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The Times review of 2019: News we brought you from across Bromley this year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 December 2019

A selection of Times' front pages throughout 2019. Picture: Times Archive

A selection of Times' front pages throughout 2019. Picture: Times Archive

Archant

As 2019 draws to a close, the Times takes a look back at some of the biggest stories to have come out of Bromley this year.

January

Formerly homeless Dennis Rogers from Penge was made an MBE in the New Year Honours for his tireless work getting others off the streets.

He used his experience of sleeping rough and alcohol addiction to support others and developed a self-help group of former homeless people called the Saturday Club. He told us: "I was amazed when told I had this award."

Worringly, some 10,000 women in Bromley missed their breast cancer screening meaning it was the lowest turnout since the current screening programme began in 2007.

Keen photographer David Wanostrocht, of Orpington, took an award-winning picture of a dandelion in his back garden proving you don't always need to travel long distances for that top shot.

Bromley Council backed a crowdfunding scheme to improve the range of play equipment in Kings Meadow, Burnt Ash Lane.

Cllr Kira Gabbert said: "Friends groups all over the borough are helping to raise much needed funds by security grants and sponsorship to improve green spaces."

February

Noah Gofur saved his mum by ringing 999 when she collapsed - and he is just seven.

The Petts Wood youngster talked calmly and clearly to the dispatch operator so an ambulance could be sent for his semi-conscious mother Marjana.

St Christopher's Hospice opened its shop in Hayes with the mayor on hand to do the honours.

Bromley Beacon Academy - which has sites in Bromley and Orpington -received a shining Ofsted report. Inspectors rated the school as Good with outstanding leadership.

Sam Parrett, CEO of London and South East Education Group, said: "The school was at risk of closure when we took it over in 2016."

A Bromley man was awarded £10m by the High Court after suffering a brain injury in a 2012 car crash.

Met Police commander David Musker was at London South East College, Bromley, to warn students about knife crime. The following week, two children, aged 11 and 12, were robbed at knifepoint in High Street, Beckenham.

March

A cash boost for infrastructure around Shortlands station was welcomes because it meant better foot and cycle ways.

But keeping transport out was another worry for the council as it introduced concrete barricades to deter fly-tippers from Star Lane, St Mary Cray. The blocks could be quickly moved into place and away again, and designed to keep out people who started to regularly ditch rubbish.

Demelza Hospice Care, Eltham, celebrated its 10th anniversary and promised to continue to grow.

The hospice offers a lifeline to children, young people and families throughout Bromley and Bexley. Phoebe Langford, now nine, was one of the first children to be helped. She said: "I love baking and we're going to make cupcakes next time I visit."

Former Brookside actress Lucy Morgans' All the Arts stage school put on a show just for teenagers tackling some key worries.

Dozens of firefighters spent all day battling a huge fire at a textile warehouse in Cricket Lane, Beckenham.

April

Bromley Council officials seized a wild cat from a Biggin Hill home. The serval cat - native to Africa - was two feet tall and weighed 40lbs.

Cllr Kate Lymer said:"Keeping an exotic animal is not the same as a domestic pet - they have special diets and needs, with natural instincts that must be met."

Plans were unveiled to finally demolish the Allied Bakery factory in Orpington, closed since 2015. In its place, fresh commercial developments were promised.

Beckenham solider Lance Corporal Lance Pennington Harman was remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission after falling at the Battles of Imphal and Kohima, India, in what is said to be Britain's greatest battle.

Red Hill Primary School in Chislehurst was delighted with its improved Ofsted report. It went up from Requires Improvement to Good with some Outstanding features.

Improvements to the disabled access at Petts Wood and St Mary Cray stations were promised with a share of a £300m cash boost.

May

A row over the development of St Hughes Playing Field school in Buller's Wood looked like ending after being given the green light.

The plans were first approved in 2017, but constant rows over traffic and other planning issues saw it put on the back burner.

There was bad news on the retail front with the closure of Debenhams stores, including Orpington.

A centuries old tree in Trinity Village was saved from the chainsaws after a public campaign..

More than 4,000 visitors made the most of West Wickham Village Day - held after a break last year because it was getting too big to be run by volunteers.

The Friends of Blake Park this year joined up with professional event company Lollipop Events.

Joshua Towell, 19, from Petts Wood, was among 300 to get the highest Scouting honour from chief scout Bear Grylls.

A company promised robot pals to help Bromley students with their remote lessons if they are away from the class because of prolonged illness.

June

Puppies named the Palmer Litter after Bromley Pc Keith Palmer - who was murdered during the Westminster terror attack in 2017 - officially passed out as fully fledged police dogs.

There were celebrations at Prickend Pond, Chislehurst, which received £25,000 from a charitable trust for restoration works.

TV comic Tom Allen visited St Christopher's Hospice in Sydenham to hand over cash he won when he appeared on a celebrity edition of Pointless.

He grew up in Bromley and said: "There's so much that hospices offer that you don't expect."

The King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was told it required improvement by the watchdog Care Quality Commission. A report said: "At Princess Royal University Hospital and its south sites, we found a deterioration in expected standards in the emergency department."

Firefighters rescued 11 people from a fire which broke out in a flat in Beckenham Road, Beckenham.

July

As customers drew up battle plans to Save the Chelsfield pub in Chelsfield from bulldozers, two more in Orpington were celebrating.

The AA's Pub Guide 2020 listed The Bo-Peep in Hewitts Road, and The Five Bells in Church Road as among some of the UK's best 2,000 pubs.

The council was preparing to use 1,000 pop-up homes to take on the homeless crises. Known as modular homes, they are becoming more popular with local authorities as they appear to be a quick fix to the problem.

Cllr Peter Morgan, cabinet member for housing, said: "One advantage of this is speed."

Plans for a new £11m aerospace college at Biggin Hill airport were widely welcomed. It is a partnership between London South East Colleges, the airport, and Greater London Authority. Once complete, there will be space for 200 students and 25 teaching staff. Bromley Council said it was on board.

August

With delays to Crossrail's end date continuing, it was cost worries plaguing the mammoth project in August.

The Department of Transport announced the price had gone up £220m to £2.8billion. And the reason was all those delays to making modifications to pre-existing parts of the track.

Nyron Jean-Baptiste, 18, from Penge, was jailed for life, with a 19-year tariff, for the machete murder of Jay Hughes, 15. The youngster was simply standing on the street when a car pulled up and he was attacked while chatting to an acquaintance who had run off as three men charged at them.

It was 50 years since local lad David Bowie came up with Space Oddity, and to mark the occasion, Bowie Tour London announced a new David Bowie Musical Walking Tour of Beckenham to point out all the vital sights and sounds that made the Thin White Duke the icon he was.

September

The London Fire Brigade carried out its one millionth home fire safety visit, and it happened to be in Beckenham.

Eileen Morgan welcomed the brigade's commissioner Dany Cotton along with some of the Blue Watch team. Eileen had a chat about fire safety and received some personalised advice on fire prevention.

It was knives and forks at the ready at the Orpington Food Festival arrived. Organised by Orpington 1st, it featured a series of events with several restaurants running special festival offers.

Organiser Chris Travers said: "Flavours of Orpington is a great chance to celebrate the range we have."

Second World War veteran George Dunn, 97, was given the chance to take to the skies over Biggin Hill once again, especially as it was in a Spitfire on Battle of Britain Day. George had been a pilot with Bomber Command during the war flying Halifax and Mosquito bombers.

October

Bromley went greener with new collection vehicles to start a boost in recycling statistics. It took delivery of a £6m fleet of 36 vehicles.

And they can now take a range of new materials like batteries, clothes and textiles, plus small electrical items, all to be collected weekly.

There was anger at the council's decision not to install a pelican crossing near the Chislehurst war memorial.

Chris Wells from Chislehurst Safer Streets said: "Bromley Council's repeated refusal to install a pelican crossing is empty of compassion."

However, the council believed the junction was safe enough.

A prototype of the famous Churchill Memorial on Westerham Green was sold at auction for almost £10,000 by television antiques expert Catherine Southon. The maquette, or original bronze resin cast, showed Winston reclining in a chair.

Bromley Council continued its clampdown on blue badge misuse taking 22 more drivers to court to be fined a total of around £10,000.

November

An appalling head-on crash on Halloween night cost the life of a Gravesend bus driver Kenneth Matcham and injured 15 others, three seriously. It happened at 10pm in Sevenoaks Road, Orpington.

The incident caused long delays as the wreckage of two buses and a car were removed from the scene. Crash investigators were also looking into the incident.

Rescuers were also needed when a big wheel broke down in Bromley. It became jammed at the Christmas market being held in the High Street.

London Fire Brigade said the fault was caused when a drive cable snapped.

Firefighters had to carefully rotate it manually to let the 26 rides safely off.

Plans were unveiled for Bromley's first modern office block in more than 20 years. The Commercial Park Group said it wanted to build it where the present Wells House stands. The group called it Europe's most innovative office project.

December

The possibilty of moving Beckenham Library to make way for 46 homes was bitterly criticised by members of the public who attended a key council meeting.

Cllr Peter Morgan, portfolio holder for renewal, told the audience the council was merely exploring the possibility of moving the library to Beckenham Public Hall by hiring viability consultants.

Still with books, and 14-year-old author Annie Fogden from Petts Wood was celebrating getting published. Her first novel, called This Lighter Realm, sends readers into a world of alternative realities.

She said the book emerged when her parents asked her to cut down on playing video games, so she turned to writing instead.

Rough sleepers in Bromley who create anti-social problems could be prosecuted after the Met Police's Supt Colin Carswell urged the council to take strong action.

He said: "We surely can't have an individual defecating in the street like that."

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