Review of the year: July, August and September
PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 December 2017
This year may be best remembered for two controversial subjects – the overnight closure of Weston A&E and parking. But 2017 was also filled with the generosity of strangers, people taking a stand in campaigns and well-attended events. Here is how July, August and September unfolded.
• Protestors were out in force against the overnight closure of Weston General Hospital’s A&E. The department closed at night in July, without a clear timescale on when it would re-open or a plan for how to restore the 24-hour service.
• A large part of Weston was cordoned off by police in a major incident involving ‘unstable chemicals’. It later turned out the incident around Baker Street was triggered by ‘a small quantity of household bleach’.
• North Somerset Council’s civil parking enforcement action, which involves fines for drivers parked on double yellow lines or bus stops, raked in £138,000 in three months.
• Villagers in Kingston Seymour vowed to sleep in All Saints’ Church after lead was stolen from its roof in the early hours of the morning.
• Music stars including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Newton Faulkner wowed Hazy Days crowds at the Tropicana.
• A £11.3million food hub planned for the Junction 21 Enterprise Area received planning approval. It should create 250 jobs when it opens at the end of 2018, or early 2019.
• Hutton Moor manager Dave Gould was given a prestigious Royal Humane Society award for saving grandfather John Waddington’s life when he collapsed playing football.
• A Weston student who dedicated his life to raising thousands of pounds for charity was given the Diana Award. It was presented to 16-year-old Josh Bell from Hans Price Academy.
A crash on the M5 left drivers stranded for hours as Weston ground to a halt. Two lorries crashed between Weston and Clevedon in the early hours, causing a fuel spillage and leaving some people stuck in queues for 15 hours. Some generous Westonians handed out bottles of water to those who were stranded on the town’s roads. In October, it was revealed the crash was the worst tailback of the year so far anywhere in the UK.
• The intimidation tactics of rival gangs was blamed for North Somerset having the third-sharpest rise in people carrying weapons in the country.
• £12,000 was handed out to youth groups through the Mercury and Weston Lions Club’s Go Kids Go! project. In total, 21 winners went away with money for sports equipment, tents and theatre lighting.
• Organisers of Eat: Weston were planning to put an event on in record time, after the cancellation of the Weston super Food Festival, which was due to take place in September.
• Weston police moved into their new headquarters at Weston Gateway Business Park.
• The new-look Italian Gardens opened following a £2.45million transformation. A free 10-hour festival took place in the square.
• A ‘breakthrough’ was made in research about Cheddar’s ancient cannibals. Experts discovered the cannibals drew on human bones as part of a ritual.
• Weston Museum opened for the first time in two years following its £1.8million revamp. The museum could have been closed for good seven years previously.
An independent company was drafted in to decide what would happen to the derelict Royal Pier Hotel site as the bank which loaned money for the land wanted its £2million investment back. The move had potential repercussions for Birnbeck Pier, as both it and the Royal Pier Hotel are owned by CNM Estates. However, as we head into 2018, the future of the structure remains unclear.
• A candlelit vigil was held at Weston General Hospital to mark A&E’s two-month overnight closure.
• Work to create new studio space at the Blakehay Theatre was completed.
• North Somerset Council’s leader hit out at the Government after it was ‘forced’ to approve 22 additional sites for housing. The new sites were in Churchill, Congresbury, Sandford, Winscombe and Weston.
• Hutton Moor Leisure Centre opened its new 155-station gym after a £2.15million extension.
• The Italian Gardens’ fountains were switched on.
• Worle Community School opened its journalism centre for students, named after former Mercury reporter and BBC presenter Jill Dando.
• Campaigners launched a campaign to save Hewish and Puxton Village Hall. They need to raise £100,000 by 2019 to buy it for the community. They have raised £88,000 already, and believe they will have enough to buy it in 2018.
• A venomous Portuguese man o’war washed up on Weston beach.
• Weston’s new creative hub, called The Stable, opened in Wadham Street. It offers workspace for up-and-coming businesses.
• Eat: Weston took place for a second time to fill the void left behind by the cancelled Weston super Food Festival. The event will return twice in 2018.