Year in Review: Health cuts, teenage gangs and homes plan is approved

George Fredenham and Richard Osmond filming for BBC's Countryfile.

George Fredenham and Richard Osmond filming for BBC's Countryfile. - Credit: Archant

As we moved into the autumn, the future of Nascot Lawn respite centre remained uncertain despite Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreeing to reinstate funding until the beginning of next year, and the controversial Private Ambulance Service was wound up following months of complaints about its poor service.

The Shires visit Beechwood Park School in Markyate to open their new music school extension.

The Shires visit Beechwood Park School in Markyate to open their new music school extension. - Credit: Archant

Much-loved darts playing grandmother Barbara Liddle was tragically killed in a hit and run in Camp Road at the start of October. Despite an extensive police investigation the perpetrator has yet to be found.

Plans to turn old allotment plots in Sandridge into affordable housing was rejected by SADC, and developers Cala Homes launched yet another appeal against the council’s refusal to allow horses to graze on the community meadow known as Bedmond Lane Field.

After vandals wreaked a trail of destruction in a Harpenden cemetery, kicking over gravestones and smashing memorials, stonemason Anthony Knox stepped in to carry out repairs free of charge.

Charity sailor Shona Davies embarked on her epic six month challenge as part of the Clipper Round the World Race, helping to raise awareness and funds for mental health charity Mind in Mid Herts, we flashed back to 1987 on the 40th anniversary of the Great Storm, and thousands of people took part in this year’s Herts 10K race.

Damaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny Loo

Damaged gravestones in Westfield Road Cemetery. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Swingeing cuts by the Herts Valleys CCG meant St Albans woman Charlotte Waring was denied the vital IVF treatment she needed to become a mother, and we revealed how an independent audit had found “significant weaknesses” in the financial governance of the CCG.

London Colney residents were shocked to hear about a proposed garden village of at least 4,000 homes on their doorstep as part of Hertsmere Borough Council’s Local Plan, and elsewhere in the district Harpenden council revealed its far-reaching vision for the future of the town in its own Draft Neighbourhood Plan.

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A bishop who once served the Diocese of St Albans, and a dead Catholic priest were both posthumously accused of historic sex abuse. Bishop Hubert Whitsey and Father Thomas Heley were said to have abused young boys in their care.

The St Albans big cat remained on the prowl, with a severed deer foot found in Wheathampstead, at least until the sighting of a mangled carcass on an M25 sliproad which may have been the beast. There have been no reports since, so who knows?

Barbara Liddle. Photo: Herts Police.

Barbara Liddle. Photo: Herts Police. - Credit: Archant

November kicked off with a warning about gangs in Harpenden after a spate of muggings targeting young teenage boys, the district council bought the former St Albans police station as part of a city centre rejuvenation scheme, and thousands of people signed a petition to prevent the closure of Cuffley Camp Outdoor Centre after the county council announced plans to pull funding, but ultimately proved unsuccessful in their efforts.

Specialist cleaning teams were called in after vandals sprayed graffiti over the Sopwell Nunnery ruins, and the BBC’s Countryfile team joined publicans from The Foragers to explore its menu of wild food. District drinking holes were also in the headlines as the Save St Albans Pubs campaign reached Parliament, but the Chancellor’s autumn Budget failed to offer the much-desired cap on business rate increases for pubs, or a review of the rates system in general.

The M25 Animal Killer was believed to have struck in the district after two bunnies were dismembered in Harpenden. A police investigation into around 400 animal mutilations taking place across the south-east of England remains ongoing.

The long-awaited decision into the Oaklands College housing scheme received the green light this month, with the 350-homes development on 13 hectares of Green Belt paving the way for a £51m enhancement programme at the further education establishment, and a century-old copy of the Herts Ad was found preserved in a time capsule at the site of St Albans’ former museum.

Filming of this year's St Albans Businesses Christmas video.

Filming of this year's St Albans Businesses Christmas video. - Credit: Archant

Harpenden amputee campaigner Sarah Hope became the recipient of a Pride of Britain Award after successfully lobbying for government funding to make running blades available for more child amputee victims and country music stars The Shires performed at the opening of a new music school extension at Beechwood Park.

The Government warned it could intervene in St Albans’ housing situation after it failed to produced a Strategic Local Plan, with communities secretary Sajid Javid writing to MP Anne Main and council leader Cllr Alec Campbell to express his concerns about the “lack of progress”, while neighbouring Dacorum Borough Council was obviously sniffing around for opportunities after mooting a development of 4,500 new homes spreading into the district near Redbourn.

Herts CCG eventually decided to stop supporting Nascot Lawn from Thursday May 17 2018, after failing to reach an agreement with the county council over joint-funding the service, but parents launched legal challenge opposing the decision in response.

There was an early Christmas present for Wanwan and David Kiff as their long-running visa fight reached a positive conclusion. Her latest application was accepted, meaning she can now stay in the UK for two and a half years.

Shona Davies

Shona Davies - Credit: Archant

St Albans Businesses networking group released their annual festive video in aid of Home-Start Herts, a compilation of Christmas classics re-enacted by representatives of local companies, including the Herts Advertiser, and a heavy snowfall brought the district grinding to a halt.

As we approached the year’s end, Luton Borough Council revealed shock plans to expand Luton Airport to accommodate between 36-38 million passengers and 240,000 flights a year by 2050, and the burial site of the long-lost Abbot John of Wheathampstead was discovered by archaeologists working on the St Albans Cathedral excavations.

Finally, plans were revealed for the long-empty former BHS store in St Peter’s Street, and we looked ahead at the opening of the new city centre museum and gallery in May.

That brings us to the end of another year of news, good and bad, so all that’s left is for the Herts Ad team to wish all of our readers and advertisers the very best for 2018, and we’ll see you in the New Year!