Sidmouth Review of the Year - January to March

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 December 2011

Kirsty and Nathan with their son Warren at their new house on Regency Walk.  Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1974-11-11SH

Kirsty and Nathan with their son Warren at their new house on Regency Walk. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1974-11-11SH

Archant

A look back on events in Sidmouth in 2011.

JANUARY

AN inferno gripped the derelict Fortfield Hotel.

More than 80 firefighters tackled flames as 30 per cent of the building’s roof and top floor were severely damaged by flames.

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WOULD-BE developers revealed they hoped to demolish the fire-hit Fortfield Hotel and build 48 apartments in its place.

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HUNDREDS of families were told of “shock” plans to merge three Sidmouth schools into one.

Headteachers at St Nicholas Junior, All Saints Infants and Sidmouth Infants Schools insisted proposals would safeguard youngsters’ education in the town for years to come.

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to install parking meters in Sidmouth town-centre were halted.

Highways chiefs insisted the proposed scheme had been put on hold and not scrapped.

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PLUCKY Rory the dog found himself stranded 100 feet up a Sidmouth cliff.

The terrier had to be rescued by coastguard after chasing a rabbit at Jacobs Ladder.

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SIDMOUTH College exceeded attainment performance targets at GCSE level for the first time ever.

The achievement saw the institution rank ninth in Devon league tables.

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MEMBERS of Sidmouth Garden Club expressed sadness that the cherished organisation folded after more than 80 years.

A shortage of vital committee members and dwindling membership was blamed.

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A HOPEFUL developer of the Fortfield Hotel site offered around £1 million to boost town tourism and affordable housing in a bid to build apartments there.

More than 150 people attended an exhibition of early designs at Kennaway House.

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ARSONISTS sparked a Sidmouth barn blaze with which firefighters battled for more than 24 hours.

Detectives launched a criminal investigation into the inferno on land in Core Hill Lane.

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A SECOND inferno in the space of just over a month gripped the Fortfield Hotel.

Firefighters said they had “déjà vu” and labelled the blaze as the town centre’s biggest in decades. Police launched an arson investigation.

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HOPES of a community theatre production for the Sid Valley got a huge boost when residents turned out in force for a special workshop.

The event helped bolster the cast of Johnny Jack’s War.

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FEBRUARY

OWNERS of Stowford Lodge said the long-term future of the valued lifeline for dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers and their carers was “economically unsustainable”.

Carers were upset over rumours the facility could close.

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A CONCERNED family-of-four labelled living just feet from Sidmouth’s blaze-hit Fortfield Hotel as a “nightmare”.

Mike and Sasha Harrison feared a possible third inferno at the unstable premises would put their children and home at risk.

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A HERALD campaign saw £52,000 raised to buy Sidmouth Living with Cancer a new mini-bus.

The bus was officially launched and all those who contributed to the fundraising effort praised.

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MAJOR plans to transform Sidmouth’s Westcliff Hotel – that included the creation of 26 new rooms and eight apartments – were given the go-ahead.

Owners of the Manor Road venue hoped extensive blueprints for a residential development, high quality rooms, increased dining and functions capacity and improved car parking would secure the hotel’s future.

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FEARS policing levels in Sidmouth could go from “a Rolls Royce standard to a Ford Cortina” were voiced by town councillors as the force was set to lose a fifth of its officers.

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TOWN councillors launched a £40,000 bid to transform a children’s play area at The Ham.

Families and residents were given the chance to decide what equipment would be installed as part of the project.

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AN 11-year-old boy was rescued in Sidmouth after spending all night stranded on a beach after injuring himself walking from Seaton to the town.

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RESIDENTS from the Sidmouth area described the frantic moments they were caught up in an earthquake that rocked New Zealand.

Loved-ones of Sue Wiltshire and Richard Fuell got a nightmare wake-up call when they heard of the disaster.

Both saw scenes of devastation but escaped the earthquake unhurt .

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SOME Sidmouth traders revealed how they’d been forced to use personal credit cards to buy stock because banks had clamped down on lending.

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A SIDMOUTH pensioner was thankful to television presenter Nick Knowles after the DIY SOS star rushed to his aid following a car crash in the town centre.

The celebrity alerted police to the accident in Fore Street.

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MARCH

TRADERS warned town-centre pedestrianisation would be the “death knell” of Sidmouth.

Vinnicombes owner Sheila Kerridge issued the warning at a chamber of commerce meeting.

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IT was revealed around £1 million would be spent resurfacing roads in the Sidmouth area.

Temple Street, Vicarage Road and Radway were among roads targeted in the county council scheme.

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AN environmentally friendly group’s £50,000 bid to improve the Byes in Sidmouth won the backing of the district council.

The BEE Project created a buzz in its ambitions to herald more biodiversity and improve usage of the parkland.

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A BUS service used by schoolchildren in Sidmouth was axed.

The 70SCH, which ran from Sidbury to All Saints Infants and St Nicholas Junior Schools, fell victim to a round of county council cuts.

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DEVON County Council announced a brand new state-of-the-art recycling centre for Sidmouth would be situated at the Bowd.

The proposed site garnered overwhelming public support in a poll.

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JUDI Spiers opened a newly refurbished Cats Protection shop in Sidmouth High Street.

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A SIDMOUTH shopkeeper was left out of pocket when a vandal daubed racist and foul-mouthed ramblings on his store.

Pure Indulgence owner Steven Kendall-Torry vowed to install CCTV following the incident.

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WORK to completely demolish Sidmouth’s fire-ravaged Fortfield Hotel began.

Developer ZeroC unveiled a vision for 40 flats it wanted to see rise from the ruins. The number of dwellings was later reduced.

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FAMILIES moved into affordable homes built in Stowford Rise.

Devon and Cornwall Housing and East Devon District Council opened the first phase of the 133 dwelling development.

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DESPICABLE thieves stole catalytic converters from minibuses belonging to two Sidmouth charities.

Sidmouth Living with Cancer and Sidmouth Voluntary Services fell victim to criminals looking to profit from valuable metals found in the parts.

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A TERRIFIED Sidmouth schoolboy was rescued from waist-deep mud when a day of fossiling fun ended in rescue drama.

A family outing to Charmouth beach took a horror turn when 10-year-old Callum Currie suddenly sank into soft ground while walking below cliffs.


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