Swanton Morley

Regimental Blog Boad – Swanton Morley

Splitz Dereham

Splitz Dereham

Members of the “Light Dragoons” along with friends and family of the regiment frequently visit the nightclub and service personnel of the regiment are surprised by the local authorities’ decision to close the venue on grounds of drunkenness and drug abuse. Support for the venue from the service personnel of Robinson Barracks is wide ranging and include surprise by the local constabulary’s attitude towards the venue, saying that it shows comparable violence to other clubs of similar size.

Although the entire regiment was banned from using the venue last year for over eight months after a serious assault involving members of the Light Dragoons in Quebec Street and due to violent behavior towards local residents and issues over drunken incidents with police from the younger members stationed at Robinson Barracks these however have now been resolved. 

Michelle Lindsay Menzies

Michelle Lindsay Menzies

Ms. Michelle Lindsay Menzies the current DPS “Designated Premises Supervisor” since March 2012 and solely responsible for the venue and security, including the safety of its customers, attacks the police decision in a statement, responding to the police claims saying the standards are “of a very high level” and that she believes the review of the license is to “suit the police shift patterns, staffing issues and budget restrictions”.

She also said: “Any undue restrictions upon our trading hours I believe, as do other business owners, would bring catastrophic consequences to my business and others as clubbers would seek to leave Dereham for other venues.”

In describing the incidents of assault as “ugly”, Ms Menzies said she believes there are “peaks and troughs” in any business and added that Splitz is leading the way to address the issues raised.

It is believed that the present club management lacks direction in resolving its current situation and that Ms. Menzies, from the concerns of the local authorities shows a lackluster attitude to addressing any concerns of customer safety at the premises due to her inexperience and naivety, with little or no understanding to the clubs requirement within the 2003 licensing act. It has also been remarked by customers of the venue that Ms. Menzies can frequently be seen partying and drinking with friends leaving the venue to be run by unqualified members of staff.

Police have said that despite reassurances from Ms. Menzies and management at the club, they believe there is a “lack of desire and consistency” to make sure measures are put in to place to stop the frequency of criminality.

Police first made contact with management at Splitz in December 2010, and said since then they have had concerns about the way in which the club is run.

The application, which was written on behalf of the Chief Constable of Norfolk Police, said: “It would seem that there is either not the willingness by staff to deal with potential trouble makers, or a failure to intervene early enough, or to spot when persons are displaying signs of drunkeness or agitation that then develop into violent altercations.”

Police say the club has the highest level of required police attendance in the town, with incidents such as assault resulting in a broken jaw, door staff being bitten and a police officer being punched.

The application stressed that a “continuance of such behaviour should not be tolerated”, and suggested the committee suspend the license for three months so that amendments can me made and implemented.

These include a new closing hour of 2.15am, more intensive security staff at the venue, no re-entry to the club after 1am, a CCTV system be fitted which meets the industry standard and a radio system between staff.

The meeting will be in the Anglia Room at Breckland Council in Dereham on May 9 at 9.30am.

Splitz DerehamLight Dragoons night spot to close following police action due to major drunkenness and violent behavior. Splitz nightclub based in Dereham and frequented by members of the Light Dragoons is due for closure, if the authorities are granted their proposed requirements to enforce the 2003 licensing act.  Police have asked that the business be closed for three months after local authorities condemned the venue for its level of violence and drunkenness – deeming it a “high risk” to the community.

Members of the local regiment “Light Dragoons” frequently visit the nightclub and service personnel of the regiment are surprised by the local authorities’ decision to close the venue on grounds of drunkenness and drug abuse saying the premises have always had a reputation for being “on the lively side during the nights” that’s why we like it.

Last year the whole regiment was banned from using the venue by the base command for over six months due to inappropriate behavior by army personnel, follow several incidents of assault involving the Light Dragoons on members of the local community.  

Norfolk Police have asked Breckland Council’s licensing sub-committee to review and consider temporarily suspending the license for Splitz, on Quebec Street at their meeting next month.

The police said in their application for the review that the venue has an “unacceptable” level of drunkenness inside which transpires into regular assaults and anti-social behavior both inside and in the surrounding area.

The club, which is run by Michelle Menzies, opens until 2am in the week, 4am on Friday and Saturday night, and at the back of the venue there is a complex for elderly people, as well as residential property in the area.

Police have said that despite reassurances from Ms Menzies and management at the club, they believe there is a “lack of desire and consistency” to make sure measures are put in to place to stop the frequency of criminality.

Michelle Menzies

Michelle Menzies

Ms Menzies responded to the police claims saying the standards are “of a very high level” and that she believes the review of the license is to “suit the police shift patterns, staffing issues and budget restrictions”.

She said: “Any undue restrictions upon our trading hours I believe, as do other business owners, would bring catastrophic consequences to my business and others as clubbers would seek to leave Dereham for other venues.”

In describing the incidents of assault as “ugly”, Ms Menzies said she believes there are “peaks and troughs” in any business and added that Splitz is leading the way to address the issues raised

15 local businesses have written to Breckland Council expressing their concern about the license review, believing it would drive business out of the town.

Police first made contact with management at Splitz in December 2010, and said since then they have had concerns about the way in which the club is run.

The application, which was written on behalf of the Chief Constable of Norfolk Police, said: “It would seem that there is either not the willingness by staff to deal with potential trouble makers, or a failure to intervene early enough, or to spot when persons are displaying signs of drunkeness or agitation that then develop into violent altercations.”

Police say the club has the highest level of required police attendance in the town, with incidents such as assault resulting in a broken jaw, door staff being bitten and a police officer being punched.

The application stressed that a “continuance of such behaviour should not be tolerated”, and suggested the committee suspend the license for three months so that amendments can me made and implemented.

These include a new closing hour of 2.15am, more intensive security staff at the venue, no re-entry to the club after 1am, a CCTV system be fitted which meets the industry standard and a radio system between staff.

The meeting will be in the Anglia Room at Breckland Council in Dereham on May 9 at 9.30am.

Light Dragoons make their way into St Nicholas church following the Welcome Home parade. Picture: Matthew Usher. Light Dragoons make their way into St Nicholas church following the Welcome Home parade.

Picture: Matthew Usher.

Kathryn Cross1 Wednesday, December 5, 20122:05 PM

The manly sound of baritone voices engulfed the church of St Nicholas in Dereham for the thanksgiving service for the safe return of the Light Dragoons from their tour of Afghanistan.

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Around 350 troops packed into the church along with civic dignitaries, many wearing their chains of office, members of the Royal British Legion and a few family members following a memorable parade through the town.

After the presentation of the standards of the Royal British Legion and the Guidon, the regiment s military flag, the service was opened by Rev Canon Sally Theakston who said how proud the town was to have the Light Dragoons at the Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley. She also asked the congregation to remember those who had lost their lives or who had been injured in the pursuit of peace.

After a rousing rendition of Praise my soul the King of Heaven, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson read a passage from Ecclesiastes:3 before the second hymn O God our Help in Ages Past.

Lt Col Sam Plant, the regiment s commanding officer, read a passage from Ephesians:6 before the Rev Dr Allison, chaplain to the Light Dragoons, gave the address, saying it was not going to be a formal message, and then recalling an interview with two actors from the television show Dr Who.

Amy Pond and Rory were saying how part of their life was fighting daleks, flying around in a police box and dodging explosions, and the other half was answering telephones, eating and making decisions on normal day-to-day activities, he said. It hit on a real truth that we in the Light Dragoons lead two lives.

He said it was just as challenging for the soldiers coming home and adapting to a normal family routine as it was being in Afghanistan but that everyone at home and on tour had a role to play in bringing about peace and change.

Because you were there girls have gone to school, people have grown up, schools and hospitals have been built, communities have been able to build themselves up.

Peace has a chance because you were there.

The congregation then sang a very moving hymn I Vow to Thee my Country before members of the local clergy led the prayers.

During the final hymn, Now Thank we all our God, a collection was taken for the Light Dragoons charitable trust and the work of St Nicholas church.

The service closed with the return of the standards and the Guidon followed by the National Anthem.


References

  1. ^ Kathryn Cross (www.eveningnews24.co.uk)

Crowds packed Dereham Market Place to welcome home The Light Dragoons. Picture: Ian Burt Crowds packed Dereham Market Place to welcome home The Light Dragoons.

Picture: Ian Burt

Sophie Wyllie1 Wednesday, December 5, 20124:01 PM

The impressive turn out for the Light Dragoons homecoming parade in Dereham was described as spectacular and overwhelming by the regiment s commanding officer.

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Lt Col Sam Plant said at today s reception in the town s Memorial Hall: It has been amazing. It couldn t have gone better. The relationship between the Light Dragoons and the local community is very special indeed.

Not all regiments enjoy what we have here. We feel so privileged to enjoy days like we had today. It has been wonderful.

Some 400 people, the majority of whom were soldiers, were at the event which was attended by dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson.

A matching decanter and engraved bottle of port was presented to Lt Col Plant for the regiment and all 350 soldiers will be awarded a gold plated commemorative coin to mark the parade at a later date.

The coin was produced by Breckland Council and Norfolk County Council.

Light Dragoon trooper Dean Vann, 25, from Dereham, said the parade gave the regiment a massive sense of pride .

He added: We have realised that what we do out there is not unnoticed. There is a massive sense of achievement.

Mr Vann grew up in Norwich and studied at Hellesdon High School and joined the Light Dragoons aged 21.

He was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in March this year and during his time there he was the front man of a patrol unit.

It is very dangerous but we are making a big difference out there. The heat is exhausting, but it makes it worthwhile when you see communities being built and when people welcome you.

There are times when people don t welcome you but we are making a big influence there, he added.

Robin Goreham, Breckland Council chairman, said: I m very proud of the soldiers from Swanton Morley who have done us proud. They often have to make a very big sacrifice – sometimes they have to make the biggest sacrifice.

The soldiers are doing a fantastic job and they thoroughly deserve the reception and the support from the public out on the street, which was tremendous.

He was Dereham mayor when the Light Dragoons moved to the Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley 12 years ago.

Ian Monson, Norfolk County Council chairman, said it was an honour and a privilege to have the Light Dragoons based in the mid-Norfolk village.

He said: This is something the whole county can take part in. I m speaking on behalf of the whole county in welcoming them home.

This is something they deserve and something we should do.

I hope the soldiers enjoy the day.

Clearly there are more tough times ahead of them, but today is a day to show our appreciation of what they have done.

Mr Monson added: It has been a most magnificent turn out in the bitter cold, The school children were waving there flags and shouting their hearts out.

It was very moving and I was overwhelmed by the support that this town and Norfolk has given today.


References

  1. ^ Sophie Wyllie (www.eveningnews24.co.uk)

Today after the Light Dragoons welcome home parade in Dereham town centre yesterday it has been revealed that the majority of locals are up in arms against Breckland Council.

Although the local community supports the troops and the extremely dangerous conditions of operations in Afghanistan, local residents are disappoint with Breckland Council who decided to award every soldier a gold coin just for marching through the town yesterday.

At a time of deep cuts, major unemployment in the local area, increased tax bills and higher living costs, plus reduced elderly care in the community it is seen to be unbelievable that local councillors would use tax payers money this way. Giving the Light Dragoons regiment the “freedom of Dereham town” was seen by the residents as a good will gesture but considering Breckland Council cannot find the money to repair desperately needed public toilets on Cowper Road car park, resolve the overdue planning for new bus parking in town centre or improve the town centre infrastructure it is deemed a great insult to local residents by using council money to fund gold coins.

It is currently understood that plans are underway for a local partition, plus the naming and shaming of local councillors who supported the idea, which to make matters worse the ill conceived copycat idea seems only to have originated because the local council of Diss, gave the Royal Anglian Regiment freedom of their town a few months back.


Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman holding a constituency surgery at the Light Dragoons, Robertson Barracks, Swanton Morley in 2011.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman holding a constituency surgery at the Light Dragoons, Robertson Barracks, Swanton Morley in 2011.

Light Dragoons welcome home parade: George Freeman MP s letter of thanks to the regiment

Martin George1
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
2:32 PM

Dear Colonel Plant

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has written to Lieutenant Colonel Sam Plant, commanding officer of the Light Dragoons, to express his constituents gratitude to the soldiers, service families and staff at the Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley. This is the text of his letter. I wanted to write as Member of Parliament for Mid Norfolk in advance of your forthcoming Homecoming Parade to put on record this area s deep gratitude for your Regiment s service.

We are privileged in Mid Norfolk to be home to the Light Dragoons and I know how deeply proud the people of Mid Norfolk are of the Regiment. The Dragoons courage and professionalism in the recent tours of Helmand is a testament not only to this Regiment, but to the British Armed Forces as a whole. At your Homecoming Parade in Dereham on the 5th December, I am sure the full extent of the local community s support and pride in the connection with the Dragoons will be evident to you all.

On behalf of myself and all the constituents of Mid Norfolk, please pass on my sincerest thanks and warmest best wishes to all soldiers, service families and staff at Swanton Morley.

Yours sincerely

George Freeman

References

  1. ^ Martin George (www.edp24.co.uk)

Hundreds of young school children abandon their warm classrooms and line the streets of Dereham to watch the Light Dragoons march through the town, local children stood for hours braving the bitterly bone chilling winds of a drab overcast December day for a fleeting glimpse of the brief 30 minute march pasts of the Light Dragoons regiment.

Unlike the many other welcome home parades in the native towns of the Light Dragoons witnessed by thousands of well-wishers in warm late autumn sunshine, Norfolk school children endured freezing temperatures and a glacial tempered wind to watch the soldiers march into Dereham.

It is hoped soldiers will really appreciate the efforts of local youngsters for showing their support  and enthusiasm during a freezing cold December day, as 150 members from the Light Dragoons taking part in the parade gave the gathering a memorable display as wispy snow drifted past the towns Christmas decorations setting a very pleasant festive scene, topped by the towns shorter than usual seasonal tree, and poetically referenced by a well-wisher, that the short but somewhat plump Christmas tree greatly matched some of the serving officers that where taking the mornings regimental salute.

The Light Dragoons have been stationed in Norfolk for almost twelve years and have just returned in early October from a six month active duty tour of Afghanistan, and value all the local support shown to them during this period, the parade however will be the last as the regiment now braces itself for major restructuring and down grading due to the next round of military cutbacks to be officially announced in the early part of next year.

Following the regimental downgrade and amalgamation with other similar cavalry regiments stationed in the north, the closer of Robinson Barracks at Swanton Morley is expected to be announced sometime during the end of next year bring to a close of over a decade, of close connections with the local community.

 

Dereham schoolchildren ready to greet the Light Dragoons regiment being granted the freedom of the town. The soldiers from The Light Dragoons Regiment were greeted by warm applause by the hundreds of spectators gathered in Dereham Market Place. The Battalion was inspected by Dereham councillors while the band kept the crowd entertained with a series of big band tunes, including the Raiders March made famous as the theme tune for the film Indiana Jones.

After each tune, another burst of cheers and applause rippled around the packed Market Place, which was bathed in warm winter sunshine. The mayor gave a speech welcoming the troops and praising their efforts in helping to establish good government in Afghanistan. He said: On behalf of the town council and the town and county, may I wish you a warm welcome to Dereham.

We are very honoured to see you and have followed your exploits with great interest. We are proud of the regiment and the jobs you do on our behalf. We applaud your efforts in support of local governments in Helmand province.

Local trade and commerce also praised the Light Dragoons for the support the military base at Swanton Morley gives to the local community in an area that without their presence would rises to greater unemployment in a very challenging region.

Spokesman for the Light Dragoons commented on the local turnout, in the market town decked with Christmas decorations ready for the festive season, adding although this year the town Christmas tree seems somewhat shorter than usual, jesting the Breckland Council were clearly cutting back with their sharp saws.

The Regiment s thanked the town council for bestowing the honour on the Regiment and spoke about the vital role the soldiers had played in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for granting the Regiment the Freedom of Dereham.

Light Dragoons have been granted the freedom of Dereham town as a show of appreciation for the 12 years the regiment has been stationed at Swanton Morley and as a farewell gesture from the local community before the regiment is downgraded following the next ground of defense cutbacks to be implemented by the ministry of defense.

With full freedom status being granted to the Dragoons they are now able to march through the town with their bayonets fixed – and Mr Duigan joked it could be a “double edged sword.” Following a ban on members of the regiment using parts of the main town center, after several violent incidents of serving members threating local residents the ban has been enforce for most of this year restricting service personnel access to the town but with this gesture it is expected greater close relations with local residents will be formed.

The parade will start at 11am and about 150 members of the regiment will march on a route along Norwich Street, Cowper Road, Wellington Road, Market Place and Church Street to a service at St Nicholas’s Church. A fly-past is planned by 31 Squadron from RAF Marham as a final fairwell gester before the new cutbacks come into force next year.

Later, as usual there will be a reception for selected soldiers and VIPs at the Memorial Hall.

Posters advertising the parade have been produced and shops and businesses are being asked to display them in their windows. They have pictures on them taken by the servicemen in Afghanistan.

Anyone with questions can contact the event team at Breckland Council on 01362 656330 or email communications@breckland.gov.uk

The army regiment has been based at Robertson Barracks at nearby Swanton Morley for 12 years and the special friendship with local people has flourished.

Hundreds of people are expected to line the town’s streets for a homecoming parade following the regiment’s six-month tour of Afghanistan.

It is expected that a regimental ban that has been enforce barring the soldiers from major areas of Dereham town centre for most of this year, following incidents involving members of the regiment  will shortly be lifted, enabling town councillors to further  discuss and offer  the Light Dragoons full honours and freedom of the town.

Councillor Phillip Duigan came up with the idea of giving the Light Dragoons freedom of the town after hearing that Diss had done the same for the Royal Anglians.

Members will have to have a special meeting later this month to approve the idea and ensure the army is happy to accept.

Mr Duigan said: “It would show that the people of Dereham appreciate the hard work and commitment the Light Dragoons have shown us. It would be a nice symbolic show of support and they have done a very good job on tour in Afghanistan.

 “Most people in the town would like to show our appreciation in some way.”

If freedom status is granted, the Dragoons would be able to march through the town with their bayonets fixed – and Mr Duigan joked it could be a “double edged sword”.

The parade will start at 11am and around 150 members of the regiment will march on a route along Norwich Street, Cowper Road, Wellington Road, Market Place and Church Street to a service at St Nicholas’s Church. A flypast is planned by 31 Squadron from RAF Marham.