In the first of a two-part feature, the Bexhill Observer looks back at what made the headlines this year.
• The newly-refurbished Marina was deemed ‘dangerous’ and as ‘putting the public at risk’ by Bexhill Alliance. The pavements, the camber in the road and the materials used to revamp the seafront were criticised.
• Residents in Pebsham Lane experienced a year of disturbances and parking issues due to the major house-building project. Workmen parked inconveniently, lorries got stuck and views were ruined.
• A couple had their front door stolen by workmen in a row over payment. Mandy Jenner and Andy Brown, of Cambridge Road, had CCTV footage of the contractors taking the door after refusing to pay for the ‘sub-standard’ work. Fortunately, another firm offered to replace it.
• Several charity collection buckets were stolen along with £1,500 worth of spirits from a Sidley pub. The New Inn’s landlord, Stephen Lucas, could not believe the ‘scumbags’ would do such a thing.
• A woman was found at the bottom of Galley Hill by a dog walker. Sheila Davis, of Ashington, West Sussex, had ‘bottled up’ her depression before taking her own life, an inquest later heard in June.
• Storm Imogen - the first of this year’s storms - blew tiles off several buildings on the seafront, with police closing the road due to safety fears.
• A controversial new road to connect the A269 to the link road was approved despite widespread opposition. The North Bexhill Access Road was twice delayed from being discussed by the planning committee before it was finally given the green light. Dozens of residents opposed the scheme as well as campaigners.
• The next steps in bringing high-speed rail to 1066 country were discussed by a working group at Westminster set up to do everything it can to make it happen. HS1 was heralded as a ‘gamechanger’ for the area that would supercharge its economy bringing new jobs and opportunities. The working group was chaired by Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd and representatives from across the area.
• A much-loved shopkeeper was murdered by her business partner and ex-boyfriend. Carrie Izzard, who ran Battle Tackle in Ninfield Road, was stabbed 29 times by Gerald ‘Gerry’ Palmer at her Herstmonceux home. Palmer was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years after changing his plea to guilty in September.
• A popular café was devastated after a fire in the middle of the night. Most of Caffe Martini’s interior was destroyed by the electrical fire, leaving owners Danielle and Nino Martinaj heartbroken. The community rallied around the Terminus Road café owners and helped to refurbish it before it re-opened in October.
• Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard completed his challenge to run 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa for Sport Relief. The 54-year-old, from Bexhill, did the challenge is honour of Nelson Mandela as it reflected the 27 years the civil rights campaigner spent in prison. Eddie’s feat of superhuman endurance raised more than £1.35m for the BBC charity.
• A paedophile was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after admitting a string of sexual offences against children as young as three and secretly filming young foreign students as they showered. Alan Haldane, previously of Amherst Road, admitted 16 offences, including sexually assaulting three girls, in an ‘appalling catalogue of abuse’.
• Tributes were paid to former mayor Frances Winterborn, who died after a stroke aged 73. Mrs Winterborn was mayor of Bexhill between 2013-14 and a Rother councillor for eight years. Her son Doug Winterborn said: “My mum was always a battler, never keeping still always pushing forward ready to champion any cause she strongly believed in.”
• One of the proudest moments of the year for many was when St Richard’s Catholic College students spoke directly to astronaut Tim Peake over the radio. The pupils asked Tim all manner of questions in the small window when the International Space Station passed over the school. The 14 St Richard’s Amateur Radio club members’ queries ranged from what experiments he was doing in space to whether or not he had ever overslept – he had once apparently.
• A gang of vandals caused devastation at a family bus firm, smashing up 17 vehicles during a destructive rampage. A fleet of buses and coaches parked in Renown’s depot in Beeching Road were left with smashed windows, mirrors and headlights following the afternoon of destruction.
• Hundreds of hopeful jobseekers flocked to Bexhill’s first ever Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair, which the MP hailed as an ‘absolutely fantastic day’. Huw Merriman helped to organise the fair at the De La Warr Pavilion which showcased more than 50 businesses and organisations, all with opportunities on offer.
• Former journalist and agony aunt Sally Brampton was found dead in the sea near Galley Hill. The Elle magazine founder, Sunday Times columnist and author was believed to have walked into the sea in St Leonards, after suffering from depression. Two opportunities to help ‘manic depressive’ Ms Brampton were missed before she took her own life, an inquest later heard in October.
• A Bexhill man who killed a cyclist in a horrific New Year’s Day crash was jailed. Luke Headech, 25, of Wickham Avenue, was driving along the A259 Grand Parade, in the early hours of January 1, 2015, when he crashed into cyclist Jamie Murray. Headech was convicted of drink-driving and causing death by dangerous driving.
• The only Labour representative on Rother District Council and former Bexhill mayor defected to the ruling Conservative party. Sidley’s Maurice Watson said he believed he could best serve his constituents as a member of the party in charge, instead of being ‘on the sidelines’.
• The first rail strike by Southern Rail conductors was held in May in a dipute over their role and plans for driver-only trains.
Who knew the issue would continue into 2017 with months of misery for passengers and towns like Bexhill left with no trains during the strikes.
• A woman was seriously injured after a car crashed into a laundrette. The driver and a bystander were taken to hospital after the crash on Sackville Road.
• A group of Bexhill residents launched a campaign to buy a piece of woodland from the council to keep it in the community. The Ellerslie Area Residents Association wanted to purchase St Mary’s Wood from Rother District Council. The council withdrew the two-acre woodland from an auction in May, and then sold it to the group for £1 in September.
• Rother voted to leave the European Union along with the majority of Britain in the referendum. The area was the first in Sussex to declare, with 59 per cent backing leave.
To be continued.