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Bexley review of the year: July and August

PUBLISHED: 17:30 29 December 2012

July: former boxer Lennox Lewis with the Olympic torch in Bexley

July: former boxer Lennox Lewis with the Olympic torch in Bexley

Archant

In the fourth of a six-part series between now and New Year’s Eve, we look back at the stories that made the headlines in Bexley in 2012. It was quite a year for the borough.

August: the former Black Horse pub site, where a Waitrose had been due to be builtAugust: the former Black Horse pub site, where a Waitrose had been due to be built

July

More than 70,000 people saw the Olympic torch come to Bexley in glorious sunshine on Sunday afternoon.

Aaron Reynolds, 18, was the first person to carry the flame on to Bexley soil at Erith Yacht Club to rapturous applause. He has been a member of the club since he was four and travelled with the flame across the Thames via speedboat.

The torch made its way past Hall Place, through Bexleyheath and towards Danson Park, where former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis lit the cauldron in front of a 20,000-strong crowd.

Aaron said: “Carrying the torch into Bexley truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It’s great to be here and shows the hard work of the club, which is receiving Olympic legacy funding, has paid off.”

The borough had 31 torchbearers for the eight- mile route including the boxing champ.

Mr Lewis, who won Olympic gold representing Canada in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and lived in Crayford in the late 1980s, said: “This is a great area with wonderful people. It’s an honour to light the torch here and I was almost floating when I carried it up to the stage.

“This is right up there with winning the heavyweight title, and the energy of the crowd made it a great occasion to be part of.”

An evening celebration hosted by Olympic sponsors took place before and after the end of the relay in Danson Park.

Hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks and Britain’s Got Talent runners-up dancers Twist and Pulse, who hail from Bexley, were the star attractions.

Torchbearer Len Arnold, co-owner of the Europa Centre in Crayford which is getting Olympic legacy cash, said: “This is unbelieavble. I want to thank every single person for coming out. I was very, very lucky to have been chosen.”

Erith Yacht Club Commodore Geoff Piggott said: “This is a landmark in the club’s 112 year history. The day went really well after months and months of preparation.”

Also this month:

A North Cray nursery was closed without notice, sparking outrage among parents and carers.

Cable thieves put patients in danger at Queen Mary’s hospital - and they also disrupted BT customers in Sidcup in a separate incident.

Thamesmead pensioner Pam Wheeler was murdered in Thamesmead - the police are yet to arrest anyone.

Abbey Wood-born weightlifting star Zoe Smith broke a British record in the Olympics.

August

A petition with more than 5,500 signatures on it will be handed to Waitrose as Bexley Council tries to persuade the retailer to build a store in Sidcup.

Council leader Cllr Teresa O’Neill presented the document to Kit Malthouse, the Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, opposite the site on the high street which Waitrose had planned to move into.

She was joined by James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, and councillors for the town.

Cllr O’Neill said: “Kit has kindly agreed to present the petition to Waitrose because of Mayor of London’s support for our work to revive Sidcup High Street.

“This recognises that the opening of a new store like Waitrose would help to attract shoppers and further investment.”

The supermarket chain had planned to move into the ground floor of the site of the old Black Horse, underneath a Travelodge, but pulled out in April when bosses were unconvinced the store would be a commercial success which led to a rethink in their expansion plans.

Mr Brokenshire said: “It’s quite something to see this level of local support for the opening of a new supermarket.

“If Waitrose are in any doubt about the likely level of support for a Sidcup store, this petition should certainly help put this beyond doubt.”

More than 1,200 people also signed an online version of the petition.

Also this month:

Former Welling schoolgirl Gemma Gibbons won GB’s first Olympic judo medal for 12 years.

Bexley schools celebrated improved GCSE and A-level results.

About 270 jobs will be created by Bexley Council’s move of location.

The borough’s MPs criticised proposed rail fare increases.


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