A year to remember: Looking back at 2020 in Redbridge
- Credit: Roy Chacko
It’s been a year we will all remember for the virus which has changed our lives. But 2020 wasn’t all about Covid.
Developers unveiled plans to build 672 homes, a multi-storey primary school and offices on the site of Ilford Retail Park, High Road. Montreux Ilford Developments applied to Redbridge Council for outline planning permission.
Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith was knighted. Muslimah Sports Associaton founder Yashmin Harun was awarded the BEM, GP and community leader Sudarshan Kapur was made an MBE and Yusuf Patel was made an MBE for services to the community.
Three men were stabbed to death in Elmstead Road, Seven Kings. Police believed Narinder Singh Lubhaya, Harinder Kumar and Malkit Singh Dhillon (known as Baljinder Singh) had been involved in an altercation with two other men. Shocked residents called for more CCTV and an increase in neighbourhood policing.
Telecomms giant BT was forced to move a number of parking restriction signs outside its Ilford offices after it was found to have been wrongly issuing tickets to drivers parked legally on public land in Prior Road.
Two cars and a van were destroyed when a generator explosed outside Woodford Methodist Church in Derby Road, South Woodford. Fire investigators believed it was caused accidentally by a fuel spill. One man was treated at the scene by paramedics.
The first tenants moved into Malachi Place, Ilford, five years after the project was first dreamed up by a 10-year-old boy who wanted to help the homeless. The Salvation Army teamed up with Redbridge Council, backed by the Recorder and a number of other organisations, to create homes from shipping containers to get rough sleepers off Ilford’s streets.
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Farnham Green Primary School, Seven Kings, was celebrating after seeing its Ofsted rated upgraded to Good for the first time in more than 10 years. Inspectors from the education watchdog said pupils felt special and happy and staff showed a real interest in them.
Outgoing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the borough and spoke about the problem of homelessness. He was joined by Ilford South MP Sam Tarry on a visit to Seven Kings School, Ley Street and praised the Salvation Army’s Malachi Place project helping rough sleepers.
And then Redbridge recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19. Infections spread rapidly and the country went into lockdown, but after the initial shock at the seriousness of the outbreak, the crisis started to bring out the best in our communities. Volunteers teamed up to help those in need through Mutual Aid groups, and restaurants forced to close delivered food instead to NHS workers.
- 1 Medics treat six people after three-car crash in Ilford
- 2 Valentines Park bench dedicated to couple described as 'pillars of community'
- 3 Driver dies after Ilford shopfront crash
- 4 Three new items Redbridge residents can recycle
- 5 Man dies after fall near Hainault station
- 6 Thames Water says its drainage systems did not fail during flash floods
- 7 Covid cases drop at Queen’s and King George hospitals
- 8 Driver in critical condition after Ilford shop crash
- 9 Jailed: ‘Opportunistic predator’ who kidnapped and raped woman
- 10 Fireaway pizza branch to open in South Woodford
The Recorder launched #ThereWithYou to highlight the work being done by volunteers and to help people access any support they needed. We also highlighted those shops accused of hiking up prices as panic-buying meant many people could not buy essentials like soap, rice, pasta and toilet rolls.
In just one week 1,300 people signed up for a council-led volunteer service to provide support during lockdown. Redbridge Joins Together was set up to connect people who needed support during isolation with volunteers keen to help. Council leader Jas Athwal said: “The vast number of local people who’ve signed up to the group and the offers of help and support really is a testament to the goodwill and kindness of the people of Redbridge.” Meanwhile, with children at home, schools around the borough used their 3D printers to make much-needed PPE for hospital staff.
Tragedy hit Newbury Park when two young children were stabbed to death in their home by their father. Nineteen-month-old Pavinya Nithiyakumar and her three-year-old brother Nigish were found at their home in Aldborough Road North. Their father was taken to hospital in a critical condition but later recovered and was charged. In November he admitting killing them while he was suffering from a delusional disorder.
The 75th anniversary of VE Day gave people a chance to celebrate despite lockdown. Socially distanced street parties were held and homes were decorated with Union Jack flags. In South Woodford fitness instructor Karen Smith held a wartime workout from her doorstep with neighbours exercising in the street to music from the 1940s.
Deaf sisters Coco Briden and Mandy Docker, from South Woodford, launched a crowdfunding page in a bid to fulfil their dream of running a food truck for deaf people. They said there was a need for a safe space and learning centre for the deaf community.
Tributes were paid to John Terence Slade, founder of Redbridge Talking Newspaper, who died at the age of 83 after contracting Covid-19. He had helped thousands of blind people become more independent through his voluntary work and inventions. He had lived in Seven Kings for 50 years but moved to the Midlands five years ago to be nearer family.
BBC One aired a documentary series about the nursing staff at King George Hospital, Goodmayes, and Queen’s in Romford. The five-part series focused on an initiative by the hospital trust designed the reduce the number of nurses leaving their jobs.
The Rev Andrew Appiah, curate of Holy Trinity Church, Barkingside, built a communal fish pond in his front garden to bring cheer to his community. Neighbours helped him create the pond and everyone got involved in naming the fish. He said: “We all know the situation we’re in and we just felt that we needed to do something to bring some hope, light and laughter into the hearts of people.”
More shops were allowed to reopen after lockdown which meant the introduction of special measures like hand-sanitiser stations and one-way systems at The Exchange, Ilford and shoppers having to be prepared to queue outside if stores were too busy.
Six-year-olds Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq from Seven Kings Primary School held a Lemonade for Yemen Aid stand to help the humanitarian crisis and raised about £5,000. They made promotional videos and urged all their school friends to come along. But after their story appeared in the Recorder, their charity fundraiser went viral, raising another £10,000. And in September movie star Angelina Jolie sent them a donation and a letter.
St Joseph’s Convent School for Girls in Wanstead closed down after 102 years after failing to find an investor.
The borough’s first permanent walk-through Covid testing centre opened in Mildmay Road car park, Ilford.
Redbridge Council announced its first Quiet Streets pilot. The aim was to stop rat running, speeding and accident black spots.
Pubs and hairdressers were finally allowed to reopen. David Christof, of the Prince of Wales in Green Lane, Ilford, said his regulars had been “over the moon” to return to their local.
A group of people set up Loxford Gardeners during lockdown to revitalise Loxford Park. They held a series of litter picks, cleared brambles to open up a path and were given plants to freshen up the flower beds by Redbridge Council’s leisure arm Vision. Wajid Ali, one of the organisers, said the meet-ups had been a great way to safely bring the community together.
Brothers Aron, Noah and Jonah Tiller - aged 12, 10 and six – held a sunflower growing competition among their neighbours in South Woodford. In May the boys gave out seedlings and challenged neighbours to see who could grow the tallest. In August the boys were back to measure the plants. The winner was Bhupendra Patel whose sunflower grew to more than 5ft tall and sprouted 21 heads.
The man who killed Hainault woman Michelle Samaraweera in Walthamstow 11 years ago was finally brought to justice. Aman Vyas was found guilty of Michelle’s murder and of raping five other women.
Council leader Jas Athwal called for an investigation into the handling of a complaint which prevented him from standing in last year’s general election. He was cleared of all allegations against him and reinstated into the Labour Party after its National Constitutional Committee cleared him of any wrongdoing. Cllr Athwal said the year-long process had been torture and the complaint against him had been malicious.
The first Quiet Streets were launched with planters installed at one end of some roads in a bid to stop rat running. But residents argued the scheme did not fit the area’s needs. The council argued the pilot scheme was simply a part of the consultation process but opponents made their objections clear. Almost 4,000 signed a petition calling for the removal of the planters and more than 150 attended a meeting chaired by Kartik Parekh. They claimed the scheme was creating chaos in their neighbourhood.
The Quiet Streets bollards were removed after causing delays for emergency vehicles. The trial scheme, which had been due to last until the end of the year, was fiercely opposed by some residents. But others were disappointed that the council abandoned it so quickly instead of analysing the results after several months.
The Recorder launched our Shop Local campaign to try to help our struggling independent businesses by telling their stories and encouraging the community to support them during the pandemic.
It was announced Fairlop Waters Country Park would be expanded by 250 acres over the coming years and residents were invited to help shape its future through public consultation with the council over the next three months.
Kenneth More Theatre, which held its first live show in August following the first lockdown, announced plans to live stream its Snow White and Seven Dwarfs panto from December 9.
An app encouraging people to get active launched with cash prizes. Street Tag is a free app that turns activities like walking, running or cycling into a game. Schools and community teams can generate points by scanning virtual tags which are dotted around the borough. It is funded by the council.
The usual Remembrance Sunday services had to be scaled back but Redbridge did not forget the fallen. A small gathering paid their respects at Ilford War Memorial, Vision RCL produced a film and Fairlop Heritage Group put together a virtual ceremony.
King George Hospital, Goodmayes, announced it would be closing its children’s A&E department overnight during the winter as part of its plans to manage the coronavirus pandemic. Parents needing to take a child to A&E between 9pm and 9am would have to go to Queen’s Hospital, Romford.
Building work began on the Mercato Ilford covered food market, after delays caused by the Covid crisis.
Woodford Town FC finally returned to the borough, where they belong. A £1.6m renovation project has finally allowed the club to play their Essex Senior Football League home matches at Ashton Playing Fields, Chigwell Road. They have not been able to play in Woodford Green since 1993, having had a nomadic existence, playing at Harlow Town, Broxbourne and Brimsdown.
Tributes poured in after the sudden death at 88 of Ron Jeffries, a former magistrate and perpetual campaigner. He was a stalwart of the community in Aldborough Hatch and passionate about protecting Fairlop Waters. He was also a regular contributor to the Recorder.
The council launched a campaign to try to change behaviour and tackle fly-tipping. The Illegal Dumping campaign kicked off with a series of videos highlighting the harmful impact fly-tipping has on communities, attracting vermin and posing a danger. Posters feature on vans driven around hotspots and buses in problem areas carry advertising.