Chills and thrills for New Year

The recession may still be biting and the weather may have been cold and icy but publicans - and the emergency services - reported a busy New Year's Eve.

The recession may still be biting and the weather may have been cold and icy but publicans - and the emergency services - reported a busy New Year's Eve.

The East of England Ambulance Service reported a much higher number of calls than normal between midnight and 7am on Friday as sub-zero temperatures brought more snow and ice across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire it was called to 610 incidents, a 27pc increase on the figure of 481 for last New Year's Eve. On a typical Friday or Saturday night it would expect about 170 calls.

A spokesman said ambulances were called to a number of mainly minor road traffic collisions and to an increased number of assaults and falls, some of which were believed to be alcohol-related.

Norfolk police dealt with nearly 400 emergency calls over the night but said there had been no serious road collisions or cases of public disorder.

In Suffolk the number of incidents reported to police was up slightly on last year's tally. There were extra patrols out and about in towns and villages and most of the trouble dealt was down to drunk and disorderly behaviour.

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Although many people opted to celebrate at home, licensees across Norfolk reported a brisk trade.

Mark Robinson enjoyed a successful first New Year's Eve as landlord at the King's Head on Norwich Street, Dereham.

“We were very, very busy considering we'd chosen not to put on any entertainment and instead be the quieter pub where people could come without paying admission,” he said.

“The town was ticking over nicely and I wasn't aware of any major issues. Everything went well and there were plenty of people about - and then the weather kicked in and calmed everyone down."

Linda Morgan, landlady of Delaney's Irish Bar in Norwich, said: “We had a lot of people in and there was an excellent atmosphere. We had a much better Christmas than last year.”

The Troll Cart, off Regent Road in Great Yarmouth, saw a rise in customers from 9.30pm as people started to gather to celebrate.

And at about 12.30am there were about 80 revellers still enjoying themselves in the pub, run by the J D Wetherspoon chain.

Nick Skerritt, landlord of the King William IV at Sedgeford, near Hunstanton, said: "We were packed out. We did 94 set menus, every table was taken and all our bedrooms were full as well.

“It's just as well: the six days leading up to Christmas wiped me out with all the snow. I had so many cancellations I needed a good New Year.”

Tony Blyth, manager of The Two Brewers in Diss, said: “It was busy up until just before midnight, so I closed up and went out myself. The afternoon was busier than the evening.”

Chris Bell of Weatherquest predicted the cold snap would continue into the middle of next week. “It will stay very cold with daytime temperatures of between 1C and 3C and overnight temperatures of minus 2C to minus 4C.

“There will be a continuation of the snow showers during Friday and Saturday, although Sunday may be a drier day. It will be snowy again on Monday. Because there is not much warmth to the sun it's possible that there could be two, three or even four inches of snow built up in places.”

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