REVIEW 2015: From Prince Charles's electric bill to Michelle Obama
PUBLISHED: 09:00 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.
The Prince of Wales pub in Broxted received a letter addressed to Prince Charles over an unpaid gas bill of £1,773.30, much to the amusement of its punters. Terry Gaskin, who runs the pub, originally thought it was a joke, and British Gas said the letter had been sent in error.
Waitrose re-opened after a nine-day hiatus in preparation for its expansion work. The project was completed in September with MP for Saffron Walden, Sir Alan Haselhurst cutting the ribbon alongside three employees who had worked at the store for 30 years.
Addenbrooke’s and the Princess Alexandra Hospital announced emergency patients should seek treatment elsewhere following a bout of busy periods. A Facebook group was then set up called Saffron Walden Community Hospital should have an emergency dept, with 228 members. FEBRUARY
The former singing teacher of musical sensation Sam Smith told the Reporter how proud she was watching him pick up four Grammy awards. Joanna Eden taught the singer at her home in Saffron Walden, and said “It’s wonderful for Sam to have the affirmation of the awards – he hears it a lot but to have them in one hand is a validation of how good he is.”
Essex County Council approved plans for more than £700,000 to be spent on expanding RA Butler Academy in Saffron Walden. The money meant the school could add a new library, classrooms and extra car parking space.
Saffron Walden’s cycling café Bicicletta announced it was just weeks away from opening. The former florist shop site was transformed into a “hang-out” space which offers a cycling shop, refreshments and the sport on a big screen TV. MARCH
A bid to revitalise Saffron Walden Town Hall under a proposed £2.5million Heritage Lottery Fund scheme was rejected. The plan had included installation of interactive maps, a new theatre bar and improved accessibility.
A traffic map from Residents for Uttlesford claimed that motorists in Saffron Walden could face more than three miles of traffic within five years. Based on a report by Kier Homes, the map showed the result of new planned housing developments.
Jo Bradshaw from Great Chishill headed off to Nepal on March 29 to complete her challenge of being the first British woman to scale two of the world’s highest mountains in one trip – Everest and Lhotse. The earthquake struck while she was in the acclimatisation stage though, and members of her team died during the ordeal. She flew home a few days later. APRIL
The proposal for a 20mph speed limit throughout Saffron Walden was announced to be up for consideration at the council meeting on April 9. Medieval streets in particular were deemed in need of the system. Although then-mayor Sandra Eden called for only partial 20 mph speed limits. Saffron Walden Town Hall raised its rental rates by up to 200 per cent in some cases. Community organisations said they felt they were being priced out of using the venue for regular meetings. Then town clerk Gordon Mussett defended the move, saying it was a “commercial decision”.
A medical student who was in Nepal when the earthquake hit spoke to the Reporter 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. MAY
For the first time since its opening in 1951, Saffron Walden County High appointed its first female headteacher – Caroline Derbyshire. Ms Derbyshire spent the last ten years running Linton Village College and will take up the new role in January.
The General Election results saw the Conservatives hold onto a majority in the district, but with the Residents for Uttlesford as their new opposition.
With no guide price, Saffron Walden’s Grade II-listed water tower was put on sale with Bidwells of Chelmsford. Built in 1913 for the Borough of Saffron Walden Water Works, the property features four floors, and iron and timber staircases. JUNE
Uttlesford District Council rejected two major appeals by building developers to erect over 400 new homes in Saffron Walden and Thaxted. A pavilion building and primary school were also suggested, but it was feared the impact on agricultural land and levels of congestion would be too great.
The Reporter caught a glimpse of America’s First Lady Michelle Obama as she touched down at Stansted Airport to promote the Let Girls Learn initiative. Five-year-old Scott Riester said: “She was beautiful and amazing. I gave her a handshake and a high-five ... but only a soft one.”
Roman bones discovered in Saffron Walden’s Debden Road were handed over to the town’s museum. Found at a building development, the bones were analysed by a field archaeology expert at Essex County Council who said they were human from “beyond living memory”. JULY
Saffron Walden landscaping company TKE Landscaping was building a garden for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in just 18 days; a job which normally takes six weeks. Working for 13 hours a day, the company was asked to build a Victorian-style garden for the world’s largest flower show.
The village of Widdington was in uproar after Royal Mail announced it was relocating their postman to another round. Widdington’s postman for 13 years, Bill Banner was even chained to the village sign in an act of protest, led by parish council chairman Cathie Southcott.
The Reporter kept track of all-female rowing team The Coxless Crew as they journeyed more than 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. Isabel Burnham from Saffron Walden made up part of the foursome, which was just hours from reaching Hawaii. So far they have raised more than £20,000, with proceeds going to Breast Cancer Care and Walking with the Wounded. AUGUST
Holidaymakers were left stranded after Saffron Walden travel company DSC Limited went into liquidation. Three families reportedly arrived at their villas and were unable to get in after rent payments on the properties stopped.
Residents rescued the opening of Stansted’s new skate park after vandals poured oil over its ramps. Residents, the parish council clerk and even firefighters helped with the clear up, delaying the ceremony by just 20 minutes.
Triplets at Saffron Walden County High School achieved a staggering 33 A* and A grades after GCSE results were released on August 20. Adam, Hollie and Ellie Langworthy have now gone on to study their A-Levels at the school. SEPTEMBER
Cuts of £60million to Essex Police were announced in September, with fears that the town’s police station might close. Although Saffron Walden’s station was saved, Essex police chief Stephen Kavanagh said the pattern of crime is changing.
Staff at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge were rated outstanding, while the hospital was deemed ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission on September 22. Issues included delayed appointments, cancelled operations and staff shortages.
Amid Battle of Britain flypast celebrations, the Reporter gained exclusive access to The Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford through Saffron Walden engineer Arun Khatri. Arun, below, has built a career caring for veteran warbirds, including the N3200 Spitfire donated to the museum by Prince William. OCTOBER
Saffron Walden bus routes were to be given the biggest shake-up in decades following plans from Essex County Council.
The Ear, Nose and Throat clinic at Saffron Walden Hospital announced it was closing earlier than expected, forcing patients to travel to Cambridge for treatment. Author Mike Revell used his childhood memories of Audley End and Great Chesterford to help him create his first children’s novel Stonebird, which was ranked as one of the best children’s books of 2015 by Booklist magazine.
Fourteen new homes at The Clover Field Development in Clavering were left without electricity or a phone line, leaving the new residents virtually uncontactable.
Primary schools in Saffron Walden said they were starting to turn pupils away because they were full. A new school will be built by 2018, but many headteachers say this is too long to wait.
The 70th anniversary of the Second World War was commemorated in Saffron Walden with a two-minute silence and a parade led by former Lancaster rear gunner Ron Liversage and Royal Navy serviceman John Craig. DECEMBER
A Wendens Ambo man set a new Guinness World Record for running the fastest half marathon while pushing a double buggy. Martin Steer ran the Stevenage Half Marathon while ferrying his twins Luke and Nathan along the way. His record time was one hour and 56 minutes.
Another world record achievement might be on the books after 104-year-old George Atkinson walked his grand-daughter down the aisle in Thaxted on December 5. The Guinness World Records confirmed it had received the application, and was awaiting evidence to verify the claim.