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Review of the year 2016

PUBLISHED: 00:10 02 January 2017

Sian Blake

Sian Blake

Archant

A look back at some of the major stories we covered over the past year

An artist's impressions of the first phase of Southmere Village, the first phase of the Abbey Wood and South Thamesmead Housing Zone.An artist's impressions of the first phase of Southmere Village, the first phase of the Abbey Wood and South Thamesmead Housing Zone.

January

A landslip on the railway line at Barnehurst sparked New Year travel chaos as commuters were forced to find alternative ways of getting to work.

More than 200 tonnes of trees, soil and debris fell onto the line, damaging signalling equipment.

The 7ft golfer statue, Gordon Bennett, before its disappearanceThe 7ft golfer statue, Gordon Bennett, before its disappearance

February

Plans were unveiled to give Thamesmead a £440 million facelift with the construction of 1,500 new homes on the Wolvercote Road estate.

The Double K Gym on Stable Lane, where George Barker was murderedThe Double K Gym on Stable Lane, where George Barker was murdered

The proposals involved the demolition of the six tower and housing blocks on site, which will be replaced by quality homes.

March

A merger was announced between Bexley and Bromley colleges to improve opportunities for young people in south-east London. The newly-formed South East London Colleges Group opened later in the year.

April

The long-awaited reopening of Bexley bridge was delayed until the end of May following the discovery of a rusted water main.

According to the council, the main could have ruptured at any time, flooding the area.

May

A petition calling on Bexley council to crack down on houses in multiple occupation attracted more than 1,000 signatures.

Petitioners claimed the properties had been linked to reports of burglary.

June

The partner of EastEnders actress Sian Blake pleaded guilty to murdering his girlfriend and their two sons at their home in Erith.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, was arrested at Heathrow Airport in February after being extradited from Ghana, where he had travelled after the murders.

The bodies of Ms Blake and her sons were found buried in the garden of their family home on January 5.

July

Bexley council announced a switch to LED lighting on the borough’s streets that is expected to save £300,000 a year.

An alternative plan to switch off street lights in the early hours of the morning was rejected amid fears it could spark a rise in crime.

Chairman of Bexley Neighbourhood Watch Dana Wiffen described the switch to LED as “good news”.

August

The theft of a much-loved 7ft statue of a golfer known as a Gordon Bennett from a garden in North Cray Road caused outrage among the borough’s residents. The statue returned days later.

September

Two teenagers were taken to hospital after a mass brawl broke out between a group of around 100 youngsters at Northumberland Heath, seven people were arrested.

October

A burst water main led to extensive flooding in Crayford, leaving roads, basements and an underground car park underwater.

Sixteen cars were crushed as a result of the deluge, while homes across the Dartford postcode area faced problems with their water supply.

Firefighters were on hand to pump water away from people’s properties around the area.

November

Police launched a hunt for the killer of a young father from South Darenth who was stabbed to death at the Double K Gym in Stable Lane.

George Barker, 24, died from stab wounds to his chest and abdomen after he was set upon by a group of five attackers who reportedly lay in wait for him at the gym.

Police were called at 9.41am on Monday, November 14, but Mr Barker, whose girlfriend had given birth to a baby girl just a few days earlier, died at the scene.

December

Hopes for a solution to chronic problems on the rail network were dashed when the government blocked a takeover of Southeastern metro services by Transport for London.

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce described the transport secretary’s move as “a slap in the face for all those who have to endure the misery of travelling on a substandard rail service in south-east London.”

The takeover bid, which could have led to extra trains running to and from Bexleyheath, had attracted cross-party support.

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