That Was The Week That Was – 13th May 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.
Arsonists Set Off Two Blazes
Experts attributed the blaze at Lansdowne Primary School in Tilbury to a deliberate act of arson causing £5,000 worth of damage.
A spokesman for the County Council stated: “The fire broke out on Saturday evening in a building which has been redundant for five years so it hasn’t affected school life at all. The building has been scheduled for demolition sometime in the future.”
William Brown, station officer from Tilbury, revealed: “The fire happened in a classroom and the corridor, which as far as we can tell, results from someone breaking in. Thirty per cent of the school was severely damaged.”
Police were investigating a separate incident at a house in Buckles Lane in South Ockendon at midnight on Wednesday 4th May. Officers found that the blaze was started deliberately, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
A spokesman for Blue Circle Cement, owners of the eight-roomed property stated: “We have owned it for 10 or 12 years and it has been unoccupied since February.
“I’m not sure how much damage there is, but if it’s extensive and the house has to be demolished, then the cost could be as much as £60,000.”
William Brown, fire investigation officer, revealed: “There were two seats of fire which indicates that it was arson but we have to excavate it to find out what happened.”
Only Scroungers Lose, Claims MP
Tory MP Tim Janman said that the Government’s changes to the social security system had brought an end to a “Scrounger’s Charter”.
Loans had replaced the single payment system for special purchases which was, in his opinion, a much fairer arrangement.
Mr Janman, speaking at Reading Westminster Luncheon Club, commented: “The old system had become a Scroungers’ Charter with more than one in three families on benefit receiving payments for special purchases, whilst in 1949 it was only one in 10.”
He admitted that the personal savings limits set by the Government were over-zealous leading to a loss of housing benefit for some.
He added: “I hope the new limit of £8,000 will be increased further to £10,000 in April 1989. But people with more savings than this should not expect their neighbours to pay their rents and rates for them.”
He went on to say that another main objective for the Government was to incentivise work as opposed to a life on welfare.
“Hence the new Family Credit, paid to working families on low pay with children, and housing benefit was to be calculated on take-home pay or net income not gross income.
“Also the new Family Credit is far more generous to such families than the Family Income Supplement it replaced.”
Prehistoric Man Lived At New Town Site
Evidence of a settlement occupied by prehistoric Man was unearthed by bulldozers at the Chafford Hundred development site.
Jonathan Catton, Thurrock Council museum assistant, followed bulldozers working on the site on the west side of Hogg Lane, sifting through the earth for articles of historical significance.
Mr Catton, an archaeology specialist, found a number of polished flint axe heads that led him to believe the site was a settlement about 4,500 years ago. The axe heads were identified as being from the Neolithic Period.
He stated that the site would have been ideal as a settlement as it was on raised ground and easily defendable.
Police Catch Over 400 in Speed Traps
More than 400 speeding motorists were caught in a month-long police operation with police warning that speed traps would continue over the coming months.
Laindon Traffic Police were carrying out the operations within the Thurrock and Basildon Divisions.
Inspector David Howard commented: “We have been amazed at the amount of people who have been caught in our traps. Our teams have been inundated with offenders.”
£9,500 worth of fixed penalty notices had been issued but one in five cases looked set to result in court cases and offenders losing their licences.
The speed traps were set up in 30mph areas with the highest recorded speed reaching 67mph.
Inspector Howard remarked that people did not seem to be learning from the speed checks, adding: “We used to find that driving behaviour improved after a purge on one area. But that hasn’t been the case.
“But the operation will continue.”
Call To End Dangerous Waste Deals
Stanford-le-Hope councillor Dave Hunt attacked the Government for not adopting a waste classification system similar to the European one thus encouraging Continental waste tippers to dump their toxic waste in Mucking due to low British safety standards.
Mucking tip was one of the main imported waste treatment sites in the country.
The British system of waste classification deemed waste ‘dangerous’ or ‘special’ if it posed a threat to people whilst Europe included a threat to the environment in their ‘dangerous’ category.
Cllr Hunt argued: “It is vitally important that our Government’s definition of what is classed as special waste must be raised to the same level as other EEC governments in order to stop this country becoming the waste tip of Europe.
“Over the last two years the amount of imported waste has risen tremendously and I assume that’s because of the difference in legislation.”
John Harrison, Essex County Council public protection chief, however, claimed that the safety standards in Essex were higher than most.
A unique licensing system meant that toxic waste could not be imported into Essex by sea and that rubbish imported by road into the county had to be notified in advance.
In 1987, 23,500 tonnes of waste was imported into Essex for treatment and it was expected to almost double in 1988.
Mr Harrison claimed that all imported waste was strictly monitored and waste vehicles were subject to regular spot checks.
In the past, shipments had been traced back to America and even Africa although Mr Harrison claimed they were isolated incidents.