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Work starts on Market Square refurbishment

1.29pm - 19th June 2018

MARKET Square is undergoing a major facelift to transform it into a mixed-use area and restore it to its former glory. 

The facelift will see the removal of the decking features and playground that were installed as part of the Harlow Renaissance project in 2011. 

The square will be restored with the original floor design by Fredrick Gibberd reinstated, albeit with a colourful contemporary twist. 

A range of contemporary concrete street furniture, including colourful canopies, table tennis and chess tables, and public access wi-fi will also be installed to create an environment suitable for all ages offering a place to meet, relax and enjoy Harlow Town Centre. 

The red pots that have formed part of Market Square’s landscape are making a return but will be repositioned and replanted with suitable trees to add some greenery to the area. 

Councillor John Strachan, Harlow Council's regeneration portfolio holder, said: "The ‘new’ Market Square aims to stay true to the original concept that it should be an informal, lively and varied place, and the street furniture will certainly add much-needed colour and offer an alternative experience.

"It is hoped Market Square will become a place that is embraced by the Harlow community once again. 

A council spokesman said that over the years the northern part of Harlow town centre has struggled to maintain footfall seen in other parts of the town centre. 

The spokesman added that for this reason, and because of a lack of private sector investment in commercial properties and a declining market, the council has made a commitment to improving Market Square so it can be used for a range of activities that could help attract footfall. 

Specialist markets and live performances could well become regular features. 

Work is scheduled to be completed by August/September.

Couple jailed over bouncy castle death

3.53pm - 18th June 2018

THE grieving parents of a girl who died after the bouncy castle she was playing on became untethered during poor weather conditions have described the enduring pain of losing their “beautiful angel”. 

Cara Blackie and Lee Grant spoke about the impact of their daughter Summer Grant’s death two years ago after two fairground workers were both jailed for three years at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday.

Married couple Shelby and William Thurston stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court on April 16 in connection with the incident in Harlow Town Park on March 26, 2016. 

On Wednesday, May 9, a jury convicted them both of manslaughter by gross negligence and two counts of failing to discharge a general health and safety duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. 

They were both sentenced to three years in prison for manslaughter by gross negligence. 

They also received one year sentences, to run concurrently, for failing to discharge a general health and safety duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. 

Seven-year-old Summer, from Norwich, was trapped inside the Circus Super Dome bouncy castle when high winds blew it into the air. 

It travelled 300 metres down a hill and struck a tree before coming to rest. 

She was taken to hospital but died a short time later. 

Shelby Thurston, 25, and William Thurston Jnr, 28, both of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, had not adequately anchored the inflatable to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it was safe for it to be in use, the court heard. 

Witnesses told the court it had been raining and windy on the day of the incident. 

A yellow weather wind warning was in place and the weather forecast for the coming weekend was stormy, with Storm Katie expected to arrive on March 28. 

Summer’s mum, Cara Blackie, from Norwich, said: “I remember walking in and seeing my daughter’s lifeless body. What she went through was just awful; how scared she must have been. I sat with her for a while in disbelief not knowing what to think or feel. 

“I felt numb, and in complete shock. This couldn’t be happening to my beautiful Summer. “The feeling I felt leaving her at the hospital alone will be with me forever. “I kept thinking how an earth am I supposed to tell Lily, my younger daughter, that Summer wasn’t coming back. 

“The next day Lily came to the hotel and I laid with her on the bed and broke the news. She was only five and didn’t quite understand what I was saying. 

“I explained that Summer was now up in the sky with the angels. That night Lily was at the hotel window and we asked what she was doing to which she replied ‘I’m saying good night to Summer’. It was killing me inside but I knew I had to be strong for her sake. 

“Since losing Summer, our lives have changed. We are always aware that Summer is missing, whether it be at a birthday party, a family meal or just snuggled up on the sofa watching a film. “We have good and bad days but our lives will never be the same. 

“I never thought that my Summer playing and having fun on a bouncy castle would end her young life. 

“No amount of words will ever explain how this has affected mine, my daughter’s and the rest of my family’s lives. 

“I have to live with this horrible pain the rest of my life, which no mother should ever have to go through. 

"I hope that lessons are learned from this and that changes are made by those who run similar funfairs. I don't want any other family to go through what we have." 

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “I often think of Summer. 

"The words of her parents Cara and Lee will bring a lump to the throat of anyone that reads them. 

"My dearest thoughts are with Summer, Cara, Lee, Lily and their wider family. I wish the family peace for the future.”

Council thanks volunteers

7.42am - 15th June 2018

MORE than 50 local people who give up their time to volunteer for Harlow Council have been recognised and thanked. 

Fifty-six volunteers attended a reception at The Playhouse organised as part of National Volunteers’ Week which celebrated volunteering in the UK. 

The volunteers work alongside Harlow Council staff within different community services, from tending to the Town Park and Parndon Wood Nature Reserve to helping at Pets’ Corner, the Leah Manning Centre and The Playhouse. 

Harlow Council chairman Maggie Hulcoop and community and wellbeing portfolio holder Eugenie Harvey thanked the volunteers who each received a certificate in recognition of the work they put in for the benefit of the town and the community. 

Councillor Harvey said: “We are very fortunate that in Harlow we have residents of all ages who are community-spirited and willing to give their time and energy to support the delivery of some of our vital community services. 

"I met some great people including Jean Morgan who has volunteered at the Leah Manning Centre since 1986, painting nails, giving hand massages and taking the time to talk to the elderly residents, and Muriel Lee who has volunteered as an usher at The Playhouse and at the hospital for a quarter of a century! Muriel says The Playhouse is like her second family. 

“I also met two young people who volunteer at Pets’ Corner providing care for the animals and helping in the shop. 

“On top of this, many of our volunteers raise money to support the work of these services - Harlow Conservation Trust volunteers have raised over £100,000 over the last ten years. 

"Volunteers do not replace paid employees but in working alongside them, they enable us to provide even greater benefit to the community and for that we say a heartfelt thank you.”

Man jailed over M11 pursuit

7.40am - 15th June 2018

A MAN has been jailed for six years following a high speed pursuit on the M11 that saw five vehicles being struck and a determined officer assaulted. 

Unemployed Cormack Doolin, 24, of Albany Road, Hornchurch, received three years for robbery, two years for dangerous driving, six months for theft and six months for actual bodily harm, all to run consecutively. 

At Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday, he was also disqualified from driving for six years and received no separate penalty for driving without insurance. 

At about 10.50am on Sunday, February 18, police were carrying out speed checks on the M11 when Doolin drove passed in a Kia Sportage at 99mph. 

Roads policing officer PC Mike Bignell followed the car and signalled for it to stop, without success.

Doolin drove off, weaving in and out of lanes at 120mph over 11 miles before crashing into two vehicles on the junction 7 slip road at Hastingwood. 

PC Bignell got out of his car and tried to open Doolin’s door but was run over and knocked to the floor suffering a hand injury. 

Despite this he got up and continued the pursuit. Doolin was later involved in two further head-on collisions with four cars on the A414 at Church Langley - one car carrying two children. 

He ran off but was tripped over by a member of the public, Mark Solomon, and was quickly arrested by PC Bignell. 

The Kia Sportage was found to have been stolen from Heaton Avenue, Romford, overnight on Monday, February 5.

Doolin was also sentenced after robbing a guard carrying an empty cash box in Brentwood High Street at 12.45pm on October 11 last year. 

The box was later found smashed in a car park in Park Road. 

Investigating officer DC Mel Keen, of Brentwood CID, said: “Doolin was determined to escape at any cost. He drove at dangerous speeds, collided with five vehicles and run over a police officer. 

"His dangerous actions resulted in an innocent woman suffering broken ribs and a man having to undergo surgery for back pain. 

"PC Bignell suffered soft tissue damage and despite being in pain still bravely pursued the vehicle and arrested Doolin. I would like to thank him for his courage and determination. 

"My praise and thanks also goes to Mr Solomon who tripped Doolin and has since been rewarded with £200. 

His actions have resulted in a dangerous individual being locked in prison for a number of years." 

PC Bignell, DC Keen and Mr Solomon have all been nominated for commendations.

MP launches petition against hospital parking charges

9.45am - 8th June 2018

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has launched a petition to bring an end to car parking charges at NHS hospitals in England. 

In 2014, through his own research, Mr Halfon discovered that some hospitals were charging patients, visitors and staff up to £500 per week to park. 

As a result of Mr Halfon's campaign, the Government introduced guidance with the aim of limiting the effects of the charges on the most vulnerable. 

Despite Government guidelines being introduced in 2014, 47 per cent of hospitals have increased hourly parking charges and almost half on hospitals offer no concessions for disabled drivers, Mr Halfon said.

Major charities, Headway and CLIC Sargent, FairFuelUK and MPs from across the House are backing Mr Halfon's campaign. 

The Government will respond to the petition if it is signed by 10,000 people. If it gains 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament. 

Mr Halfon said: "It’s time the Government stepped up and ended this stealth tax on the sick. 

"I am incredibly pleased to have launched this petition alongside FairFuelUK, Headway and CLIC Sargent. 

"I have no doubt it will garner the support necessary to bring the issue back to Parliament - and urge the Government to listen to the thousands of people across the country and MPs from across the House and scrap these unfair fees. 

"Ultimately we cannot say that the NHS is free at the point of access if drivers are charged to attend appointments or visit relatives - and it is appalling that hardworking NHS nurses, porters and cleaners are charged to go to work. 

"The Government’s 2014 guidance is clearly being ignored by trusts. 

"This petition will urge the Government to listen to the thousands of people across the country and scrap hospital parking charges, once and for all."

Plans unveiled for old Lister House site

4.48pm - 4th June 2018

PROPOSALS to redevelop the old Lister House site in Staple Tye into housing have been unveiled by Harlow Council. 

The plans were published ahead of a pre-planning consultation meeting for local residents and retailers.

Due to public interest on social media a further drop-in consultation event will take place on Wednesday (June 6) at the Civic Centre from 4.30pm to 7pm. 

A webpage - www.harlow.gov.uk/perry-road-staple-tye - details the proposals and includes a 3D film of the proposed development. The council-owned Perry Road development will see up to 46 apartments built with a minimum of 30 per cent affordable homes. 

The council is committed to ensure that as many affordable homes as possible are provided for local people on Harlow’s Housing Needs Register as the plans develop. 

The development is possible as the existing Lister House is moving to a new site on Abercrombie Way. This is set to be completed in September. 

Next to the new health centre, a new multi-use-games-area is due to be completed shortly. The fenced area will have line markings for football, basketball and tennis and will be floodlit.

Hospital to be discussed in Parliament

8.33am - 1st June 2018

THE future of Harlow's Princess Alexandra Hospital will be discussed in Parliament on Tuesday after a debate was secured by MP Robert Halfon. 

Mr Halfon and six fellow MPs, including Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing and Brentwood and Ongar MP Alex Burghart, sent a joint letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

The debate is part of Mr Halfon’s ongoing campaign for capital funding for a new hospital in Harlow. 

The campaign is supported by key health organisations and a number of other MPs representing neighbouring constituencies. 

The letter presses the need for a new hospital in Harlow. 

Mr Halfon said: "Protecting Our NHS has been one of my priorities since becoming MP and this debate is an absolutely vital part of my campaign to ensure that healthcare in Harlow is fit for the 21st Century.

"Due to changes to NHS services in neighbouring towns, and Harlow’s growing population, the Princess Alexandra serves a huge number of patients.

"The failing infrastructure means that the hardworking staff are finding it increasingly difficult to care for residents of Harlow and the surrounding area. 

"In our letter we made clear that there continues to be a vital and pressing need for the development of a new health campus in Harlow.

"During the debate I will raise this with Health Ministers and press for capital funding to make it a reality."

Police appeal after man assaulted

8.32am - 1st June 2018

POLICE are appealing for information after a 19-year-old man was seriously injured when he was assaulted in Harlow. 

Officers received reports that the victim was approached by three black men, who had got out of a black people carrier type taxi on Bowhill Way at about 8.30pm on Friday. 

The three men threatened the man with a knife before hitting him on the head. 

The men then left in the same taxi, having stolen a three figure sum of cash from the victim. 

Police want to speak to anyone with information about the incident, in particular the driver of the taxi.

Anyone with any information should ring Harlow CID on 101, quoting incident 1321 of May 25, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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