaurant’s Facebook page, with a post saying the business would remain closed “until further notice”.

There was no indication given as to the reasons behind the closure.

The Empire, located off the A12 northbound at Rivenhall, was opened by businessman and catering expert Mark Mascar in June 2016, in the premises of the former 8-ball Diner.


WITHAM MP Priti Patel promised to focus on her constituency after her resignation from Government.

Ms Patel was forced to stand down as International Development Secretary after holding a series of secret meetings while on a “family holiday”.

Ms Patel apologised and, in a statement to the Braintree and Witham Times, confirmed she would remain as constituency MP.

She said: “Being the Member of Parliament for Witham has always been my number one priority.”


IT was revealed the long-awaited opening of a dessert parlour on Braintree High Street would be completed just in time for Christmas.

A revamp to convert the former Bailey’s Bar into a Kaspa’s cost more than £250,000.

Mark Adams, and business partner Deepak Patel, are behind the plans, under the umbrella of UK Desserts Limited.

Mr Adams said: “The Braintree area is the right demographic for a Kaspa’s. We thought Braintree would proposer out of one coming here.”


CAMPAIGNERS celebrated after a controversial planning application for 1,600 homes was refused.

Councillors unanimously voted against the outline application for the Brook Green development at a planning meeting on Tuesday, which would have seen the homes built on land either side of Flitch Way, Braintree.

The application was submitted in 2015 by Acorn Braintree Ltd and included plans to build a primary school and designate some land for businesses.


IT was revealed a cafe would be forced to close after after the landlord decided to turn the premises into houses.

Crepeaholic, Braintree Road, Witham, will close its doors in January when work will begin on building two houses.

Owners Ashley Gardiner and Wesley Dell’ovo will keep the business open until then but are unlikely to be able to afford setting up in a new premises due to the start-up costs.

Miss Gardiner said: “We are going to miss everyone so much but we will have the beautiful memories.”