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2013 Review: Messenger's top stories of the year
6:10am Wednesday 1st January 2014 in News
2013 has been a big year for Trafford, so Messenger gas decided to round up its most memorable stories of the year.
A BOOST for the £13m hospital earmarked for Altrincham town centre kicked the year off on an optimistic note.
Following an agreement with Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), it was announced the new facility would operate extra services and be granted more space than first planned.
This was in stark contrast with the fortunes of Trafford General Hospital which faced plans to downgrade their accident and emergency department.
Meanwhile, residents raised fears that HS2 could result in houses being demolished to make room for the £33b high speed rail route.
Councillor Patrick Myers claimed land allocated to the project at Davenport Green would have a ‘major impact’ on Hale Barns, but still backed the 250mph line and the possible 30,000 jobs it could create in the region.
An inquest into the death of prominent road safety campaigner Hilda Laffey, who was struck by a car on Moorside Road, Flixton, in 2011, heard that the accident could have been avoided.
January was tinged with further sadness when the body of 18 year-old student Souvik Pal, from India, was found by police divers in a stretch of Bridgewater canal near Old Trafford football stadium.
A coroner later recorded an open verdict.
February began with a tragedy in Timperley, after Chloe Waddell, a 16-year-old Olympic swimming hopeful, was found dead by her parents at home. A coroner later recorded an undiagnosed heart defect as the cause of death.
Days later, Dale Cregan, who was charged with killing two Trafford policewomen in a gun and grenade attack, performed a dramatic u-turn in court to enter a guilty plea.
Unarmed police constables Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were gunned down by Cregan after being lured to the scene of their death with a bogus 999 call.
Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell was also set to appear in the dock, after the CPS confirmed he would face trial for a string of alleged child sex offences.
Away from the courtroom, there was controversy when it was revealed weekly bin collections for general waste in Trafford would be axed, with only food and garden waste to be collected weekly instead.
The council’s decision provoked a heated response, but the Conservative run council defended the plans and accused Labour of ‘scaremongering’.
February also saw former grammar school teacher David Bradley, 59, from Hale Barns, banned from teaching after streaking in front of pupils on a camping trip.
Drama greeted the start of March with a gunman opening fire at a person sitting in a car parked close to St Mary’s Primary School in Sale.
Police moved quickly to reassure the public that it was an isolated incident – with the targeted man avoiding the bullet.
Two nursery workers in Sale were however hit – with the sack, after bosses accused them of planting cocaine and trying to blackmail them out of £30,000.
Childcare workers Sharon Ingham and Sharon Sadler took the owners of Sale Private Day Nursery to an employment tribunal claiming wrongful dismissal.
A judge upheld the decision to fire the pair later in the year.
There was more job news when Morrison's announced they had struck a deal with B&Q in Altrincham to take over their site and create 220 new vacancies.
Trafford Labour Group warned against 'creeping privatisation' of the fire service following government proposals to contract out services.
Their crews were kept busy at the end of the month when 21 caravans were destroyed by a fire at New Manor Farm, Stretford.
Nobody was injured in the blaze which could be seen for miles around. Gas cylinders attached to the trailers were blamed for exacerbating it.
April began with the fall-out from another huge farm fire, this time at Fairy Lane Farm in Sale Moor, where fire-fighters broke into a stable to save five Shetland ponies.
It was the 40-year prison sentence handed to Stephen Seddon, however, who used a sawn-off shot gun to murder his parents in Sale, which was the main talking point at the start of the month.
Seddon’s doting mother and father had recently paid for one of his speeding fines and identified him as the sole beneficiary to their £230,000 will.
The world was rocked by the Boston bombing and Timperley resident Tony Collier, who was running the marathon, spoke first-hand about the horrific scenes and how he could have been among the casualties had he not finished the race so quickly.
Also making international headlines was the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which prompted Altrincham and Sale West MP Graham Brady to pay a glowing tribute and describing her ‘immense contribution’.
Another chapter of history was closed when the demolition of St John the Baptist Church began.
The plot was earmarked for retirement apartments after being left empty since 2009.
The month began with Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green expressing here shock after two police officers were injured whilst on duty in Old Trafford.
A £300m recycled paper mill in Partington Wharfside was officially opened by Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon.
The new project created 90 jobs and uses recovered paper to produce 450,000 tonnes of containerboard each year.
Other projects were not being so positively received, as decision on Barton Renewable Energy plant (BREP) beckoned.
Despite opposition from environmental groups and a host of Trafford MP’s and councillors, Secretary of State Eric Pickles gave the plans for BREP the green light.
Peel Energy claimed the £70m plant would be positive for the area, generating low carbon electricity for 37,000 homes and creating more than 100 jobs during the peak construction period.
There was however a universally positive response to the news of a £150,000 grant from the government to rejuvenate Altrincham.
The prize was part of the High Street Renewal Award in recognition of the town’s innovative approach to injecting new life into the high street.
The month closed with news of sick Altrincham GP Stephen Hamilton’s 18 year jail sentence for raping an 11-year-old girl.
June began with Trafford council fighting back against the government decision on BREP. Following an emergency meeting, the Conservative run council decided to seek legal advice to challenge the plans.
The row over another controversial decision – to reorganise services at Trafford General, was again in the news as the birthplace of the NHS celebrated its 65th birthday.
The campaign received unexpected support from high-profile Flixton group Rainband, who announced that as well as playing Glastonbury – they would also be performing at the hospital’s anniversary celebrations.
Meanwhile in Altrincham, several readers contacted Messenger to express their distress that approximately 200 dead fish and a dead duck were floating in a pond at Stamford Park following building work to repair banks around the water.
June also saw the drawn-out trial of one-eyed killer Dale Cregan finally come to an end when the judge told him he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
Mr Justice Holroyde told Cregan: “You acted with pre-meditated savagery... you drew those two officers into a calculated trip for the sole purpose of murdering them in cold blood.”
The sentence finally put to rest one of the most distressing murder cases in Trafford’s history.
The Altrincham Festival kick started the summer, with a grand procession leading the celebrations including brass bands, drummers and floats.
The procession was led by two sisters Jodie and Freya Goodier, the festival queen and festival rosebud respectively.
The highlight of the show, at Beech Fields Recreation Ground, was a spectacular flaming high dive from the top of a 60 ft tower by Mark Stannage in which he set himself on fire before diving headfirst into an air bag.
It certainly proved to be a favourite for the crowd which packed the festival showground.
The event was a huge success. The funfair, craft marquee, animal show and car boot sale were some of the other events taking place.
On a damper note, the controversial plans for Trafford General Hospital were continuing to be met with anger from staff and local people.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was sticking to the decision to downgrade the A&E department and turn it into an urgent care centre which would only open between 8am and midnight.
Hundreds of campaigners turned out to voice their concerns over the cuts at their local hospital.
Council meetings were then held to discuss the legal challenges facing the downgrade of the A&E department.
August saw work get well under way for the new Altrincham Hospital which is set to open its doors in early 2015.
The hospital covering 75,000 square feet will include a minor injuries unit, outpatient consultation and treatment rooms, physiotherapy, X-ray, ultrasound and blood testing services.
The development will replace the current Altrincham Hospital which dates back to the Victorian era.
Health chiefs have promised the hospital, on Railway Street, will provide high quality facilities and better disabled access.
Success continued as Beatlemania came to Abbotsfield Park in the form of the Bootleg Beatles, celebrating 50 years since their legendary performance at the Urmston Show.
The fab four were booked to play here before they actually became famous so it was certainly an event to remember.
Even at the August show, over 3,000 people watched the tribute band with the event also including the Tremeloes and Herman’s Hermits.
One of the bigger ongoing stories about a Hale man’s murder of his secret mistress reached its conclusion.
David Ryan, 48, was sentenced to 34 years as a minimum life sentence for the brutal murder of Diana Lee after conning her out of £70,000, believing she was investing into a business venture of his.
Mr Ryan attacked Mrs Lee with a blunt object before dragging her body through the house and into the garage, finally mutilating her with a chainsaw.
Next month saw Michael Le Vell being cleared of child sex charges as the accuser made a string of allegations claiming she had been raped and abused as a young girl.
The actor, who plays Kevin Webster in Corrie, finally left court on September 10 after jurors took five hours to reach the not guilty verdict on all 12 counts.
The 48-year-old was initially arrested back in 2011 but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with the case, but fresh allegations led to the re-arrest of the actor in February this year.
TV chiefs are now in discussions with Le Vell about the possibility of him returning to the long-running soap.
Away from the cobbles, a £60 million development in Altrincham finally got the go-ahead after being granted outline planning permission from Trafford Council.
The Altair development will boast a leisure centre, restaurants, coffee shops, bowling alley, apartments, offices and a car park covering four and a half acres of land.
Gary Halman of How Planning said: “It will be a major shot in the arm for Altrincham and help instil greater confidence in the town.”
October welcomed a celebrity face in the form of television presenter and scientist Professor Brian Cox as he opened Altrincham Grammar School for Boys’ new physics centre.
He unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the centre which includes four labs, a preparation room and both staff and sixth form areas.
Professor Cox also delivered a lecture and gave practical demonstrations to some pupils.
He spoke of his delight to open the £1 million centre saying that sciences were a worthwhile career path to budding physicists.
Trafford Mayor Dylan Butt also attended the ceremony.
On a dark note, Jimmy Savile’s friend and former driver Ray Teret was charged with sexual offences relating to 15 victims.
The former DJ appeared at Manchester City Magistrates’ Court on October 26 after being charged with 32 offences including 15 counts of rape, one count of gross indecency and one count of possession of extreme pornography.
The abuse was alleged to have happened between 1962 and 1996 in Greater Manchester.
The 72-year-old is a former Piccadilly Radio and pirate DJ who used to share a flat with Savile.
DCI Graham Brock described the investigation as ‘complex’ and said that extensive and wide ranging inquiries have been carried out.
November saw the announcement made by Trafford Council to spend £100,000 on refurbishing its Carrington Depot in the same week it confirmed 89 jobs would be cut.
The depot building is an important one as it acts as a base for the council’s environment, operations and transport department – which comprises street lighting, highways and drainage and ground force teams.
The budget proposals aim to save the local authority £13.4 million but would mean changes in staffing and working overtime at the council.
The potential job losses include frontline posts, back office and managerial positions.
Leader of the council, Matt Colledge, said that he regrets the cuts in jobs but was confident that the job losses can come through voluntary redundancy.
The misery continued for Trafford Water Sports Centre as the council decided to make further cuts by depriving the area of its £1.1 million funding which would come into place on December 31.
Trafford Labour Group leader David Acton described the decision as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘undemocratic’ stating that no discussions were made with other councillors before the decision was made and that the public would be shocked.
This funding cut means that sporting use by schools and summer activity clubs will no longer take place.
The saga spilled into December as more than 2,000 people signed a petition to keep the park and sports centre open.
As well as the paper petition, an online petition carrying more than 400 signatures was organised and if the total number reaches 3,000, the issue has to be put before full council.
There were plenty of messages of support from schools and other groups who use the services at the park.
As well as being a popular sports centre and park, it is a conservation and wildlife refuge area so there could be a lot at stake if decisions to cut funding went ahead.
As Christmas approached, there was a lot of delight for the stars of Coronation Street as the move to their new and bigger home in Trafford took a step closer.
Stars including Kim Marsh and Sue Nicholls who play Michelle and Audrey were at the 7.7-acre site on Trafford Wharf Road to launch their new home which comprises of 54,000 cobble stones and 400,000 bricks.
The set, which will become the permanent home of the ITV show in the new year, has been authentically created to make the homes bigger and the street wide enough for two cars to pass.
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