Elton opens new AIDs clinic

Screening for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases is not a taboo subject any longer, Elton John announced when he opened a new clinic at Watford General Hospital on Wednesday. Elton was invited to the opening because he is well-known for his worldwide campaigning for AIDs awareness and because of his close associations with the town, as a director of Watford Football Club. Elton said: “It’s a good sign that things like this are happening, because of the stigma that revolves around all sexual diseases, not just HIV. I love this town – it means a lot to me and this new clinic is a big step forward.”

[October 4, 1991]

Search for town hall mole

A mole hunt has been launched to root out the person responsible for leaking secret council documents to local newspapers. On Monday Watford councillors told Chief Executive David Plank to find the mole and take action to prevent any future leaks. But council leader Mike Jackson refused to say what form the hunt would take. In the last three months there have been three leaks of information concerning an officer and the running of a council department.

[October 11, 1991]

Residents claim ‘we were never asked’

Angry scenes erupted between councillors and residents on Wednesday, when residents of Rickmansworth town centre protested they were left out of a vital survey to gauge views intended to shape proposals to revitalise the town. Argument between residents and factions of councillors over the survey on the town centre regeneration scheme, aimed at shedding shabbiness and kicking new life into Rickmansworth, broke out when residents protested they had not seen the full survey report by consultants Halcrow Fox and Associates.

[October 11, 1991]

Council faces housing crisis

Council housing in Watford is in a state of crisis, with little hope of homeless families being found anywhere to live. That was the unhappy picture painted at a meeting of Watford Council’s Housing Management Committee on Tuesday, And it is feared the new Children’s Act, which became law this week, could place an even heavier burden on council housing and make the crisis worse.

[October 18, 1991]

Economy can pick up without Rolls-Royce

The economy is picking up in South West Hertfordshire, and it will continue to do so – with or without Rolls-Royce at Leavesden. That is the initial finding of a huge survey of local businessmen aimed at assessing the knock-on effects of the helicopter engine plant’s proposed closure next year – with the loss of hundreds of jobs. The survey of 600 businesses was initiated out of fear that closure of the works could send the town’s economy into a nosedive. But the 80 respondents did not think so.

[October 18, 1991]

Duchess opens new hospital

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent opened a new private hospital at Mount Vernon, Northwood, on Tuesday. The Duchess visited the physiotherapy department and gymnasium, where she chatted to three patients receiving treatment. Mr Stanley Hall, who has been at Bishops Wood for four months after suffering two strokes, had met the Duchess before, when she opened Mount Vernon Hospital’s scanner. “We will have to stop meeting like this, people will start to talk,” he joked with her.

[October 18, 1991]

Massive facelift for library

A major refurbishment of Watford Library looks set to take place next year at a cost of about £270,000. The inside of the Hempstead Road library will be rearranged, with furniture and fittngs replaced, to make better use of space. A Hertfordshire County Council report in 1988 revealed that Watford Library provides only half of the public service space required for the size of the community it serves. Members of the county council’s Education Committee agreed on Wednesday to include the Watford Library refurbishment in its capital expenditure programme for the next four years.

[October 18, 1991]

Crisis hits fire service

Fire engines at Watford and other stations throughout Hertfordshire are undermanned and serious consequences could result, a top Government fire officer has warned. A backlog of work has built up in the fire safety department, fire stations are old, unsuitable and creating recruitment problems, and administration of the fire service is making inefficient use of resources, he has said. On Tuesday Hertfordshire’s chief fire officer Mr Edward Faulkner also warned he was forced to limit recruitment, and that tighter restrictions could apply next year.

[October 25, 1991]

School ban call for Halloween

Schools should not teach children about Halloween, according to the Association of Christian Teachers (ACT). The group is calling for alternative studies to replace the pagan celebration of the supernatural. But chairman of Hertfordshire County Council’s Education Committee, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Fielder, says children enjoy the festival and are not frightened.

[October 25, 1991]

What was happening in the world in October 1991?

• Forces of the Yugoslav People’s Army invade the area surrounding Dubrovnik in Croatia, beginning the Siege of Dubrovnik, which lasts until May, 1992 (October 1)

• Steffi Graff becomes the youngest woman to win 500 professional tennis matches (October 2)

• Bill Clinton announces he will seek the 1992 Democratic nomination for President of the United States (October 3)

• The first Sumo tournament to be held outside Japan is hosted at the Royal Albert Hall in London (October 9)

• In Russia, the KGB is replaced by the SVR (October 11)

• The Oakland Hills firestorm kills 25 and destroys over 3,000 homes in California (October 20)

• The Law Lords unanimously decide that spousal rape is a crime in England and Wales (October 23)

• The first free parliamentary elections are held in Poland (October 27)

• The 1991 Perfect Storm strikes the north-eastern United States and Atlantic Canada, causing over $200million in damage and resulting in 12 fatalities (October 28)

• The American Galileo spacecraft becomes the first probe to visit an asteroid (October 29)