Review of the year 2017: April, May and June
PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 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. Sarah Robinson takes a look back at April, May and June.
• A blue plaque was unveiled for Weston Olympian Paulo Radmilovic by Weston Town Council. Mr Radmilovic won four gold medals in five Olympic games, and his achievements were recognised with a plaque at The Imperial in South Parade. The Mercury revealed a shortlist for 12 other people who would get plaques after a public vote. More plaques are due in 2018.
• Traffic wardens returned to Weston’s streets after a 20-year absence. In the first two days, they dished out more than 200 tickets. Parking enforcement proved to be a contentious issue during the year, with wardens accused of being over-zealous.
• A surprise General Election was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May.
• The Helicopter Museum completed the restoration of its control tower.
• Soaring temperatures meant visitors flocked to Weston during the first Eat: Weston festival.
• Dedicated staff at The Playhouse, in High Street, worked ‘around the clock’ to re-open the venue after it was hit by flooding during a show. Three shows had to be rescheduled, but the staff’s tireless work meant the theatre reopened after just five days.
• Hundreds of people joined the first ride along the Brean Down Way cycle path between Weston and Brean Down. It opened officially later in the year.
• Former Weston mayor Henry Butt was chosen by readers to receive the next blue plaque.
• Thatchers Cider proved its long-term commitment to Sandford by planting thousands of apple trees.
• Hutton Moor Leisure Centre celebrated its 30th anniversary.
• Six-year-old Gracie Thorne from Weston had a life-changing operation to enable her to walk after kind-hearted people donated £60,000 towards her surgery.
• Weston General Hospital’s A&E department would close overnight between 10pm and 8am, it was announced. The news came just one week after the hospital said it would not make any changes to A&E without consultation. The announcement followed a damning report which said the hospital’s emergency department was ‘inadequate’.
• Weston’s Conservative MP John Penrose retained his seat in the General Election. Labour’s Tim Taylor came second, almost doubling the number of votes he received in 2015. Conservatives Liam Fox and James Heappey retained their North Somerset and Wells seats.
• The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust said it was the closest it had ever been to restoring the unsafe structure after confirming North Somerset Council agreed to support its efforts. The announcement came on the eve of the pier’s 100th anniversary.
• A Weston boy who was relentlessly bullied for a scar on his face was presented with an award by Princes William and Harry. Nicholas Nikiforou earned a Diana Legacy Award for his anti-bullying campaigning.
• The Royal Hotel revealed its plans for an extension and underground car park.