That was the week…March 1988

By Myles Cook

HERE IS the latest in our series of features looking back at some of the news items to be found in the Thurrock Gazette archives from 25 years ago.

Weapons Amnesty Success – Haul of Horror Is Handed In

The month-long weapons amnesty, organised by Essex Police, saw 79 weapons and 13 firearms, including a crossbow and two meat cleavers, handed in to Thurrock’s four police stations.

Chief Inspector Keith Bevell, stationed at Grays Police Station, commented that: “There is no doubt the amnesty has been a success.”

He continued: “If this amnesty has saved just one person from being injured then it has been a success. Having seen some of these weapons, they are capable of inflicting horrendous injuries.

“There is no way that the majority of the weapons handed in could have been used for a legitimate purpose. I have to say I am surprised at the success of the operation.”

The arsenal – due for destruction – included 47 knives, seven flick-knives, a machete, ten cut-throat razors, an axe, three coshes, three air rifles, three shotguns, four air pistols, four automatic pistols and ammunition.

FP Clinics Face the Axe in New Cuts

Thurrock and Basildon Health Authority looked at the possibility of closing Thurrock’s family planning clinics in a bid to save more than £500,000 with more services at Orsett Hospital also in the frame.

Recommended cuts included the continued closure of an orthopaedic ward at Orsett, the continued closure of medical beds at Orsett, the restriction of general surgery at Orsett and the reduction of staff at South Ockendon Hospital and in the school dental service.

Richard Taylor, district general manager, acknowledged there would be a potential outcry over the proposed closure of all family planning clinics in Thurrock, except those for training and the supply of coils.

A report to Authority members pointed out that the “current pattern of clinics provides a complementary family planning service to that provided by the General Practitioners with the district.

“The effect of this proposal would be to increase the demand placed upon the service provided by GPs, not all of whom offer a comparable service to that provided by the existing clinics.

“This proposal would also reduce the choice available to women seeking family planning services.”

Thurrock Council voiced its opposition to any possible cuts in Thurrock’s health services.

In a letter to the Health Authority, Derek Taylor, the council’s director of housing, health and leisure, stated that: “The council takes the view that family planning remains a vital service and that specific family planning clinics are often more acceptable to women than the same service as provided by general practitioners.”

If agreed by Health Authority members, a full public consultation on the proposed cuts would follow.

Keep Out – MP Warns the Council

Tim Janman, Thurrock’s Tory MP, triggered a major row after telling Thurrock Council to mind its own business and keep out of controversial national issues when the council announced it was boycotting aerosol sprays believed to be responsible for destroying the ozone layer.

The ban on aerosols containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in favour of ‘trigger’ sprays was due to begin on April 1st.

Council members sought Mr Janman’s support in getting Government action to outlaw CFCs but, in a letter, Janman replied that: “…I do not feel that these are matters which councillors on a local authority should be debating, when they have got so many problems of their own making to discuss.”

He continued: “In fact, in my view councillors are not elected to discuss these sorts of issues full stop.”

The letter infuriated members of Thurrock’s environmental health committee with some saying that they wanted to keep Mr Janman out of any major issues they wanted the Government to take up.

Cllr Jimmy Aberdein, committee chairman, stated that Mr Janman “shouldn’t open his mouth unless he knows what he is talking about”.

Mr Janman was, however, unrepentant, stating: “It is my firmly held belief that Thurrock Council should be debating issues of concern to ratepayers and tenants. I am not criticising the individuals concerned but it is not what they are there for.”

The decision to adopt the use of ‘trigger’ sprays would lead to a saving for ratepayers.

Have-a-go Ex-postie Rewarded

William Starkey, 62, was praised by a judge for bravery in trying to stop armed robbers from escaping the scene of the crime following a Post Office raid in Aveley.

The retired postman tried to block the raider’s getaway route with his car and followed their vehicle when that failed until he lost track of them. His wife contacted the police.

Judge John Taylor awarded Mr and Mrs Starkey £500 for their assistance in the eventual capture of the criminals and awarded a similar amount to Gary Cackett, a local butcher, for “having the good sense to write down the number of the getaway car”.

The judge stated: “Mr Starkey, who doesn’t enjoy good health, drove his car to block the getaway. Knowing that the raiders were armed he put his life in peril and his property in danger. I call that very brave indeed.”

Three men from Tilbury were jailed for the raid and one man from Purfleet was jailed for aiding and abetting.

Top Beaver for County

Graham Monk, Cub leader of 7th Grays Cromwell Pack, was appointed Assistant County Commissioner for the Beavers.

He was to be responsible to the County Commissioner for Beaver Section and would represent Essex on the Regional Board.

Mr Monk was a long-standing member of Thurrock Scouts and involved in Gang Shows for many years.

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