A snapshot of life in March 1990

Call for more policemen

More policemen are needed in Watford to combat rising crime and to meet community policing needs. Hertfordshire Constabulary Chief Constable Mr Trefor Morris has asked for more beat constables and an increase in the number of officers able to deal with violent incidents. Members of Herts County Council’s Police Personal and Urgency Committee noted on Monday that Mr Morris wants an extra 72 uniformed officers over the next three years and agreed to approach the Home Secretary about the requirements. The increasing number of houses in west Watford means police need an extra beat constable. Mr Morris described the area as extremely busy.

[March 2, 1990]

Welcome to radio roadshow

Pop stars joined top DJs Gary Davies and Liz Kershaw at the Bricket Wood Sports Centre last week for Radio 1’s Winter Warmer Roadshow. About a thousand screaming spectators spent three hours at the centre watching the live show, which included music, competitions, and pop stars Lonnie Gordon and Rebel MC miming to their latest records. The broadcast from Bricket Wood was for Gary Davies’ lunchtime ‘Bit in the Middle’ show on Radio 1. It was part of a week of roadshows organised by the radio station in places as far afield as Birmingham and Norwich to celebrate the station’s recent switch to FM stereo.

[March 2, 1990]

They came, they saw, they behaved themselves

Few supporters of Watford or Leeds United football clubs would have had any idea of the police preparation that went into Saturday’s game at Vicarage Road. Two hours before kick-off 180 police officers were standing like rows of toy soldiers in stands soon to be packed by thousands of cheering supporters. About 4,500 Leeds supporters and 40 coaches were expected. In spite of the preparations, Inspector McPhillips said there is usually very little violence at Watford’s ground. “Watford are a fairly well-balanced crowd and the visiting crowds behave accordingly,” he said. For about the first 20 minutes of the game Sergeant Ted Wrangler received reports on his police radio of ticketless fans trying to get in by climbing walls while others were spotted watching the game from the tops of buildings. Four drunk and disorderly arrests were made.

[March 9, 1990]

Ghost town claim

Traders in Lower High Street claim that Watford Borough Council has turned the area near the Harlequin development into a ghost town. They are resentful of the lack of support given by the council during the three-year construction period of the Harlequin shopping centre. To add insult to injury, claim shopowners, rates on certain businesses have risen as services provided by the council have dropped. The council seems to have forgotten about us, declared shopowners. No Christmas lights were provided and even during normal trading periods streetlighting is poorly maintained. Mr J. Hartog, director of M.H. Interiors on Lower High Street, said: “We have supported this lousy town for 18 years and all we have received is a kick in the teeth.”

[March 23, 1990]

Foundation for health

The Secretary of State for Health, Kenneth Clarke, laid the foundation stone for a new private hospital in the grounds of Mount Vernon Hospital on Tuesday. The new 50 bed hospital, which is to be called the Northwood Private Hospital at Mount Vernon, will have a three-bedded intensive care unit, two theatres, and a range of outpatient facilities. It is hoped the hospital will open to its first patients early next year.

[March 30, 1990]

Tesco site inquiry

Cries of “Rubbish!” were heard when a Tesco representative told residents they would notice little difference in the volume of traffic through their area of Rickmansworth if a Tesco store is built. Mr Ray Vandermeer, QC, was opening Tesco’s case at Tuesday’s start of the Public Inquiry into the firm’s appeal for planning permission. Three Rivers Council is opposing the scheme. Scores of residents jammed the chamber of Chorleywood House at the start of the hearing. Mr Vandermeer said traffic volumes along Harefield Road west of the site would reach 570 vehicles per hour. “You will notice little difference,” he said. This apparent direct address to the public met with a chorus of protest.

[March 30, 1990]

What was happening in the world in March 1990?

• A fire at the Sheraton Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, kills 16 people (March 1)

• The International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition completes the first dog sled crossing of Antarctica (March 3)

• Police seal off Brixton in south London after another night of protests against the poll tax (March 9)

• The Lithuanian SSR declares independence from the Soviet Union (March 11)

• Sixty-four tornadoes across six US states leave two dead and cause $500million in damage (March 11-13)

• Mikhail Gorbachev is elected as the first ever President of the Soviet Union (March 15)

• Iraq hangs British journalist Farzad Bazoft for spying (March 15)

• Twelve paintings and a Shang dynasty vase are stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, by two thieves posing as police officers, in the largest art theft in US history (March 18)

• After 75 years of South African rule, Namibia becomes independent (March 21)

• Driving Miss Daisy wins Best Picture at the 62nd Academy Awards (March 26)

• A massive anti-poll tax demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London, turns into a riot; 471 people are injured and 341 are arrested (March 31)