Review of the Year - January to June 2016

Streets of Battle Festival 2016. Picture by Kim Hall SUS-160505-113432001
Streets of Battle Festival 2016. Picture by Kim Hall SUS-160505-113432001

In the first of a two-part feature, the Battle Observer looks back at what made the headlines this year.

JANUARY

Tree comes down on car travelling down the A21 near Sedlescombe. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-160802-143700001

Tree comes down on car travelling down the A21 near Sedlescombe. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-160802-143700001

• It was a big year for 1066 Country, with the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings coming up later in the year.

To mark this historic occasion, Battle Festival joined forces with Glyndebourne for a specially composed community opera, to be performed over the anniversary weekend.

Schools and members of the community were invited to get involved with the project when it launched this month.

• Plans for a major new development in Robertsbridge, including 95 new homes and commercial space, went on display.

Battle Marbles and Easter Bonnet competition 2016. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-160328-074317001

Battle Marbles and Easter Bonnet competition 2016. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-160328-074317001

The Hodson’s Mill site had stood empty for almost 17 years.

• The year got off to a soggy start when heavy rainfall caused flooding across rural Rother.

Flooding closed a large section of the A21 for several hours, while floodwater also encroached onto the new Link Road. Burwash, Bodiam, Robertsbridge and Brede Valley were among the villages hit by flooding.

• Battle and District Chamber of Commerce, which was responsible for Battle’s Christmas lights for many years, announced that it planned to hand over responsibility for the town’s festive decorations after Christmas 2016.

• Five Bangladeshi men were detained after immigration enforcement officers raided the New Spice restaurant in Robertsbridge.

• A new 50p piece was unveiled by the Royal Mint to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

FEBRUARY

• Battle MP Huw Merriman said he looked forward to returning to serve his constituents after allegations made against him at an employment tribunal were dropped.

Battle Festival world premiere with Glyndebourne. Pupils at Sedlescombe School are pictured with Howard Moody. SUS-160113-115726001

Battle Festival world premiere with Glyndebourne. Pupils at Sedlescombe School are pictured with Howard Moody. SUS-160113-115726001

Patronia Campbell, 49, took the administrators of collapsed Lehman Brothers International Europe to an employment tribunal claiming she was harassed, victimised and unfairly dismissed and asking for £250,000.

She made a number of allegations against the MP.

However on the seventh day of the hearing, as Mr Merriman was due to give evidence, Ms Campbell withdrew all her claims against her former employer.

Mr Merriman had contested Ms Campbell’s claims.

• A woman driving on the A21 at Sedlescombe had a lucky escape after Storm Imogen brought down a huge tree which crashed onto the car she was travelling in.

The woman was left unharmed, but shaken.

Carrie Izzard

Carrie Izzard

• Up to 200 dead pheasants, believed to have been killed in an organised shoot, were ‘dumped and left to rot’ at a public footpath in Ashburnham.

• Dog owners were urged to be on the alert after a spaniel died of Alabama Rot shortly after a walk in Battle Great Woods.

MARCH

• Battle man Gerry Palmer was arrested after Sidley shopkeeper Carrie Izzard was found stabbed to death at her home in Herstmonceux.

Palmer was later charged and jailed for life in September after being found guilty of killing his ex-partner.

• Sussex Police said it would be taking no further action against a Battle-based lettings agency which shut suddenly 12 months ago, leaving clients £130,000 out of pocket.

The force said there was ‘no evidence of dishonest intent’ by the owners of Abbey Gates.

• A small solar energy firm in Battle hit the national headlines after it was hacked by ISIS.

Solar UK, which is based in North Trade Road, had its website shut down for two-and-a-half hours by the so-called Caliphate Cyber Army.

It was revealed the firm was on the hackers target list - alongside The Pentagon.

• Three people were honoured for saving the life of a Belgian tourist at Bodiam Castle.

George Bailey, chairman of 1066 Country Marketing, Janine Adams, manager of the Priory Meadow shopping centre, and Gregg White used the defibrillator at the castle to help the man who had suffered a heart attack.

The trio were given a public commendation by South East Coast Ambulance Service at a special ceremony in Kent.

• A ‘marbellous’ time was had by all as the annual Good Friday Marbles matches returned to Battle.

A record 26 teams took part and as in previous years, there was a glorious selection of colourful costumes on show.

• It was announced that the number of Police Community Support Officers patrolling the streets of Rother was to be halved from 18 to just nine in a Sussex Police reshuffle.

APRIL

• To mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, plans were unveiled for a special, one-off 16 mile race.

The 1066 Way to Battle, which would take place on October 16, was planned to start at Pevensey Castle and follow the well-known ‘1066 way footpath’ to finish at Battle Abbey.

• There was anger as developers sought planning permission to build up to 50 homes on land at Lillybank Farm in Battle.

Historians say part of the land to the west of the farm, Wattles Wish, is the location of the famous ‘Malfosse incident’ which occurred when some of William’s horsemen fell and died while chasing English soldiers in retreat from the Battle of Hastings.

But despite this, in June Rother District Council gave the green light to the development.

• A campaign was launched to raise £35,000 to refurbish the children’s play park in Coronation Gardens, Battle.

• Beacons were lit across Rother on April 21 to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.

MAY

• Battle Town Council launched a bid to raise more than £40,000 to build a special statue to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

• Battle Abbey hosted the opening ceremony of this year’s 1066 Wine and Food Festival. Wine critic and TV presenter Jilly Goolden was guest of honour at the event.

• A Westfield man was jailed for 10 years after drugs with an estimated potential street value of more than £1m were seized by police. Jed Ballard, 27, of Moor Lane was sentenced for conspiracy to supply cocaine, possession with intent to supply MDMA, methoxetamine and amphetamine, possession of cannabis, money laundering and possessing an offensive weapon.

• A giant squid was paraded through Battle as the crowds turned out to enjoy the town’s new street art festival.

JUNE

• Battle mum Kirsty Graves dialled 999 for help after her baby started choking on a piece of plastic - but was shocked to be put on hold.

Luckily the plastic was dislodged and 13-month-old Reggie was none the worse for his ordeal.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service apologised over the incident.

• Award-winning cabinet maker Edward Harringman featured on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. The 22-year-old from Robertsbridge was given a British Empire Medal (BEM).

• Dozens of bikers joined a funeral procession through Battle to honour a young motorcyclist who died in a crash.

Danny Overy, of Castle Gardens, Mountfield, died in the accident on Kane Hythe Road on May 14.

The 22-year-old’s mother Anne led the procession at the event.

• Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of Battle band Keane, paid tribute to a Rye-based soldier who lost his life in Iraq nearly nine years ago.

Tom performed on Horse Guards Parade in memory of Corporal John Rigby.

Corporal Rigby, of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, was fatally injured in a roadside bomb attack near Basra Palace in 2007.

The former Robertsbridge Community college student was a childhood friend of Tom Chaplin’s wife Natalie.

• Darren Turk, who was on trial for a string of sex offences against young boys at Frewen College in Northiam between 1996 and 2002, was found dead at his home in Etchingham.

Sussex Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and an inquest into Turk’s death is expected in the New Year.

• Rother voted to leave the European Union. The area was the first in Sussex to declare, with 59 per cent backing leave.

To be continued.