Wednesday, May 22, 2024

That was the week..April 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.

State to Close

The State cinema was served with an eviction notice by the company that owned the building, stopping the management from using the premises. Roy Roberts, manager, was ordered that the building be vacated by 19 April.

Mr Roberts said that he would stage a sit-in rather than see the cinema close and hoped that a massive public outcry would help the cause.

The State was previously threatened with closure back in 1985 but public support saved the building from demolition. The building gained listed status through the Department of the Environment and was re-opened by London film impresario Ben Friedman.

Mr Friedman stated: “The new landlords are refusing to talk to us about renewing the lease. They show no signs of wanting to keep it as a cinema.

“I think the best thing for the State is for someone, like the local council, to buy the building. I reckon it could be bought for as little as £300,000.

“We’ve shown that the cinema is very successful from the public’s point of view. I am writing to the Leader of the Council, Coun Mrs Ann Geaney, to ask if the council will consider buying the building. We’ve shown that it’s viable. Now it’s very much up to the council if they feel it’s important to the town.”

In the four month period between December 1987 and March 1988, the State boasted a massive 58,000 customers.

Alan Stones, County Principal Assistant Planning Officer, stated: “The cinema is listed for its importance as the country’s only 1930s cinema still surviving in its original form.

“We would be very worried over the condition the cinema would get into if left empty for any length of time. In that situation, the local authority might have to serve a repairs notice.”

A council spokesman stated: “No formal approach has been made to us concerning the State theatre. If one is made, it can then be considered.”

No-one from Fleetlane Ltd, the new landlords, was available to comment.

Ghost Train Hits Vandals

Two teenagers wielding shotguns were caught in Stanford by British Transport Police travelling on a special ‘spy’ train to keep youngsters off rail lines.

Another incident involved two Russian seamen walking alongside the tracks in Grays on their way back to their ship at Tilbury Docks.

The ‘Q’ train was the spearhead in the fight to catch vandals and trespassers who endangered their own lives and those of passengers.

One of the teenagers in the shotgun incident was 14 and the other was a couple of years older. They were chased by officers for a few hundred yards before giving themselves up. The two youngsters were questioned and a report was sent to the Community Services Branch.

Sgt Ian MacKenzie, of the British Transport Police in Southend, stated: “We have had tremendous problems in the past in areas such as South Ockendon and Tilbury.

“We will be doing the usual visits to schools before the summer holidays but we are also hoping this new spy train will deter vandals and trespassers. It is also up to parents to make sure their children are not only aware of the dangers of trespassing on railway lines, but that it is also illegal.”

Janman Will Vote ‘Yes’ To Hanging

Thurrock’s Tory MP Tim Janman vowed to fulfil his election pledge of voting for the reinstatement of capital punishment whilst addressing a meeting of Grays Town Conservatives at a House of Commons lunch.

Mr Janman became Thurrock’s first Tory MP for 50 years on a law and order ticket and pledged to vote in favour of capital punishment when it was to be debated as an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.

He stated: “Since 1965, when capital punishment was abolished, 57 people have been convicted for murder who had already murdered and been freed back into society.

“So at least 57 innocent people have died as a result. Not only that, but between 1945 and 1964 when capital punishment was available to the courts, the annual total of murders made known to the police did not increase at all and actually fell even though general crime more than doubled.

“However, between 1965 and 1987 after capital punishment was abolished, the annual rate of murders has more than doubled.

“The British people know this, as do the people of Thurrock, and that is why they want capital punishment back.”

Last Speech in Council

Tory Councillor Chris Hammett, speaking at his last council meeting after being ousted by his own party in the lead-up to the local election in May, praised the council for designing a “very good” Draft Green Belt Subject Plan, adding that it should be adopted as quickly as possible as it was “in the best interests of the borough”.

Cllr Hammett, who had been criticised by Tory MP Tim Janman for his planning views, concluded: “In future, when I won’t be here to oversee the Green Belt, I hope the planning chairman will look after it for me.”

Cllr Arthur Clarke, planning chairman, said he hoped Cllr Hammett’s absence from the council would only be a temporary one, adding: “I am sure there is a niche for you in this council chamber but perhaps with a different coloured tie.”

Cllr Clarke praised the working group who had worked on the Green Belt plan, saying: “All members had the same goal and this has been achieved with a couple of extra points on top.”

Patient Leapt Off Fire Escape

The death of a Tilbury man who threw himself from a fire escape at Basildon Hospital led to a call for greater protection for psychiatric patients.
Peter Robb, 65, of Alexander Road in Tilbury, suffered broken ribs as a result of the incident that aggravated his acute bronchitis. He died three days later.

Essex coroner Dr Charles Clark recorded a verdict of suicide after hearing that Mr Robb had twice tried to commit suicide, once by cutting his wrists and, when that failed, by trying to starve himself to death.

Alan Robb, Mr Robb’s son, said he accepted the verdict of suicide but claimed that patients on a psychiatric ward should have greater protection, adding: “What I can’t understand is why the railings on the fire escape were only 3ft high. In a psychiatric ward they should be higher.”

Dr Clark told the family: “It is part of the treatment to give patients a certain amount of freedom. It is part of the recovery process.”
Nurse Ann Whalley told the inquest in Brentwood that Mr Robb had walked to the fire escape saying he wanted to get some fresh air. She said: “I walked up to the fire exit and heard a crash.
“I found him lying at the bottom of the stairs.”

In Other News…

There was misery for motorists at the Dartford Tunnel over the Easter holiday with queues of more than nine miles in length at peak times, an increase in traffic of 4% on the same period the previous year.

Grays Athletic gained promotion in a 4-2 win against Boreham Wood.

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