REVIEW OF THE YEAR: Top Ham&High stories of 2013
PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 December 2013
Reporter Tim Lamden looks back at the Ham&High’s top stories of 2013.
The new year kicked off with some belt-tightening from Boris Johnson who announced that Hampstead police station would close, as well as Belsize fire station, as part of London-wide fire and police station closures to cut City Hall costs.
The Ham&High revealed a High Court challenge by banking tycoon Sir Victor Blank - backed by TV presenter Richard Madeley and top judge Sir Brian Leveson - to stop plans for a basement swimming pool in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Conservative Party co-chairman Grant Shapps said the Hampstead and Kilburn seat is the party’s top target in the 2015 general election, as Camden councillor Simon Marcus was selected as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
Thousands of people took part in a two-mile march to the Whittington Hospital as part of a successful campaign backed by the Ham&High to stop health bosses selling off almost a third of the hospital’s site.
Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher passed away aged 87, with Camden firm Leverton & Sons organising the former Finchley MP’s funeral.
Disabled pensioner Maria Nash, 68, lost her High Court battle to stop Barnet Council’s controversial outsourcing scheme One Barnet.
Former Mayor of Barnet Brian Coleman suffered a spectacular fall from grace as he pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court to assaulting a woman and received a fine. The Totteridge councillor was subsequently expelled from the Conservative Party.
Britain’s most destructive plant – known as Japanese knotweed – was found around some of Hampstead’s most exclusive homes, belonging to TV presenter Esther Rantzen, footballer Thierry Henry and TV presenter Melanie Sykes. The plant can damage a property’s foundations and cause its value to drop.
The owner of Hampstead’s much-loved crepe stand La Creperie De Hampstead called in solicitors for a legal battle with the King William IV pub next door, claiming the pub was trying to turf him out after more than three decades.
Health bosses scrapped plans to sell off a third of the Whittington Hospital’s buildings and axe hundreds of staff following a campaign and protest march supported by the Ham&High.
Camden Council approved plans to introduce a blanket 20mph speed limit across the borough to improve safety on Camden’s roads.
Camden councillor Tulip Siddiq beat off competition from fellow Camden councillor Sally Gimson and Hackney councillor Sophie Linden to be named Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.
A safety review was launched at Hampstead Heath ponds after Sussie Ahlberg, 51, drowned mysteriously while swimming in Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond.
Britpop legends Suede kicked off the Live by the Lake concerts at Kenwood House which took place over two weekends for the first time ever this year, rather than the traditional eight.
The academic year began with the opening of two new schools in Camden and Barnet. Free school Abacus Belsize Primary opened in Old Hampstead Town Hall, in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, while secondary school the Archer Academy opened in Beaumont Close, East Finchley.
Brand new Jewish community and cultural centre JW3 opened in a £50million purpose-built centre in Finchley Road.
A dog walker in Highgate was the first to spot a wallaby hopping around Hampstead Heath – the mystery marsupial was eventually rescued by the RSPCA and sadly died during an operation on a broken foot.
Ferocious winds ripped apart up to 100 trees on Hampstead Heath in less than two hours as one of the worst storms in years hit the UK.
McDonald’s in Hampstead High Street, which faced a 5,000-strong campaign opposing its opening in 1992, closed after 21 years in the area.
Camden Council became only the second council in London to bring in laws licensing busking across the borough.
The Heath and Hampstead Society launched its Dam Nonsense campaign calling for the City of London Corporation to revise a controversial dam-building project which critics claim will permanently disfigure Hampstead Heath.
Escaped prisoner Lee Cyrus, 48, is sentenced to life in prison for a terrifying six-week spree of attacks on lone women walking and living around Hampstead Heath.
Prince Charles visited Kenwood House to mark the re-opening of the Grade I-listed English Heritage site on Hampstead Heath which had been closed for 18 months as part of a £6million refurbishment.