Review of the Year part one: Votes, Crossrail and broadband

PUBLISHED: 11:06 31 December 2018

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce wearing it pink

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce wearing it pink


As we prepare to welcome 2019, The Times takes a look at the first six months of the past year, and the biggest stories we have reported on. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the second half of 2018.

Crossrail's Whitechapel station construction in 2017, with questions now raised over 10-month delay in opening. Picture: Mike BrookeCrossrail's Whitechapel station construction in 2017, with questions now raised over 10-month delay in opening. Picture: Mike Brooke


Hard times can hit everyone, but the Revival Vinyl Cafe came up with a free cuppa for those in need. Boss Marie Tierney said: “This is basically where someone else pays their bill.”

London Bridge showed off its new look to commuters as part of the £1 billion Thameslink Programme.

Southeastern boss David Statham said: “It marks a major milestone.”

Police offered a £10,000 reward in a murder hunt for Charles Riddington, a suspect in the 2016 murder of George Baker who was stabbed outside a Bexley gym.

But new figures showed Bexley was the fourth safest area in London, said the Office for National Statistics.

Health concerns forced MP James Brokenshire to step down as Northern Ireland minister.

Bexley had one of the highest rates of stress cases among educators. Some 73 teachers were off one month or more since 2016 – that’s 46,000 days lost.


Teresa Pearce, the MP for Erith and Thamesmead made an appeal to the council for more help to support the 200 deaf children in the borough.

It didn’t fund radio aids to help small children develop language skills but she said government money was there. She said: “I hope our local authority will take advantage.”

The council did submit a bid to the Department of Digital Media to improve broadband speeds. Cllr Don Massey said: “The bid is part of our ambitious plans to provide Bexley with the very latest gigabit digital infrastructure.”

A quarter of a million pounds from the housing minister helped kick start a development of 60 homes locally. It is a plan to help produce even more affordable accommodation. Minister Dominic Rabb said: “We’re determined to make buying or renting more affordable for young families and those on local or middle incomes.”


Home owners were told their council tax was going up which meant Band D property bills would rise by £50 a year. The council said it was due to the continued and sustained squeeze on finances from central government.

The council did team up with other authorities in a bid to make sure the best treatments for stroke victims were fully available.

The council was also concerned with child obesity after hearing 40 per cent of the borough’s Year 6 pupils were overweight. A new five-year strategy was proposed.

Dawn Whiteman raised £100,000 for meningitis research after her one-year-old granddaughter Maya Ford died.

Crossrail rain a test train on the new Elizabeth line – running from Abbey Wood to Connaught Tunnel and back, it was deemed a success.

And there were hopes that after eight years without a cinema, a new one was going to develop in the old Blockbuster building, well, at least an art house cinema.


Gun crime arrived when a weapon was fired at The Fox in Belvedere. Police found a casing, but no one was hurt.

John Wornham Penfold was honoured for his contribution to British history – he designed the iconic red pillar boxes. Just 36 survive today, one of which is in Parkhurst Road, Bexley. He was born 190 years ago be became a founding member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

It was a lucky month for Pam Pepper and husband Geoff – they scooped a handy £200,000 on the Irish lottery with a 50p stake. Pam, 72, told us: “I picked the numbers off the cuff.”

A workshop was run to help schools understand the stress some children suffer before they attempt suicide. It was attended by around 60 educators from the borough.

It was that time of year for annual warnings to steer clear of hairy moths that can cause severe irritation.


Election time and the message went out that everyone should vote – in the end, the council remains blue and UKIP vanishes.

MP James Brokenshire beat cancer and became monster for housing, communities and local government.

Some £10,000 in lottery cash was used to create digital learning workshops to help seniors get online.

The massive Paramount theme part hit another bump this month with a planning application delay – sadly it was to eventually completely collapse in spite of the company behind it said to have ploughed £55 million into the project.

The Broadway Shopping Centre and Retail Park in Bexleyheath get help from new advisors to see what improvements can be made.

There are already calls to extend Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet and connect it to the original HS1 line across Kent.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said it was “10 miles of missed opportunity”

Potholes cost the council over £100,000 in compensation payments to drivers and cyclists.


The contribution to Bexley by the Windrush Generation of migrants from the West Indies was celebrated with an exhibition and talks.

The extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet gets backing from the Thames Estuary Commission. It recommends the move to the government.

Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill calls it “encouraging”.

Shocking figures reveal smoking is costing borough £60 million a year with 3,500 residents going to hospital from the devastating effects.

It is so bad, Cllr Alex Sawyer, spokesman for communities, said: “Reducing the number of smoking related illness and deaths and a key public health priority for the council.”

Some 1,400 homes sit empty in Bexley, says a new report, and the council says it is determined to do something about it.

A month after the council says it wants a superfast broadband, it was revealed over 30,000 people locally had not been online for three months, and perhaps never at all.

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