A driver’s remarkable escape after his van fell from the M1, the demolition of a Bushey school, outrage at the decision to allow a ‘monstrous’ block of flats to be built and the reaction to the calling of a snap General Election were among the stories making our headlines five and ten years ago this week.


Van driver escapes with minor injuries after 40ft drop

The driver of a van which dropped around 40ft after crashing through an M1 safety barrier at Garston appears to have "amazingly" escaped with only minor injuries.

Emergency services rushed to the scene after van fell from the M1 southbound and landed on the A405 and High Elms Lane junction at around 12.50pm on Saturday.

Watford Observer:

Firefighters had to cut the driver, who was said to be in his 20s, from the crumpled wreckage of the Northgate rental van.

East of England Ambulance Service spokesman Gary Sanderson said: "On our arrival it was evident the van had fallen approximately 40 feet onto the A405 below the motorway near to High Elms Lane and the van was completely crushed.

"Due to the nature of the call, the Essex Air Ambulance was dispatched to the scene and landed in a nearby field.

"Amazingly a man received slight injuries and following treatment by land and air crews, he was taken by land to Watford General Hospital for further care."

Watford Observer:

Operator Arriva has altered the No 8 route between Abbots Langley and Mount Vernon Hospital leaving many pensioners stranded

Anger as Arriva cuts Kingswood estate from No 8 bus route

Elderly residents in the Kingswood area of Watford were left stranded at a bus stop with no hope of being picked up after the estate was cut from a bus route without their knowledge.

Operator Arriva has altered the No 8 route between Abbots Langley and Mount Vernon Hospital to leave out stops along the A405 North Orbital road.

The change was implemented without any prior warning, resulting in baffled and angry people waiting for buses that were never going to arrive.

The move has left elderly and vulnerable residents on the estate who do no drive cut off from their main source of public transport.

Watford Observer:

Piles of bricks, rubble and a sign promoting healthy eating are all that remain of the old Highwood Primary School in Bushey Mill Lane

Era ends as Highwood School is turned to rubble

Piles of bricks, rubble and a sign promoting healthy eating are all that remain of the old Highwood Primary School in Bushey Mill Lane.

For today (April 20) marked the demolition of the former school site's buildings, following a multi-million pound rebuild in Mead Way.

This morning headteacher Poula Budge joined builders and contractors, employed by Hertfordshire County Council, to bid farewell to the school's old buildings, which had stood on the site since 1949.

As diggers sorted rubble, workers pounded away at walls using sledgehammers.


Watford Observer:

Councillors Mark Hofman and Jane Johnson, and Malden Road residents Alex Kent and Michael James, are worried about the effect of the development on the neighbouring conservation area

Decision to allow 'monstrous' block of flats criticised

Outraged neighbours and councillors have criticised a government planning inspector who overturned a decision to block a “monstrous overdevelopment” from being built.

The verdict to allow the tower block of 93 residential flats to be built on the site of the former Caledonian House in St Albans Road has been described as “shocking” by Councillor Mark Watkin.

Developer Heronslea’s plans were thrown out by Watford Borough Council more than a year ago. However the government’s planning inspector overruled the decision on appeal, giving the scheme the green light.

Cllr Watkin said residents and his fellow Nascot ward councillors were “stunned, shocked, and apoplectic” by the inspector’s intervention.

He said: “Our joint campaign over the last 18 months caused the scheme to be rejected by councillors after officers had recommended approval, and is something we should be proud of.

“But we were fighting the national as well as the local issues. The government has made it clear that developers should be given a free hand in spite of the wishes of the council and its residents.”

Watford Observer:

The Flag in Station Road, Watford

Music venue has 'complete makeover'

The music room at The Flag, in Station Road, is undergoing a complete makeover - including name.

Now known as The Old Brewery, the 200 plus capacity venue is being decorated and new equipment added.

On top of aesthetic changes, a new team have taken over with all gig bookings and there's already a broad selection of live music on offer including the jazz/reggae outfit Dojo, who play on the April 22, in a calendar full of original bands and tribute acts.

Watford Observer:

MP Richard Harrington 'thinks' PM has made right decision

Snap election: Watford MP says PM had 'no choice'

The Watford MP said he "thinks" Theresa May has made the right decision to call for a snap election, but admits she had "no choice".

Conservative MP Richard Harrington has also ensured his constituents that he will stand for re-election following the shock announcement earlier today (April 18).

At 11.15am, the prime minister announced that she will call for a snap general election on June 8, despite months of repeatedly ruling out the possibility.

Mr Harrington said: “The Prime Minister is calling for a general election and Parliament will be voting on that tomorrow. Of course, I found out at the same time as everyone else, but I think the Prime Minister has made the right decision here.

“With the triggering of Article 50 round the corner, we need stability and unity, and this decision ensures that."