Bexley 2017 - review of the year

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 January 2018

DECEMBER: YoungMinds supporters taking on a sponsored 600-mile bike ride across Europe. Picture: Coral Jones

DECEMBER: YoungMinds supporters taking on a sponsored 600-mile bike ride across Europe. Picture: Coral Jones


Looking back at the stories in Bexley over the past 12 months.

APRIL: Mayor of Bexley Eileen Pallen, with Morleys managing director David Hordle, cutting the ribbon to officially open the new Morleys store. Picture: Mayor of Bexley Eileen Pallen, with Morleys managing director David Hordle, cutting the ribbon to officially open the new Morleys store. Picture:


Police looking for 85-year-old missing pensioner Brian Smart start an investigation to see if he could have been found earlier than the 15 months it took to find his body.

His son Mark, who lived nearby, was critical of the police asking why it took so long.

Mr Smart was last seen at Bluewater. Even a £10,000 reward didn’t help. His body was found in Bostall Woods.

APRIL: Work began to transform Belvedere Splash Park.APRIL: Work began to transform Belvedere Splash Park.

London’s fire chief retires.
 Ron Dobson, from Sidcup, was one of the first on the scene after the Canary Wharf bomb blast in 1996.

Businesses in Bexley are found to be paying staff too little. The New Policy Institute said a third of jobs were under the £9.75 living wage.


There are protests against building homes at Old Farm Park, Sidcup which the Mayor of London supports, calling it a “disgrace”.

The Crossrail development with its Elizabeth line helps the value of homes in Abbey Wood soar by more than £100,000. The line will link south east London to Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Sport stars of the future have a boost when Crystal Palace Football Club and London South East Colleges link to come up with a pioneering programme leading to a recognised vocational qualification.

Lord Heseltine wants to set up a creative production district along the Thames with the Thames Estuary Growth Commission. It would transform the area into an internationally-renowned centre for major creative production facilities.


Police investigate after a handcuffed man dies in custody. He had been found collapsed in High Street, Welling, and had become aggressive.

The new £1 coin costs the council £12,500 in slot adjustments.

It is train route franchise time and there is news of a big shakeup with local MP James Brokenshire called for an “urgent” change.


Belvedere bishop Benjamin Egbujoy, 55, is jailed for 
molesting an underage teenage girl. The court is told it was done “under the guise of private prayer”.

Work finally begins to transform the troubled Belvedere Splash Park which has been closed since 2014 amid concerns over recycled water quality. It is to become Belvedere Beach Playground.

It is announced 31,000 new homes and 17,500 jobs are to be created in a council plan but residents are told it will take years.

Morleys department store cuts its ribbon in the old BHS premises, Bexleyheath and 1,000 shoppers pour in.


The Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup gets a clean bill of health when inspectors say it has dramatically improved during the year. It is rated as “good”.

The Care Quality Commission says the Oxleas NHS Foundation trust still needd improvement. Trust chairman Andy Trotter said the new rating reflects “hard work and commitment across the whole organisation”.

There are worries the council’s litter contractors were boasting about handing out fines “like Smarties” following a Panorama investigation.

There were claims of extra bonuses being handed out for extra tickets dished out.

Bexley’s Sir Roger Moore dies aged 89. He’d spent much of time in the borough forging an acting career that saw him take on the most iconic of roles as James Bond.


There is anger at plans to build 60 homes on Old Farm Park with campaigners told to pipe down during a rowdy council meeting because councillors could not be clearly heard in the crowded public gallery.

Public worries that 44 per cent of burglaries in the borough remained unsolved promptsd police to act. The Met says “more needs to be done” to lock burglars up.

The former partner of murdered EastEnders star Sian Blake, is told he’ll die in prison after losing an appeal for his whole life sentence.

Arthur Simpson-Kent killed her along with their two boys in fear she was leaving him.


An inquest into the Camber Sands horror when seven men drowned returns verdicts of misadventure. Five men from Welling and Erith were among those who died when sandbars are believed to have caught them out as the tide came in. An expert said they were playing a ball game far off shore and may not have been aware of the fast approaching tide.

A rise in dog attacks on posties in DA and SE postcode bucks the national trend and sparks a warning to owners to keep their pets under control. The rise is 50 per cent up to 12.

Bexley Council warns of a £12m budget black hole as government support drops another £21m. The authority says it faces “a real challenge”.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, Bexley gives local high rises the all-clear. But still three 13-storey buildings could be demolished and replaced with 280 new homes.


There are worries after the sudden death of 50 carp at Danson Park. The public is warned not to touch dead fish over fears of a “serious disease” in the water. The alert lasts weeks.

A dozen men are sentenced for their part in growing cannabis on “an industrial scale” in Rochester in 2013. Among them are men from Abbey Wood and Thamesmead. Police had found almost 10,000 plants at several commercial units capable of producing drugs worth £16m.

Notorious road rage killer Kenneth Noye is moved to an open prison.

Bexleyheath-born Noye killed Stephen Cameron on an M25 slip road in 2000. He had been previously jailed for his part in the Brinks Matt bullion robbery and cleared of murdering an undercover cop Noye found on his land.

The Ministry of Justice said the decision was made “after a thorough, expert, risk assessment”.


Land at Broadway where the former civic centre stood sees plans announced for a seven-storey apartment block and 500 homes. The council moved out in 2014 and the land was bought by Tesco which then sold it to Sports Direct who sold it to Bellway Homes.

Queen Mary’s Hospital celebrates 100 years. It was built to be a pioneer in plastic surgery for the wounded brought back from the front lines during the First World War.

Uplands Primary school unveils a £1.5m expansion to cope with an extra intake of 100 more children. It includes new classrooms, kitchen and a meeting room.


A Sidcup man who used a cement mixer to produce chicken kebab meat, is jailed. It led to 12 tonnes of the meat being destroyed before it reached any more takeaways.

Sevenoaks Council says the case constituted “one of the most serious breaches of food safety laws we have ever come across”.

Sukru Ahmet is jailed for four months.

It is 30 years since the Great Storm of 1997 hit the south east. Like just about everywhere, Bexley suffered damage to trees, vehicles and property and saw transport networks disrupted on a large scale.

Skies turn orange for a while thanks to dust from Storm Ophelia.


Bexleyheath Police Station is saved after the Mayor of London finally bows to local pressure. Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett said: “I am glad the London mayor listened and dropped his proposal. It is a real victory for local people and common sense.” The fight included an 8,000-strong petition.

A report said the Met looked again and “has come to the view that in order to avoid operational risk to the delivery of services in the future” it should remain open.

Plans are revealed to turn Slade Green Football Club’s ground into an estate of seven apartment blocks providing 240 homes.

And there is talk of splitting Welling into three in a dramatic shake-up of boundaries.

The M25 cat killer, said to have killed 375, is thought to have struck in Welling after a headless corpse was found. Tony Jenkins from campaign group Snarl said the incident left a family “devastated”.


Thirteen friends and family from Bexleyheath raise £21,700 after cycling across seven countries in seven days. They money will go to mental health charity YoungMinds.

Bexley Council announces the closure of plastic and carton recycling sites across the borough due to “severe contamination” over an extended period. People who put the wrong items in the banks were costing the council to sort out the non-recyclable waste.

A sharp increase in burglaries targeting Bexley’s Indian community is reported.

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