Looking back on 2013: a year of highs and lows

Preston bus station
Preston bus station
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2013 has been another busy year in Lancashire. ROSIE SWARBRICK looks back at some of the stories which made the headlines from July to December


Wednesday, July 10 - Road closed ‘for 15 years’

Vandals interfering with a sign gave residents the wrong idea.

Residents in Eccleston appeared to have many months of road misery ahead as a Lancashire wCounty Council sign was changed.

The sign on the road on The Green in the village said: “Road closed here Monday June 3 for 15 years”

The council blamed vandals for the tampered sign which alerted villagers to the closure of Bannister Lane.

Monday, July 15 - 100 jobs to go at UCLan

Jobs were axed at the University of Central Lancashire as bosses aimed to shave £15m off its budget.

The 100 non-academic job losses were blamed by bosses on government cuts to higher education and a fall in student numbers.

Martyn Moss, regional official for the University College Union, said the situation was not unique to UCLan and added: “We are very disappointed to have received notice of collective redundancies and we are opposed to any compulsory redundancies and will be fully engaging with management with a view to avoiding job losses.”

Wednesday, July 17 - It’s not cricket

Village cricketers in Hoghton manned the barricades to stop travellers setting up camp on their pitch.

But four families who managed to sneak through for an overnight stay left their mark of rubbish strewn across the grass.

Friday, July 19 - Boy, three, finds bomb in garden.

Horrified mum, 34-year-old Joanne Dixon found her three-year-old son playing with a live nail bomb in their front garden.

Dixon, of Hazelhurst Road, Ribbleton, Preston found little Levigh Bamber playing with a small black package.

The mum of eight realised the device was a nail bomb when she unscrewed the top and black powder fell out and she called police. Neighbour Christopher Dooley, 40, was later jailed for making the nail bomb.

Wednesday, July 24 - Preston’s bangers in Royal baby birth tribute.

Preston market traders celebrated the birth of the Royal Baby, Prince George, with their own branded specialities.

Adrian Livesey butchers created a Royal sausage tribute, a Union Jack flag made with red, white and blue sausages.

While elsewhere Brett Fisher and Natalie Clarke welcomed their own bundle of joy into the world.

Isaac John weighed exactly the same as Prince George and was born on the same day just one minute after the future King at 4.25pm

Thursday, July 25 - WHY?

An arsonist was found guilty of

killing four siblings in a blaze.

Dyson Allen was found guilty of the manslaughter of siblings Reece Smith, 19, his four-year-old twin sisters Ella and Holly and brother Jordan.

Allen set fire to devastated mother Michelle Smith’s Freckleton home on January 7 2012 when he was 18.

After the trial, their devastated family demanded to know why Allen set the fire that killed them.


Monday, August 12 - Wiggo pub up for sale

A Chorley pub that honoured cycling hero Sir Bradley Wiggins’ success with a mural went up for sale.

Eccleston pub The Windmill Hotel had been closed for months but joined on the Knights bandwagon by painting a tribute.

Wiggins lives in Eccleston and the village are proud of the cycling great.

Barry Woods, of Eccleston, created the mural after painting many designs on the wall over the years.

Monday, August 19 - Disconnect

Lancashire County Council scrapped plans to transfer community alarm services to firm One Connect limited. Following concern from tenants and the existing providers, the council abandoned the plans.

Tuesday, August 20 - Wasted lives

The Evening Post uncovered figures showing that 15 mental health patients in Lancashire have killed in the last 10 years. The special investigation revealed that Lancashire Care Foundation Trust ranked eight out of 50 trusts for mental health homicides.

Wednesday, August 28 - Boy, 9, saves girl in pool

Leyland schoolboy Ethan Temmen saved a toddler from drowning on holiday in the United States.

Courageous Ethan swam to the bottom of the hotel pool in Florida and pulled the two-year-old girl to safety.

Ethan appeared on eight TV stations in the States after Sheriff Jerry Demings awarded him with a bravery medal.


Monday, September 2 - School inferno

A big story of the year was the fire that swept through the grounds of Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College, the Sunday before the start of term. Four boys were arrested in connection to the blaze which over 100 fire fighters from across the county battled and later bailed.

Sixty per cent of the school was destroyed and students - who were due to be back at school on Tuesday September 4 - had to travel to Ribbleton Hall Drive in Preston.

Tuesday, September 12 - City deal to bring 23,000 jobs

Hundreds of millions of pounds of investment for Preston was unveiled in Downing Street.

The £130m City Deal was announced after Lancashire political chiefs met with Greg Clark the Financial Secretary to the treasury.

The City Deal aimed to kick start a ‘once in a lifetime’ programme of long-term growth by creating 23,000 jobs and transforming Preston’s infrastructure and transport links.

Tuesday, September 24 - Lara was murdered

An inquest revealed that 26-year-old teacher Lara Jones was strangled whilst travelling in Cuba by a hostel worker.

The teacher, from Goosnargh, Preston, was found discovered by maids in a Havana hostel bedroom on March 15, 2012.

Preston Coroners Court heard that the English language teacher was killed by a Cuban security guard.

The man is now serving a 22-year prison sentence for her murder.

Thursday, September 26 - Probe into One connect £500k payout

An investigation was launched after the Chief Executive of One Connect received payments totalling £500,000.

Auditors discovered the money was paid to David McElhinney before he resigned from his position at One Connect Limited, without the knowledge of the Lancashire County Council Treasurer or the current Labour administration.

A council report said no salary payments were made to him from May 16, 2011 to March 31, 2012, or April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, and he instead received payments agreed by OCL of £231,709 in June for the first period, and £275,888 in July for the second period. The former leader of the council, Conservative Geoff Driver, said Mr McElhinney’s pay deal had cost the taxpayer nothing as it was underwritten by BT.


Wednesday October 2 - Charity Saved - Underthreat charity, the Space Centre, was saved.

The charity based in Pedders Lane, Ashton, Preston, was in dire straights because of a financial blackhole.

But a charitable organisation called Creative Support has come on board to save the centre.

The organisation paid off Space’s immediate creditors - meaning the long-term future of the centre is secure.

But the centre still needs help to raise a further £250k for sensory equipment

Saturday, October 5 - Brave Bill, 83, fights masked gunman.

Bill Edmonds was cut on the hands by a masked thug as he tried to fight off a knife wielding burglar at his Leyland home.

The attack began when Bill opened the door to the intruder at 8.30pm, the attacker kicked and dragged the OAP and demanded cash.

An appeal to catch the ex-Leyland Motors engineer has been shown on TV show Crimewatch.

Monday, October 7 - Murdered Michael tried to save girl

Soccer coach Michael Jones, 25, from Tarleton, near Preston, was stabbed to death in New York in October 2012.

His family flew out to America to meet with NYPD officers and the District attorney to see what progress had been made in trying to catch Orlando Orea - the chief suspect who is on the run.

Officers now believe Orea was trying to take advantage of a woman but Michael walked past and intervened.

The woman escaped to safety but Orea is thought to have chased after New York Red Bulls junior coach Michael, pulled out a knife and stabbed him multiple times.

Saturday, October 26 - Top chef in court on VAT rap

Celebrity chef and restauranteur Paul Heathcoat MBE appeared in court in connection with allegations he flouted rules around supplying goods that are subject to VAT.

He was later fined £3,000 and ordered to pay more than £7,000 in compensation.


Monday, November 4 - Bus campaigners celebrate victory

Scores of people turned out in Preston to celebrate the end of a successful campaign to save the city’s bus station.

A giant model of the iconic bus station’s sweeping curves was carried through the town during a parade on Saturday.

The procession, organised by the Save Preston Bus Station group, celebrated the Government’s decision to grant the building Grade II listed status.

Preston Council gave up on its plan to demolish the 44-year-old structure and later transferred control to County Hall.

Monday, November 25 - Preston academy slammed by inspector

Preston’s multi-million pound flagship school, Fulwood Academy was plunged into special measures by Ofsted.

They criticised almost of every aspect of teaching, learning and management across the school.

The Black Bull Lane Academy, formed in 2009, was deemed inadequate following a two-day inspection by a team of four.

Tuesday, November 26 - Mind your language

Pizza staff told: speak English or face disciplinary action.

Stuart Horton, a 47-year-old pizza delivery man quit his job at Domino’s pizza in Blackpool Road, Ashton, Preston, after a notice was placed in the staff room.

The sign said: “All staff whilst you are working at this store you must speak in English.

“This is for ease of communication, safety and due to some complaints from staff at other stores

“Anybody ignoring this could find disciplinary procedures followed, as it could be seen as a form of workplace bullying/harassment.”

Around 15 people, many of who don’t speak English as a first language, were working at the store.


Monday, December 2 - Russell wows the crowds for Katy

Thousands of football fans were spellbound at Preston North End when opera singer Russell Watson launched into a poignant song in memory of a young brain Katy Holmes.

The 46-year-old tenor returned to Deepdale, where he sang a number of times earlier in his career, to raise awareness of the Katy Holmes Trust. During half-time of the match against Bristol City, Russell sang a powerful rendition of Someone To Remember Me and dedicated it to 10-year-old Katy Holmes of Penwortham, who died of an inoperable brain tumour last January.

Saturday, December 14 - License bid for first city casino

A team assembled by Edgar Wallace, owner of the former Fives bar building in Guild Hall Street, is working with the National Casino Industry Forum (NCiF) to win the city a licence for casino gambling.

They are backing a motion currently going through the Commons to make licences portable, meaning that Preston would be able to use the permission currently granted to a town or city that has not been exercised.

If the bid is successful, they hope that a major casino name will open early next year in the two upper levels of the landmark former Preston Conservative Club building.

Wednesday, December 18 - Blazing row

Preston’s historic Black Horse pub was ordered to stop burning wood in its Victorian grates because the building is in the middle of a smokeless zone.

Pub ;andlord Graham Rowson said: “The log fires are part of what makes the Black horse so popular and helped win us Pub of the Year recently. It wouldn’t be the same without them.”

The 115-year-old Black Horse is a Grade II-listed building and recently won Preston’s pub of the year award.