The Recorder’s review of 2019: News we brought you from across Havering this year
PUBLISHED: 07:31 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:03 31 December 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, the Recorder takes a look back at some of the biggest stories to have come out of Havering this year.
Residents feared the "death of the high street" after the council announced proposals to scrap free parking in Hornchurch, Upminster and Elm Park town centres as part of its budget cuts.
The council also proposed raising parking charges from £1.50 for two hours to £2 for one hour. Cllr Osman Dervish said: "We are proposing to protect 30-minute free parking in local areas to support local trade."
Bobby Izzard, of Hornchurch, launched a social media project in a bid to teach sign language to the masses.
He set up Project BSLUK on Facebook and Instagram, posting short daily lessons to introduce the basic hand guests needed to start learning.
Bobby said: "There is a whole deaf community that often goes unseen in mainstream life which has a lot to do with people not knowing how to do sign language."
Jai Sepple, artistic director of Romford's Brookside Theatre, was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the New Year Honours for services to the arts and the community.
Shops and businesses were evacuated and two cars were destroyed in a fire that filled the sky over Collier Row with black smoke which could be seen across the borough.
About 40 firefighters and six fire engines were called to Northgate Industrial Park next to the City Pavilion bowling alley.
It was thought embers from a paper incinerator had spread to stored cardboard.
Cartoon superhero Captain Romford returned to save Havering from an alien invasion 20 years after his escapades were printed in the Recorder on a weekly basis.
Steve Bee, from Hornchurch, revived the red-caped Captain and his sidekick Cat Bandana following the launch of his new website to help young comic book artists.
Kingcotts Bakery in Upminster closed after 36 years.
The shop, in Station Road, was famous for its jam doughnuts and the smell of its bread early in the morning. Sue and Paul Kingcott decided to retire, leaving a number of sad customers.
The borough was rocked by the murder of 17-year-old Jodie Chesney who was stabbed in the back while hanging out with friends in Amy's Park, Harold Hill.
Purple bows sprang up around the community in her memory.
There was more sad news with the sudden death of popular councillor Clarence Barrett who died of a heart attack aged 61.
A woman was reunited with her a dog a year after it was stolen from her Harold Hill home.
Jayne Arkan spent months posting leaflets and putting up posters to find Yorkshire terrier Tiffany.
Social media posts were shared thousands of times but to no avail, reported the Recorder.
And then a year later Tiffany was found tied to a fence less than a minute from Jayne's home.
Hornchurch charity Add+Up was awarded £330,000 of National Lottery funding to help safeguard its work with the families of children with attention deficit disorders.
A man who drove his car into crowds of people in Romford was jailed for 12 years and admitted to a judge that he lied during his trial.
Michael Fasan, of Gidea Park, was found guilty of attempted murder and dangerous driving.
The court was told he was angry because he had asked a woman for her number outside Kosho nightclub in South Street and she refused.
A video went viral on social media showing his car ploughing into groups of people in Chandlers Way.
A princess and a dragon roamed Romford Market as part of the borough's St George's Day celebrations.
Council leader Damian White said: "Easter and St George's Day are two of the busiest days on the market."
Pupils at Elm Park Primary School were sent home and the road was closed when an electrical explosion under ground sent a manhole cover flying through the air.
Armed police swarmed a quiet residential street to arrest a man believed to be wanted by police in Glasgow in connection with a fatal shooting, but later realised it was the wrong man.
Officers had been called to a house in Greenway, Harold Wood following information received about a wanted man.
Police flocked to the scene armed with guns and dogs and cordoned off the road. A man was arrested but it was discovered he wasn't the one they wanted.
A groundbreaking ceremony marked start of construction work on the Beam Park estate in Rainham. The regeneration work expected to take 11 years.
The first phase will create 640 homes and a railway station.
Rainham Hall was closed to the public while the new BBC adaptation of A Christmas Carol was filmed there.
Hollywood actor Guy Pearce was among the cast who could be seen in Victorian costume at the National Trust property.
Two D-Day commemoration events were attended by hundreds of people.
Hornchurch Country Park hosted a military exhibition to commemorate the June 6 Normandy landings in 1944. And the Romford branch of the Normandy Veterans Association and the Romford and Hornchurch branch of the Royal Navy Association gathered in Coronation Gardens for a ceremony to honour those involved in the landings.
Former England and Arsenal football captain Tony Adams visited Redden Court School in Harold Wood to see how the charity School-Home Support - of which he is a patron - had been helping children living in difficult conditions.
You may also want to watch:
The Thames Chase 10k and family fun run was held to raise money to buy two defibrillators for the Thames Chase Trust.
One was to be based at the Forest Centre in case it was needed for visitors, the other would be for the conservation volunteers out and about through the year looking after the landscape.
A memorial funded by the community was unveiled at the site of a First World War camp in Gidea Park.
The £8,500 memorial to the Artists Rifles Officer Training Camp in Main Road stands on the site of the original entrance to Hare Hall and was unveiled by Robert Holland, a descendant of a recruit who passed through the camp.
A huge grass fire in Launders Lane, Rainham, raged for almost six days. It was thought to have started in a field before spreading to a large pile of waste. Nearby residents were urged to keep doors and windows closed to keep out the smoke.
Around 70 firefighters were involved at the height of the blaze and columns of thick smoke could be seen from neighbouring boroughs.
A planning application to transform a derelict construction site in North Street, Romford, into a 16-storey tower block was refused by Havering Council. Councillor Joshua Chapman said the 98-home block would plunge North Street into darkness.
Collier Row Carnival turned the streets purple in support of anti-knife crime charity Take a Knife Save a Life which was launched after the murder of Jodie Chesney in Harold Hill in March.
Campion School, Hornchurch, was shocked by the sudden death of teacher Peter Cervi who was killed in a road accident while riding his motorbike on holiday in Germany. He had worked at the school for more than 30 years. Tributes poured in.
Havering Show was held during a heatwave, with families and music lovers partying in sweltering sunshine. British reggae band Aswad and indie band Toploader were the headliners.
Havering Council was on the hunt for the men who started illegally cutting down trees in a secluded forest area in Noak Hill.
Residents noticed men cutting down the trees even though a Tree Protection Order was in place. A council enforcement team and police officers visited the scene but the men had disappeared.
Long battles to save two open spaces from housing development ended in victory for campaigners.
Havering Council announced it no longer wished to build on the green in Gooshays Gardens, Hill and the land bound by New Zealand Way, Rainham.
Council leader Damian White said: "The proposals ... were to deliver affordable accommodation that will support those residents. But this administration must consider the human cost of providing these additional units."
The historic Rom Skatepark closed after 41 years because rising costs and falling attendances had made the site financially unsustainable.
The closure came almost five years since the venue was heritage listed as Grade II asset by Historic England.
Romford town centre police said they were at breaking point after four officers were assaulted there in three weeks.
A spokesman for the East Area Command said police in the home of Havering's
largest night-time economy were "over stretched and under resourced".
Romford's airport shuttle service The Gatwick Flyer closed after 32 years.
News that the minibus company in Danes Road had gone into liquidation - making all 33 members of staff redundant - was met with sadness by customers, some of whom had been using it since they were children.
Havering Council announced a public consultation and review of its decision earlier in the year to scrap free parking in Hornchurch and Upminster after opposition from residents and businesses.
More than 1,000 people took part in the first Havering Half Marathon for 25 years. The run was organised by mental health charity Havering Mind.
Plans for a cosy micro pub in Hornchurch were given a major boost when The Hop Inn was granted a premises licence.
Owner Philip Cooke said it would be "a cosy, relaxed venue with no lager, no slot machines, TVs or ringing mobiles and no amplified music".
It would serve real ale, wine and high quality spirits.
Mayor of Havering Michael Deon Burton reported his own council to the ombudsman saying it had failed to protect tenants on the Mardyke Estate. He said when they signed tenancy agreements they did not understand the terms, which landed them with huge heating bills.
Two teenagers were found guilty of the murder of Jodie Chesney in Harold Hill. Aaron Isaacs, 17, and Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, were given life sentences.
Parents were upset as it was announced the Romford Mothercare shop would be closing down as the company entered administration.
Families were particularly concerned that the soft play area might have to move.
The Moon and Stars pub in Romford reopened after a £1.3m refurbishment which included a new rooftop garden.
The Wetherspoon pub in South Street had been closed since August.
Children from schools across Upminster took part in a march through the streets to raise awareness about the dangers of bullying.
The Haylett family continued a 37-year tradition of decorating the outside of their home with Christmas lights for charity.
Residents gathered to see the lights switched on and Father Christmas gave out presents.
Lesley Haylett said: "We started by raising money for Saint Francis Hospice and then Queen's Hospital's charity and the Cardiac Risk in teh Young charity. This year we' raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital."
A third attempt to demolish Carrie's Hall community centre in Elm Park and replace it with houses was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate.
A formerly homeless woman completed the rebuilding of her life by opening her own shop. Larissa Forfana opened Eben Wood Clothing in Romford and donates 50p from each sale to Hope4Havering, the charity which helped her when she was homeless.
Havering's three MPs retained their seats as the country went to the polls.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Romford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.