Here's what happened in November 2017:

TAKE That made a surprise appearance at The Mayflower in Southampton to bring down the curtain on the spectacular new musical featuring their hits, writes Nick Osman. Excitement had already reached fever pitch in the auditorium as the opening night of The Band drew to a close in true musical theatre tradition with a mass sing and dance-along to the boy band’s greatest hits. With every member of the sold-out audience already on their feet in raucous celebration, from nowhere, a nonchalant Mark Owen appeared centre stage to deafening screams. The arrival of the remainder of the current Take That trio, Gary Barlow and Howard Donald, pretty much raised the roof. The unexpected appearance was enough to send the already excited audience wild. They joined the cast to belt out a medley of numbers including Let It Shine, Never Forget and Hold Up A Light.

MEMBERS of a gang that shipped millions of pounds worth of cocaine into Southampton received prison sentences totalling nearly 25 years. A nine-month investigation into the gang was carried out by Hampshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Team. Officers observed the gang, who were all in the UK illegally, between September 2016 and April 2017, Southampton Crown Court heard. Nuri Mucmataj, Bekim Halilaj, Fitim Halilaj and Tamas Hela, all from Albania, were finally caught when officers raided an Astra van in Southampton which contained cocaine with a street value of £140,000 and £30,000 in cash. They had shipped class A drugs worth £4 million into the city.

THE number of sick and injured patients in the south waiting more than 30 minutes in an ambulance outside hospital before being transferred to A&E has increased by a third in the last two years, new figures revealed. According to NHS England, patients should be transferred from an ambulance to an A&E within 15 minutes. However, figures for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which serves Hampshire, revealed that the number had risen from 9,445 in 2014/2015 to 12,607 in 2016/2017. A Department of Health spokesperson said: “In the face of huge increases in demand, our paramedics and call-handlers are working exceptionally hard and answering 4,500 more 999 calls every day compared with five years ago.”

MORE than 2,400 Southampton pupils were set to benefit from an £8m upgrade for three of the city’s “crumbling” schools. Regent’s Park Community College, Sholing Technology College and St George’s Catholic College were in line to have state-of-the-art science labs, resource centres and sports pitches rebuilt in a bid to bring the crumbling buildings up to date. It came after years of begging by head teachers and 12 months after children were banned from using one building when it was deemed too dangerous to use. Leaking roofs and inadequate drainage systems had seen one school flooded while the increase in school numbers meant pupils were being squeezed into buildings too small for current class sizes.

A HAMPSHIRE man whose son and grandson were arrested on suspicion of murdering Gaia Pope described the teenager’s death as “absolutely tragic”. Greg Elsey, whose ex-wife Rosemary was also arrested on suspicion of murder, added: “My heart goes out to her family.” He spoke out after 19-year-old Gaia’s body was found near Swanage in Dorset – 11 days after she went missing. Mr Elsey criticised detectives involved in the investigation, accusing them of a witch-hunt against his family. He spoke out after 71-year-old Rosemary, Nathan, 19, and Paul, a 49-year-old carpenter, were all taken into custody in a matter of days and then released by police under investigation. They were later cleared after police ruled no one else was involved in Gaia’s death.

UNIVERSITY of Southampton bosses are paying out more than £100,000 a year to keep scaffolding and netting around an “eyesore” tower block, the Daily Echo revealed. But there are still no plans to convert or demolish former student block, South Stoneham Tower, which has been unoccupied for eight years. Civic chiefs were demanding the university takes action, describing the 16-storey building as a “blot” on the city. The metal support has been on the building for more than five years which means it has cost the university at least £500,000 on scaffolding fees alone. The cost was revealed less than a week after university bosses announced plans to make 75 academic roles redundant.

IT WAS the end of an era as demolition work began on the ill-fated Bargate Centre in Southampton. Wrecking crews moved in on the derelict 1980s shopping complex, which had been boarded up since 2013. Civic chiefs and staff from developer Bargate Property Ltd watched as a 150ft demolition claw began pulling off chunks of the car park. It came ahead of a £100m overhaul of the site. Once completed, the new area will include shops and restaurants, accommodation for 450 students, 140 apartments and the creation of 200 jobs. It will open up more of Southampton’s historic walls, which council leader Simon Letts described as the city’s “hidden treasures”.