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News Review 2003

The year started with a heavy fall of snow over southeast England, leading to gridlock throughout North Mymms, and a day off school for local children. Repairs began on Folly Arch, resulting in the supports being removed from the listed building. Chancellor’s School bid for, and won, special status in maths and computing. Local man Michael Jonas was awarded the MBE for services to the environment. Police warned that they might use public nuisance legislation to keep control of gangs of youths. And volunteers from the North Mymms Youth and Community Centre were forced to clear up once again after another spate of vandalism.


snow storms
Snow storms hit Brookmans Park
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

The weather dominated the start of 2002, with flooding forecast for Mimmshall Brook, and heavy snow falls bringing gridlock on local roads.

A flood warning was issued for the River Colne, which flows east, and south from North Mymms.

On Thursday 2 January, Mimmshall Brook was flowing a metre lower than it was during the floods of October 2000, when local residents had to evacuate their homes.

Later in the month a heavy fall of snow caused widespread traffic problems in Brookmans Park, with many roads difficult to negotiate and some almost impassable.

Long tail backs built up on most roads as cars became stuck in the drifts. Parents collecting children from school, and other motorists driving through the village, were caught unawares as many roads became blocked by snow and cars began skidding and blocking others.

Many local school were closed because of the snow, leading to a ‘snow day’ for local children. Click here to see two picture galleries of the snow.


red boxes
Boxes were issued for recycling glass
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch celebrated 20 years serving the community in February.

Since the first meeting in 1982 co-ordinators have been gathering every four months.

Minutes have been kept of every meeting since the group's inception, creating an archive of details of local crime figures and issues affecting the community.

Local residents were issued with boxes for recycling bottles, as the council stepped up it's waste recycling efforts. Welwyn Hatfield District Council handed out 40,000 boxes to be collected once a month.

And an avenue of trees was planted across the Leach Fields by volunteers from Gobions Woodland Trust and the local community to mark the Millennium. The trees included oak, alder, and holly.


Folly Arch
Repairs began on Folly Arch
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

Flood alleviation work began along Mimmshall Brook leading to months of local diversions.

Metal shoring was introduced to raise the west bank of the brook, along with a set of flood gates to reduce flow. The work involved the removal of some trees, but plans included a new 'nature area' was announced to compensate.

A public meeting on law and order heard demands for more to be done to deal with youth crime and abusive gangs. The issue dominated a two-hour meeting held at Brookmans Park’s United Reform Church, attended by almost 100 people. A Welham Green couple claimed they were "prisoners in their own home", afraid to go the local shops for fear of being abused and assaulted by local youths.

Around twenty local residents turned up at the Royal Veterinary College's Hawkshead campus to give their views on plans for expansion on the site. Professor Lance Lanyon, the principal, outlined the history of the RVC, and spoke about the increasing need for people qualified in veterinary science.

Repairs began on Folly Arch in Little Heath to try to save the listed building. Metal supports had been holding the arch together since September 1999, after cracks in the structure widened.

North Mymms Parish Council heard plans for the use of hidden cameras to try to catch fly-tippers. A council meeting also heard a suggestion that the parish council should leaflet local homes warning residents about ‘cowboy’ gardening companies who post leaflets door-to-door offering cheap deals to prune and clear, and who sometimes dispose of the garden waste illegally to save on the cost of using an official recycling site.


The blood donation service decided to pull out of Brookmans Park, and cancel its twice yearly visit. A spokesperson for the service said that despite a good response from the local community, the number of people turning up for the sessions did not justify holding them.

Police warned of an increase in thefts from garages and shed. They also warned people not to keep valuable items, such as bicycles, golf clubs, or fishing tackle in outbuildings unless they are protected by additional security.

A memorial service was held for the victims of the Potters Bar train crash. A garden, in memory of the seven people who died, was opened near Potters Bar station. It features a spiral path edged by large natural stone blocks that also provide a seated area. Surrounding the seating area is a ring of ornamental pear trees (Pyrus calleryana - Chanticleer) selected for attractive white blossom in April and May and providing a natural screen for those using the garden.


One of the Gobions glass slides
One of the Gobions glass slides

A set of old glass slides of Gobions was uncovered. Copies made so that the images could be reproduced on this site, and made available for all to see.

Volunteers who run the North Mymms Youth and Community Centre were again clearing up after vandalism. According to Martin Ferdinando, one of the centre’s management committee, drawers were emptied and the contents strewn all over the floor.

He says doors to cupboards that were locked and which contained no more than children's plates, cutlery and art materials, were just ripped off their hinges. Mr Ferdinando said the vandalism was pointless. No money is kept at the centre and there is little of value stored there.

Police issued a warning of an ‘armed and dangerous’ intruder in the area. Police said a male offender had been forcing his way into a number of homes, and threatening residents with knives and other objects.


Village Day raised £7,000
Village Day raised £7,000
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

A local chess team had a triple success in countywide competitions. The team had been undefeated in a league match since its first campaign in 2000, drawing just two matches during that period.

Brookmans Park Village Day had an ‘Animal Magic’ theme, and raised more than £7,000 for the primary school's PTA funds. The money was put aside for new infant playground equipment.

Michael Jonas, of Gobions Woodland Trust, was awarded an MBE for his services to the environment, and the community. Michael was the driving force behind the local community’s purchase of Gobions Wood in 1985, which has been enjoyed by the local community ever since.

The ticket machines at Brookmans Park Station were again raided for cash and put out of action, leading to problems for rail travellers. Police say thieves carried out a similar raid at two other local stations


Mollie King stepped down after 25 years as chair of the WEA
Mollie King stepped down after 25 years as chair of the WEA
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

Chancellor’s school applied for, and got, specialist status in mathematics and computing. The change took effect from September 2003. Chancellor’s, like all the other schools to be given specialist status, received a one-off capital grant of £100,000, and £123 per pupil, initially for four years.

Mollie King stood down after 25 years as chair of the Brookmans Park Workers' Educational Association (WEA). "It has been very rewarding, I don't know how many people I have met over the years would have coped without it, particularly mothers who felt tied to the home. It gave them a chance to get out, broaden their minds and learn something," Molly said.

North Mymms Parish Council launched a parish environmental action plan (PEAP) to explore how the countryside could be enhanced for the benefit of all. A steering committee was formed to seek the views of the public as to what needs to be done to enhance the local countryside, and what facilities people would like to see made available.


Police issued a school holiday warning for local children. Hertfordshire Constabulary also increased the number of patrols in an effort to help young people stay safe. In a three-pronged warning officers says youngsters need to be aware of the dangers of trespass and damage, robbery and street crime, and 'stranger danger'.

A number of fires in Gobions led to a warning from the fire service following several incidents where a dead tree and dry grass had been set alight. Police and fire fighters called on parents and guardians to warn children not to play with fire in fields and woodland areas. It followed a number of field fires, many of which were started deliberately.

In one, fire officers and police were called to Brookmans Park’s Leach Fields after a fire spread out of control across the local grassland. It was the third such fire to be started deliberately at the the old oak tree in the middle of the Leach Fields in as many weeks.


Improved footpaths could be one result of the North Mymms PEAP
Improved footpaths could be one result of the North Mymms PEAP
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

The council issued a warning about a driveway con, urging local residents not to accept cheap quotes from bogus local authority workers. Workmen, often wearing yellow jackets and carrying clipboards, had been calling at homes offering to resurface drives with tarmac left over from nearby roadworks. Herts says such contractors were not connected with the authority, and material left over from roadworks was never disposed of in this way.

A parish travel plan (PTP) was mooted, and a group of people gathered to discuss the feasibility and need for such a programme. It was agreed to form a working group, including parish councillors, local residents, officers from Hertfordshire Highways, school representatives, and other interested groups. The working groups role would be to examine the information returned in the questionnaire, identify any transport issues, suggest solutions, and draw up an action plan.

Local police threatened to use public nuisance legislation following a number of incident including gangs of youths in Brookmans Park village centre. The local community police officer said that if the rate of complaints continued at the current level, serious consideration would be given to using public nuisance legislation. This, he said, could result in names and addresses being taken and warnings given. Any subsequent visits to the area by the offenders, with the same behavioural traits, possibly leading to arrests.


Trains leaving early because of leaves
Trains leaving early because of leaves
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

WAGN introduced a ‘leaf fall’ timetable to try to maintain services as autumn leaves continued to cause problems on the rails. Trains from Welham Green and Brookmans Park departed a few minutes early from to allow for any possible delays caused by leaves on the track.

Police warned about Halloween ‘intimidation’, and announced that patrols would be stepped up to deal with inappropriate and threatening behaviour. They were particularly concerned about youngsters calling at the homes of elderly residents. Officers say troublemakers would be dealt with robustly, and extra community patrols were on duty over the Halloween period.

Hertfordshire issued a firework safety warning. The county joined a national campaign calling for tighter firework controls. The council urged people to attend organised displays, which the authority said are far safer than having displays at home


The local authority carried out spot checks on under-age drinking, and announced tougher measures for dealing with outlets that supply alcohol to youngsters. Herts said spot-checks on targeted off-licences revealed that more than a third sold alcohol to under age drinkers. Despite warning licensees to be on their guard, and reminding them of the consequences of breaking the law, 34% of all the licensed premises visited still sold alcohol to 13 and 14-year-old test purchasers.

A group of shopkeepers around Bradmore Green began a campaign called 'Work Together' to try to get all shopworkers to park elsewhere. They said trade was being lost because of the shortage of local parking spaces. Some shop keepers felt staff from other businesses in the village had been taking up parking spaces, and preventing shoppers being able to park near the local shops. They said it was losing some shops valuable trade.


A woman was attacked in Gobions
A woman was attacked in Gobions
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

Local residents were warned to be on their guard for bogus social workers either calling by phone or knocking at doors. According to the council, several clients of the council’s Adult Care Service reported receiving calls, which they thought were from the council’s social workers and occupational therapy staff. In all cases, the county council said, the calls did not come from them, and the authority praised clients who were suspicious and contacted the local authority.

A woman walking alone in Gobions was attacked by a male. Police issued a warning not to walk in the area alone while they investigated the crime. According to police, the woman was walking along one of the paths through the woods, when a man approached her from behind, grabbed her shoulders, and pushed her to the ground. The woman managed to get to her feet again, and ran off in the direction of Little Heath. Police say she was uninjured, but was left suffering from shock. It's thought the man ran into the woods.

A week later a second woman was left in a 'very distressed state', after being followed by a 'scruffy man'. Police said the attacker might be sleeping rough in Gobions. Police urged the public to avoid any males walking in the area alone, without a dog, and acting suspiciously.

December 2003

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