Those Were The Weeks That Were – May/June 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.
20th May 1988
Racetrack Falls At Last Fence
Environment Minister Nicholas Ridley made a U-turn and refused planning permission for a racetrack to be built on farm land at Orsett Heath.
The plans included a 10-furlong racetrack together with a 100-bedroom hotel, grandstand and a hospitality suite.
Hew Watt, who owned Heath Place Farm, and former jockey Richard Muddle were looking to revise their plans to meet the objections that led to the Minister’s refusal.
Man Is Held On Murder Charge
Clifford Inseal, 41, of Boyce Road in Stanford was charged with the murder of Mrs Kathleen Whiston, of Rodings Avenue in Stanford, and appeared in Grays Court where he was remanded in custody for four weeks.
Mrs Whiston’s body was discovered in her home by police following an alert raised by worried friends. The cause of death was discovered to be asphyxiation during the post mortem examination.
Police Find Body At Refuse Tip
The three-week search for the body of Sandra Midlane bore fruit with the grisly find of a dismembered female torso.
The police hoped that a post mortem examination would be able to establish the identity of the remains and the cause of death.
Police stated that they would remain at Mucking Tip to search for further remains.
27th May 1988
Fear Of VAT Visit Led To Death Leap
Pipe fitter and jazz fan John Graham jumped from a 75ft gantry at the Coryton refinery over fears of a visit from VAT officers, his widow told an inquest.
Mr Graham was contacted by VAT officers who had been informed about his sideline in selling records, posters and pictures at concerts and festivals. Although he put a lot of effort into the ‘business’, it was actually more of a hobby and barely covered his expenses.
Worried that the VAT officers would seize the family home, he took his own life. It later transpired, however, that his fears were unfounded as he was not making a living from his small business sideline.
Vote Keeps Ward Shut
The members of the District Health Authority voted to keep Freeman Ward at Thurrock Hospital closed despite widespread condemnation.
The 12-bed ward for elderly disabled male patients was closed six months beforehand as an emergency measure to save money.
Thurrock Council accused the health authority of disregarding the views of the 12 patients and their visitors.
Hurd Turns Down Police Call For Men
Home Secretary Douglas Hurd refused a request for an additional 50 officers for Essex, allowing the county an allocation of only 20 new officers.
Geoffrey Waterer, chairman of the Essex Police Committee, stated that Essex was now 60 officers short of the actual requirements of the county.
New developments in Thurrock, including the new Chafford Hundred site, meant that this borough alone needed an extra 27 police officers.
3rd June 1988
Market Is Step Nearer
Borough planners gave the thumbs-up to plans for a new street market in Chadwell St Mary.
The plans for the 36 stall market in the Defoe Parade shopping precinct, running on Wednesdays and Saturdays, drew some opposition but were passed as being a way of attracting more new trade for local shopkeepers in the area.
As the land was owned by Thurrock Council, the borough’s policy and resources committee would have to grant a licence for the use of the land before the plans could be put into action.
Jobless Total Falls And Job Chances Rise
Jobless figures dropped below 5000 for the first time in 10 years, shaking off Thurrock’s title of the unemployment black spot of the South-East.
Only 8.2 per cent of the borough’s labour force was found to be out of work, a figure well below the national average.
There were more job opportunities too, with a figure of only two registered unemployed people for each job vacancy as opposed to five people for every job vacancy just 12 months beforehand.
Tunnel Traffic Sets Another New Record
On the Friday before the Bank Holiday, 95421 vehicles used the Dartford Tunnel, shattering the previous record by more than 1200.
Queues of up to five miles on both the Essex and Kent sides were recorded as a result of the increased tunnel usage.
Other days over the Bank Holiday weekend also caused misery for drivers during the peak periods.
Tunnel bosses expected the record for tunnel usage to topple again in the coming months due to the holiday period of July and August.