REVIEW 2015: From Prince Charles's electric bill to Finchingfield bridge campaign
PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 January 2016
It’s been a busy year and time has flown by once again. ABIGAIL WEAVING looks back over the past 12 months to give some of the highlights from the area.
A Broadcast-backed campaign helped raise more than £10,000 to fund treatment for four-year-old Olivia Bowyer after her family were told if she was not walking by five, she may never start. The money went towards intense physiotherapy for the youngster. A year on, Olivia is at school, walking and running.
Residents in Great Canfield, Little Dunmow, High Roding, and Felsted were up in arms after a series of break-ins and shed thefts and were considering protesting outside Dunmow Police Station about the lack of action.
The landlord of the Prince of Wales pub in Broxted received a letter addressed to Prince Charles regarding an unpaid gas bill. Terry Gaskin, 57, said at first he thought it was a joke, but the letter from British Gas demanding £1,773.30 from Prince Charles appeared to be real.
Work got underway at Stansted Airport for an £8million revamp to improve facilities at Satellite One, a departure area for international flights.
The Broadcast reported that Dunmow’s two doctors’ surgeries could be replaced by an out-of-town health hub. Councillor Vic Ranger said it would stop people having to travel elsewhere for services.
Felsted father-of-four Charlie Pitcher, 51, who had set a new record for rowing across the Atlantic, announced plans to attempt an unassisted solo circumnavigation of Great Britain in a rowing boat in another world record bid. On July 1, after 31 days, he said he had abandoned the bid because of bad weather.
County councillor Susan Barker lobbied for Dunmow High Street to be considered in the 2015/16 Town Centre Footway Project, run by Essex Highways. The campaign came after pavements on the road needed repairing, and other towns like Braintree benefitted from the £1million scheme last year.
It was announced that Princess Anne would visit Manuden, near Stansted, during the month to cut the ribbon to an affordable housing development. Councillor Julie Redfearn said the visit was “a fitting way to acknowledge the work in the ground-breaking project”.
Residents in Takeley were locked in a bitter feud with Uttlesford District Council after it allowed a developer to cut down trees in the village. Resident Natalie Sullivan slammed the council’s handling of the case, as “disturbing and confusing”.
A medical student who was in Nepal when the earthquake hit spoke to the Broadcast about his ordeal. Rakesh Khunti, whose parents Ashok and Devi own Guildhall Stores in Thaxted, was just about to leave for the airport when it struck. He landed safely back in the UK a few nights later.
Private school the FKS School in Felsted announced it was closing in July. Owner Valerie Lipman said she was retiring and that, despite trying to sell the school, economical challenges meant it had to close. Dunmow Town Council pledged its support to employ paid workers at the town’s youth centre for the first time since cuts. The centre used to run five sessions a week, but was cut down to one a fortnight.
Local Food (& More!), a volunteer-led eco-friendly community heritage site in Little Canfield, was given £25,700 in Heritage Lottery Funding. The money would help restore an historic barn on their site.
A disused school in Stansted was deemed an eyesore and dangerous site by villager Daniel Brett as, despite CCTV cameras having been installed, it was a hotspot for vandalism and arson attempts.
A 40 foot-long wall in Dunmow was destroyed after a rubbish lorry crashed into it while a couple were having afternoon tea. The lorry, which came from the nearby Uttlesford District Council’s refuse vehicles depot, was unable to make the narrow turn by Jenny and Frank Poulton’s house.
Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, said the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s, proposal for a second runway at Stansted was “quite eccentric”. He added: “He has a sovereign right to say that [he has a constituency interest in the issue] and I have a sovereign right to tell him he’s wrong.”
Little Dunmow and Stansted celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on June 15. Six of the 24 rebel barons who forced King John to put his seal on the document in 1215 came from Essex, and Little Dunmow was the seat of rebel leader Robert FitzWalter.
A paddle of ducklings was rescued by firefighters on May 28 after being found stuck down a drain in Takeley. Four manhole covers were lifted in an attempt to reunite the fluffy family, and the entire road was blocked off.
A Dunmow man set up the world’s first-ever grilled cheese subscription service. Cheese Postie, run by Danny Jennings and business partner Dave Rotheroe, was inspired by snack delivery service Graze, and the first deliveries were sent out in August.
The clock at the Church of the Holy Cross in Felsted was given a long-awaited facelift, thanks to fundraising by resident George Bellingham-Smith. Altogether, £7,547 was raised, including donations from villagers, the Felsted Events Committee, the parish council, Stansted Airport Community Trust and Essex Heritage.
A 19-year-old from Debden Green achieved the fastest swimming time in his category at the European Paratriathlon Championships on July 10.
George Peasgood swam 750 metres, cycled 20 kilometres and ran five more in just one hour, one minute and 50 seconds.
Nina Haket and Austin Hodge bagged 22 A*s and three A’s between them on GCSE results day on August 20. Helena Romanes School, where the two studied, achieved a 100 per cent pass rate.
Police warned van owners after a spate of tool thefts in Uttlesford. In some cases, thousands of pounds worth of tools were stolen, with thieves using “specialised equipment” to get into vehicles.
Residents rescued the opening of Stansted’s new skate park after vandals poured oil over its ramps. Residents, the parish council clerk and fire-fighters helped with the clear up, delaying the ceremony by just 20 minutes.
Councillor Julie Redfern, the head of housing for Uttlesford, wrote to Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, expressing concern about the Housing Bill. Uttlesford would be forced to sell off council housing above a certain price as soon as it became vacant, leaving the district with only sheltered accommodation in its general needs stock.
Cuts of £60million to Essex Police were announced in September, with 1,200 officers being lost. Essex police chief Stephen Kavanagh said the pattern of crime was changing and that local authorities would have to deal with minor issues in the future.
More than £5,000 worth of damage was done to a children’s play area in Takeley after repeated vandalism. Over a dozen incidents had occured since the playground had a £32,000 refurbishment just three years earlier.
A lorry crashed into a funeral directors in Finchingfield on October 27, leaving the bridge shut for a week. The closure was felt in nearby villages and increased concerns about four month long repair work to the bridge next year.
Plans for a new primary school in Great Dunmow were given the go-ahead, with its doors set to open in September 2018. Sited on the Smith’s Farm development, the school will have 210 places and will cost £6.2 million to build.
Great Dunmow’s police station announced it was closing after just seven years of serving the community. The purpose-built facility cost £7.5million and was shut to make “unprecedented savings”, according to the force.
Finchingfield residents hoped their campaign for a temporary bridge would be strengthened after finding a 2010 council report recommending one. The village’s bridge is due to be widened, but Essex County Council says drivers will have to take a 15-mile detour. The discussion was battled out at a heated town meeting on November 17, with County Councillor Eddie Jones saying he would reconsider options.
More than 400 people attended the Remembrance Day service in Dunmow, including Maurice Saich, president of Dunmow Royal British Legion, who also served in the navy in the Second World War.
After a donation request, Great Dunmow Round Table bought a £2,800 specialist wheelchair for seven-year-old Joshua Desmond, who has cerebral palsy. Joshua can now sit up and move from room to room independently. His mother, Victoria, said: “Joshua says the chair is good and he is smiling a lot. This has changed our lives.”
Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, said he supported the bombing of ISIS in Syria, ahead of the vote in Westminster on December 2. He said: “Those brave enough to fight these barbaric people may be getting reinforced courage by western powers showing they are in their side.”
Uttlesford District Council published a map of potential sites for development, including settlements at Great Chesterford and Dunmow.