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Review of the year 2019

PUBLISHED: 12:38 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:38 30 December 2019

Residents of The Quarry loved having no cars around on Car Free Day and now pledge to hold the eco party monthly. Picture: Brian Aldrich

Residents of The Quarry loved having no cars around on Car Free Day and now pledge to hold the eco party monthly. Picture: Brian Aldrich

© Brian Aldrich

As we say goodbye to 2019, we look back at the some of the stories we brought you throughout the year

January

The year started with the Met Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit appealing for help in identifying a man seriously hurt in a road collision.

The pedestrian was hit in Langley Road, Greenwich, and was believed to be from Bexley.

The borough's free stop smoking service added another venue in January, taking it to 13.

The former Belvedere Police station was occupied by a group of rough sleepers, who refused help from Bexley Council.

The council said: "The group have not yet used the services and support offered, however we will continue to explore all avenues."

The once notorious Larner Road Estate in Erith saw a major re-generation with police crime prevention techniques built into its 588 new homes.

A plan to convert abandoned tennis courts in Bexleyheath in to a BMX track were sent in the council. Skateboarding facilities were also included.

Bexley Council became one of 11 boroughs to team up and fight homelessness amongst families at risk.

February

Bexley Council's development company, BexleyCo, was given the green light to construct 400 homes at several locations. Council leader Teresa O'Neill said: "We have always been clear, we believe in good growth."

The plan was to build at West Street small car park, Felixstowe Road car park, Erith Road, Lesney Park Road and Old Farm Park.

The prime minister recognised a mother and daughter team for their work in promoting science to women.

Amy and Nicola King, from Bexleyheath, created the GlamSci charity to help women study science.

The police in Bexley revealed they were employing tactics used on football hooligans to crack down on county line drug gangs.

More than 400 people attended the Yog Foundation's fourth annual India Republic Day, which celebrates the occasion when India was declared a republic after gaining independence from two centuries of British rule.

Aldi launched a trial donating food to three Crayford charities in a bid to drive down waste.

March

Twitchers from across Britain arrived at the Crossness Nature Reserve after a penduline tit was spotted on the marshes.

Karen Sutton from Thames Water's bio-diversity team, said: "It's really extraordinary to see the penduline tit here, as they usually winter in central and southern Europe."

David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, visited King Henry school in Erith. The former Erith School had merged with Townley Grammar to form the new Odyssey Trust for Education.

Deputy headteacher Hayley Gibbs said the vision was "to leave no student behind" by providing the very best in student

support and a rich curriculum.

Catering students from London South East Colleges took over the Blueprint Cafe near Tower Bridge for some real world training.

The government pledged almost £5m to enhance transport services between Abbeywood and Ebbsfleet.

Plans for a waste incinerator at Belvedere raised concerns for wildlife safety at the Crossness Nature Reserve.

April

Plucky Beaver Scout Xander Roberts, six, overcame multiple medical problems to win the Award of Meritorious Conduct.

He was one of two young members of the 1st North Cray Scout Group to be presented with an award by the Greater London Scout East Commissioner Gwyn Muckelt. Chase Best won an award for gallantry.

A new Gurdwara in Belvedere took a big step forward when council officers backed it.

The current Sikh temple in Lower Road - a converted warehouse - would be bulldozed and replaced with a more traditional design.

A new service to help women in violent relationships was launched in Bexley. Solice is designed to be a one-stop-shop independent domestic violence advocate service.

Bexley Council announced it was investigating whether a post office could be installed at the new Sidcup library development.

The popular Bexley Beer Festival was back for its 14th year.

May

Economic woes for people appeared to have risen with the news that use of Bexley Foodbanks had tripled.

Almost 8,000 people had a three-day emergency handout in the year to March.

Queues were also seen on the street of people waiting for vital food parcels.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas arrived at the Cory Riverside Energy waste incineration plant to discuss his concerns about a second plant in Belvedere.

He feared it could have a detrimental impact on biodiversity across the river and into his constituency in east London.

Bexley mum Adrija Biswas, a survivor of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack in New York, was crowned at a major pageant. She told us: "I can't believe I am the winner of the

Mrs India UK 2019 Pageant."

Plans for almost 50 affordable homes at allotments in Slade Green were submitted to Bexley Council.

Fans of craft ale were delighted an old pet shop in Blackfen was to be turned into a micropub.

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June

Five people had a lucky escape when they fled a burning restaurant in Erith. The blaze struck the Hooked Fish which also saw three others treated.

Three tower blocks in Arthur Street, Erith, were marked for demolition to make way for 32 new homes in a £95m regeneration plan from Wates Residential.

A political wrangle started over electric vehicle charge points. Labour wanted

the Tories to rethink their planned introduction of 26 bays in 13 locations. Labour suggested many of them were going

to be in the wrong place.

Meanwhile, the council asked residents in Erith for their thoughts on a raft of local improvements at Riverside Gardens.

And Belvedere was named as Britain's toughest place to pass a driving test. The average pass rate is a little over 50 per cent, but this slumps to 31 per cent here.

The alien Par Bexia touched down again for a space theme week of fun.

July

Bad news for fans of getting a new wheelie bin for their rubbish - the council announced a delay in getting 160,000 of them distributed to homes.

The delays were predicted to be around six weeks and an issue with the tendering process was being blamed. Homes were set to get two new wheelie bins each.

Still with the council, it announced it needed to find £18m in savings among finances it says are already seriously stretched.

Finance officers were predicting a cumulative budget gap of more than £38m by 2023/4, and added: "There continues to be significant uncertainty in future funding."

The PM announced after the election an easing of austerity.

Visits to Bexley libraries soared by 45,000 compared to the year before. The council said some of this rise was down to its new initiatives to expand the services available, including Libraries at Night and the BookBuzz Festival.

August

Stem cell donor Pip Ratcliffe took on the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 race to encourage more donors to come forward.

The Sidcup rider made the decision after a friend was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma six years ago when she was just 22. The gruelling ride is often described as the London Marathon for the cycling world.

Some 50 affordable homes being built on former allotments in Slade Green attracted some criticism.

More than 200 people signed a petition opposing the building of 48 apartments but councillors backed the plans which include 47 parking spaces.

The Eco Festival in Abbey Wood proved popular as it strove to raise awareness of failing ecology. It was held at Lesnes Abbey and was described as a validated "learning destination". Its star, the 15ft tall Bin Bot, made from wheelie bins, also made an appearance to thrill children learning how to save the world.

September

Hundreds suffered a communication cut when thieves made off with cables used to supply phone, internet and television services in Abbey Wood.

A £1,000 reward was offered to catch the thieves who left people in the dark when it came to communication with the outside world. Openreach said it affected the network along New Road.

A Crayford industrial site is set to be redeveloped into homes after the council approved plans. Some 35 houses were to be built along Maiden Lane by Bellway London Partnerships. Those plans also allowed for an old barn to be dismantled and moved to a safer site.

Train travellers were warned trains were to be halted for nine days in February to allow major works to protect passengers. The announcement was made after four recent landslips into the tracks which blocked the lines for days. Network Rail promised the £6.6m works would keep the line clear for 120 years.

October

Residents on a so-called eco-centre development pledged to go car-free one day a month.

They live at The Quarry, Erith, and held their first trial day. They committed to extending that afternoon of fun and games to a pledge and steer clear of their cars once a month.

A deadline passed for anyone to complain about the Dartford crossing charges becoming permanent. Experts said the charges are vital to keep traffic movements down as the crossing is already running at 117 per cent capacity.

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "The current charge to use the crossing exists to manage traffic demand on a crossing where traffic exceeds capacity."

A third crossing is planned for nearer Gravesend.

November

The Mayor of London renewed his demands for rents to be kept under control after it was revealed the annual cost in Bexley had gone up by £3,600.

Sadiq Khan said these rises underlined the need for rent control after they went up in the borough from an average of £800 a month to £1,100 a month. The mayor also published a detailed blueprint on how this control could be achieved.

St Catherine's School in Watling Street, Bexleyheath, saw union pickets turn up for several strike days.

They were protesting over two members of staff being suspended and one sacked, but no one was willing to say for what. The school said it had carried out all the proper disciplinary procedures.

Housing development caretaker Robert Roast was praised for his quick actions that prevented a vulnerable resident from being fleeced by a conman. It happened at The Crescent, Sidcup.

December

Stranger rapist Jonathan Graden, from Hackney, was jailed for life after attacking two women.

He was tracked by Met police investigators when he took a cab to Bexley. The 30-year-old carried out an attack in 2011 and again in 2018, which were linked by DNA samples.

At Snaresbrook Crown Court, Graden was ordered to serve at least 10 years.

The council's property arm BexleyCo sparked worries when it revealed plans to build 30 units in Erith on one of its last green spaces near the junction of Macarthur Close, and West Street.

The council said the site was under used.

Still with the council, and it had switched on its new public wi-fi network in a bid to keep shoppers in its town centres. These include Erith, Welling, Sidcup and Crayford. The authority also announced that Bexleyheath and Bexley Village would follow soon. Deputy council leader Louie French said free wi-fi is a major attraction to those who want to stay online while out and about.

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