REVIEW OF 2013: January to April

Dorset Echo: JANUARY: The county was swamped by floods JANUARY: The county was swamped by floods

JANUARY

AS THE scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal unfolded it was revealed that the disgraced TV presenter had abused four people in Dorset.

The victims made contact with police following the launch of Operation Yewtree – a dedicated investigation set up following the death of the Jim’ll Fix It presenter. Police urged anyone who may have been abused by Savile to contact them.

  •  DORSET was hit by a January deluge with roads closed and the county swamped by floods.

Motorists had to be rescued from their cars as they got stuck in their vehicles in rising flood water.

Homes were sandbagged in a bid to keep out water as the emergency services were inundated with calls.

Days later a big freeze led to numerous accidents on the roads.

And on January 18 a blizzard brought chaos to the county. The military was mobilised as heavy snowfall brought chaos to the transport system, schools and services across the county.

  •  A GIANT gas cloud from France that drifted across Dorset sparked a flurry of 999 calls to emergency services.

Residents were told not to panic because the foul smelling cloud, which crossed the Channel on strong winds, did not present a health risk.

The odour – which was compared to rotting eggs – travelled through Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester.

  •  TRIBUTES flooded in for teenager Ella Pallister who died after a horse riding accident at Kingston Maurward. Talented horsewoman Ella suffered the fatal injuries while taking part in a British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) contest at the college near Dorchester.

In February, hundreds of family members and loved ones packed into a Dorset church to say goodbye to the talented Ella, who ‘lived life to the full’.

FEBRUARY

  • Weymouth Pavilion was saved after the borough council said it would allow a community-led group to take over the running, subject to certain conditions being met.

The move saved the theatre and a tender process started that was later won by the group led by Phil Say. It is now operated as a not-for-profit community interest company supported by volunteers.

However, the council’s decision to close Weymouth’s Tourist Information Centre caused outrage among traders and residents. The TIC, based in the Pavilion, closed later in the year with investigations carried out into other ways to deliver visitors information.

  • HUNDREDS of demonstrators turned out in the rain to protest against public service cuts in Dorset.

Protestors from various unions united to rally against the latest round of cuts. The show of defiance was organised by the Dorchester, Weymouth, Portland and District Trades Union Council.

It came as members of Dorset County Council prepared to vote on whether to agree a further £10.9m of cuts in the coming financial year. The county council approved the measures on February 15.

  • The county was hit by a series of landslips prompting coastguards to warn people to stay away from the coast.

MARCH

TWO more high street names quit Weymouth town centre.

Jeweller H Samuel and Mothercare, both in St Mary Street, closed their doors.

The closures rocked the town centre leaving 20 premises standing empty in the main streets.

  • FIVE teenage girls spoke of how it was a miracle they survived a horror crash in which their car flipped over four times as it plunged down a steep embankment.

Driver Katy Robinson, 17, said she swerved to avoid an oncoming car which had veered onto her side of the road.

The Weymouth College students escaped with minor cuts and bruises and whiplash following the crash close to the Winterborne Monkton junction on the B3159 between Martinstown and Upwey.

  • RESIDENTS woke up to ice, snow and bitterly cold winds in the middle of March, after soaring temperatures the week before.

Winter returned with a vengeance as snow fell across the county in the early hours with biting winds from the north of speeds of up to 47mph.

  • COUNCILLOR Peter Chapman apologised ‘sincerely’ and ‘unreservedly’ for remarks made about female coffee shop staff on a social networking site.

The Weymouth and Portland councillor sparked outrage with women’s groups, business owners and fellow councillors when he posted on his private Facebook profile that the ‘bone idle bitches’ at Costa Dorchester ‘needed a good beating’.

n A DANGEROUS predator who abused a child and attacked many others during a 30-year campaign of abuse was jailed for 20-years.

Kenneth Freemantle, 56, of Fortuneswell, Portland, was branded a danger to the public and was given an additional five years on licence by a judge.

APRIL

AN ISLAMIC extremist from Weymouth who plotted terror atrocities in the UK was jailed for six years.

Richard Dart was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London with co-conspirators Jahangir Alom and Imran Mahmood after admitting engaging in conduct in preparation of acts of terrorism.

  • DEAD seabirds were once again washed up on a Portland beach covered in an oil additive.

More than 50 birds, mainly guillemots, were collected on Chesil Cove with even more found the following weekend.

It came after a major maritime disaster involving seabirds in Dorset in early February blamed on a slick of polyisobutene (PIB).

  •  A WEYMOUTH runner told the Echo how he was lucky to be alive after crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon minutes before two deadly bombs exploded.

Michael Smith was taking part in the marathon to raise money for the Dorset Echo’s Saving for Scarlett appeal in aid of cystic fibrosis sufferer Scarlett Russ.

He described the scenes of horror in the streets of Boston after the blasts went off at the finish line.

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