Flintshire review of the year

Reporter:

Andrew Boyd

From a controversial councillor who wanted to wear his shorts on duty to a blazing inferno that reduced a recycling centre in Buckley to ashes, there was plenty to keep us talking in the second half of 2010.

July
- IT WAS revealed a fleet of buses bought with £850,000 of council cash had stood unused for a year.

Cllr Bernie Attridge described Flintshire Council’s lack of use of seven buses, purchased to help improve service, as “a massive waste of taxpayers’ money” as they stood idle in the Alltami Depot.

- ALSO in the news was the alarming tale of a dog walker who found herself trapped in quicksand as a beach walk went horribly wrong.

Kathleen Wood, from Buckley, relived her ordeal after she was buried up to her knees in the quagmire while walking on Talacre Beach with her black labrador Dylan.

- COLOURFUL Flintshire councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun hit the headlines after demanding his local authority allow him to dress as he wanted around County Hall.

Cllr Armstrong-Braun was pictured outside Flintshire’s headquarters in t-shirt and shorts, as he called for councillors and officers to have the right to wear cooler garments in the summer months.

He was greeted with criticism from members of the public and fellow councillors for his proposal.

August

- THE new football season kicked off with the sport enduring a crisis in Flintshire.

Club bosses admitted they would face a struggle to meet the 50 per cent rent hike imposed by Flintshire Council for use of its pitches.

- THERE was also controversy when it was revealed hundreds of families faced hefty bills to repair loved ones’ gravestones.

Flintshire Council declared almost 200 memorials at cemeteries in Bagillt and Holywell were health and safety risks, with the stones deemed dangerous to be either laid flat or propped up.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, who represents Holywell, called for the authority to show “maximum care” in handling the issue.

- GCSE and A-level results were published, with one brave young man’s achievements standing out.

Despite battling a brain tumour and missing much of the school year, Connah’s Quay High School pupil Matthew Cotgrave managed to obtain three C grades.

Mum Kathy said she was “really proud” of Matthew for his achievements, particularly as he had limited energy due to the tumour.

- ANOTHER happy young man was Harley Noble, of Bagillt.

Leader readers raised enough money for the cerebral palsy sufferer to have a wheelchair friendly car and he could now look forward to a much needed extension on the family home after a mammoth fundraising drive.

September
- TWO fires were talking points during September.

Farmer David Williams said “people could have been killed” after his Bodlondeb Farm, in Greenfield, was the victim of a suspected arson attack that gutted his barn and caused serious damage to a neighbour’s bird aviary.

The following week saw flames dominate the Buckley skyline as crews battled an inferno through the night on Spencer Industrial Estate.

Significant damage was caused to West Pennine Skip Hire and Recycling, with other businesses sustaining damage.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service would later reveal they would never be able to establish the cause of the fire.

- THERE was fury as it was revealed Flintshire Council had paid a consultancy firm £400,000 in three years.

Angry Cllr Bernie Attridge said: “We are forking out millions of pounds for consultants when we have staff already employed by the council that can do the job.

“Why, when times are tough, are we making these people even richer?”

Bosses justified the figure, claiming the firm had helped the authority make savings of £570,000 since October 2008.

- THE council was also coming under fire from factory workers who were late for work due to roadworks.

Staff at the Airbus factory spoke of their frustration after finding the Broughton slip road at junction 35a on the A55 closed due to roadworks.

One worker, who said he was late for the first time in 13 years due to the closure, told the Leader there were no signs to warn drivers.

- A YOUNG soldier faced homelessness when he left the army.

The family of Craig Smith, 23, of Connah’s Quay, were furious to discover he had little chance of obtaining a council house when he returned home from Afghanistan, after being forced to leave due to a knee injury.

October
- MYSTERY continued to surround the tragic deaths of Paul and Jean Laithwaite.

An inquest ruled that no-one will ever know why Mrs Laithwaite shot her sleeping husband in January at their Sealand home before taking her own life with an overdose.

It emerged during the inquest that Mrs Laithwaite was deeply affected by the death of her father a year before she died and had become increasingly religious.

- THE region’s workers suffered another blow when it was revealed 180 jobs were set to be axed at a steel firm.

TATA Steel, previously known as Corus, announced plans to close its Living Solutions business in Shotton.

- A HALLOWEEN-themed window display was changed after complaints it was too scary.

The Party Shop, in Mold, received a backlash against the gruesome display from members of the public, so owner Helen Parry opted to tone down the shop window.

- Flintshire’s answer to Banksy was back.

After a quiet spell the elusive artist, known as Random, was once again leaving his mark across the county as his work was spotted in Shotton.

November

- PET-OWNERS were living in fear after a cat killing rampage swept the county.

Sealand councillor Christine Jones called for an end to the seemingly deliberate deaths of cats in Flintshire after reports of pets being shot or poisoned.

- GOOD news for sport lovers came with the unveiling of new state-of-the-art f
football pitches in Deeside.

The six eagerly anticipated 3G football pitches, complete with turf and floodlighting, were officially opened at Deeside Leisure Centre.

- A YEAR on from suffering horrific bonfire injuries when an aerosol can exploded in his face, brave Joe Baxter was warning others not to suffer the same fate.

Looking almost unrecognisable from the badly burnt young man of 12 months earlier, Mynydd Isa resident Joe, 22, said he had hated looking at himself in the weeks after the fire.

Although now back to living a normal life, he said: “The memory is still there of what happened and I would be terrified about it happening again.”

- TOWARDS the end of the month snow again struck, with disruption caused by a number of burst water pipes.

They included pipes in the chambers at Flintshire Council’s County Hall headquarters, leaving the room out of action for the rest of the year.

December

- A WONDERFUL year for the region’s hottest sporting prospect, Jade Jones, ended in national acclaim.

The Flint tae kwan do champion became Britain’s first gold Youth Olympics medalist in Singapore in the summer, with her achievement recognised across the sporting industry by her being named Welsh Young Sports’ Personality of the Year.

- THE big freeze continued to dominate the headlines, with concerns growing that salt supplies were about to run out.

But Cllr Tony Sharps, Flintshire Council deputy leader, was urging residents not to panic.

He said: “There is more grit on the way and we are quite happy with stocks at the moment.”

- TRAGEDY once more struck the region, as Nikola Jones, 24, of Mynydd Isa, died after her car collided with a bus near Chirk.

Nikola’s father, Andrew Jones, described her as a “happy and full-of-life girl” who loved parties and would be desperately missed by her loving family.

- SCOTTISH Power was branded “Scrooge” after Drury was denied Christmas lights.

The power giant said the village could not have the lights on the grounds of health and safety, leading to villagers saying Christmas is cancelled.

- THREE villages were identified as hotspots for new cases of cancer after a public health investigation into a cement factory.

Health chiefs announced their latest findings on the investigation into Hanson Cement, launched after residents claimed emissions from the Padeswood plant could be behind a perceived rise in respiratory diseases and cancer in the area.

See full story in the Leader

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