A fight to save a bus service, another boost for the extension of Watford’s main shopping centre, a new supermarket in South Oxhey and a boost for local tourism were among the stories making the headlines in the Watford Observer five and ten years ago this week.


Fight continues to save 'socially necessary' bus service

A councillor is continuing to fight for an “extremely popular” bus service after it was axed at the end of March.

The 346 Mullany’s service, which ran from the Meriden and Tudor estates to Watford town centre, was discontinued on March 31.

No alternative operators have come forward to take over the route, although Hertfordshire County Council has agreed to re-route alternative services to serve residents in the Balmoral Road area.

Watford Observer:

Councillor Kareen Hastrick says the bus service should be maintained because it is 'socially necessary'

Councillor Kareen Hastrick has been disputing the cessation of the route since the bus company’s decision was revealed in January, and is petitioning the council to financially support the “socially necessary” service.

She said losing the service was “bad news” for Meriden residents who relied on it.

Watford Observer:

An artist's impression of the extension

Hollywood Bowl signs up for multi-million pound shopping centre extension

A shopping centre in Watford has signed up Hollywood Bowl for its multi-million pound extension.

It is the latest brand to sign up to the extension which will expand intu’s retail and leisure offer in the town centre by 400,000 sq ft.

Some 66 per cent of the space at intu Watford’s extension is now let ahead of its opening in 2018, with Debenhams, Cineworld and catering brands Thaikun, TGI Friday and Yo! Sushi among names already confirmed to be joining the centre’s expanding retail and leisure mix.

When fully built, the extension to intu Watford will create a 1.4 million sq ft retail and leisure destination.

Watford Observer:

An artist's impression of the development

Major chain to open supermarket in new housing estate

Developers have confirmed that a Lidl supermarket will open in South Oxhey.

As part of the South Oxhey Initiative - a £150 million regeneration scheme between Three Rivers District Council and Countryside Properties - the 18,880ft budget store will open in 2022.

The redevelopment of South Oxhey will take place in three phases and should be completed in the next five years.

More than 500 homes will be built, along with the supermarket and retail space.


Watford town centre under control, says police chief

Police officers who complained they were losing control of Watford town centre at night now have the resources they need, according to a top police chief.

Assistant Chief Constable Alison Roome-Gifford said Hertfordshire Constabulary had reviewed the policing strategy in the town following a report in the Watford Observer carrying comments from an officer on the ground.

In December Police Sergeant Conrad White wrote a letter to Watford Borough Council, which regulates what hours bars and clubs can open, saying officers were struggling to maintain order.

At a meeting of Hertfordshire Police Authority tonight, to launch the county’s policing plan, ACC Roome-Gifford,said: “The comments were unhelpful and not for publication to the wider community.

“It has led us to review the whole approach to Watford. The new Chief Inspector Nick Caveney has been working very hard and we are starting to see his whole approach around policing working.

“We have been very carefully been assessing the levels of policing.

“These comments would not be made by staff now.”

Watford Observer:

Ruling politician highlights obstacles to 20mph Watford plan

Plans to make all of Watford a 20mph zone have met a lukewarm reception from Hertfordshire’s top politician.

Robert Gordon, the leader of Hertfordshire County Council which has the final say on the scheme, said a “balance needs to be struck” when it comes to efforts to reduce roads deaths.

The Conservative also highlighted a potential bump in the road for the proposals in that current policy mandates all 20mph zones need traffic calming measures to make them self-enforcing.

Councillor Gordon said: “We will examine it, what Watford have asked for. I have received the letter from Dorothy Thornhill.

“The issue around 20mph is that police will not enforce it at that level so you have to have a system of self enforcement, which could be controversial as well as expensive.

“I think measures to reduce speed around schools have higher priority.

“We all want to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on the roads, but a balance has to be struck.”

Harry Potter studio opening benefits town's hotels

Hoteliers in Watford have credited the opening of the new Harry Potter studio tour as the reason behind a huge surge in bookings.

According to a booking website site hotels have seen a 78% leap in customers over the last month, coinciding with the opening of the tour at Warner Bros. Leavesden on Saturday.

The website LateRooms.com said it saw bookings rise for venues in the town weeks in advance of the doors opening to the public for the attraction.

Lynda Matthews, from the company, said:"A tourist attraction opening on this scale always attracts a lot of attention, and we are so pleased that our hotels can benefit from the increase in visitors to the area."