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Council seeks funding to help rough sleepers

6.02pm - 24th May 2018

HARLOW Council has submitted a proposal to the Government to help get people sleeping rough in the town into housing. 

The council has asked for £250,000 from a targeted £30m fund which aims to reduce the number of people rough sleeping before and throughout the next winter period. 

Council officers have been working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the co-production of a proposal. 

The council says there were 24 rough sleepers in Harlow when the last estimated rough sleeper count took place last November, compared to seven in 2010. 

This year during the severe weather Harlow’s emergency provision was activated three times and supported up to 36 people sleeping rough. 

The council would use the money on a range of measures including employing a full-time co-ordinator to oversee services and support for rough sleepers, funding two extra outreach/tenancy support workers to work for Streets2Homes, providing support to help get people off the street and into settled accommodation suited to their needs, extending severe weather provision across the winter (November to February) so a range of accommodation can be provided to suit individual circumstances, and turning a disused council property into short-term supported accommodation where up to six rough sleepers can stay and receive targeted support from Streets2homes. 

Housing portfolio holder councillor Mark Wilkinson said: "We see rough sleeping everywhere, not just in Harlow, and the increase in figures locally speaks for itself.

"People want to see more done to help get rough sleepers into housing and into a more settled situation. 

"Behind every rough sleeper’s story there are usually many different circumstances and complex situations. 

"We know that rough sleepers need more than just a place to live - that is the first solution for many - but it’s the specialist support and help over the long term which is equally important. 

"Sadly, some people choose to sleep rough and reject support; overcoming these barriers is all part of the project. 

"Our bid includes a range of measures working with Streets2homes to provide the support to meet the different needs of different people. 

"I’m hopeful the Government will confirm its support for our proposal so that together we can do more to help those sleeping rough."

Fairground workers convicted over bouncy castle death

4.32pm - 9th May 2018

TWO fairground workers have been convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence after a girl died when the bouncy castle she was playing on in Harlow Town Park became untethered during poor weather conditions. 

Married couple Shelby and William Thurston had not adequately anchored the inflatable dome to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it was safe for it to be in use, a court heard.

Summer Grant was trapped inside when a gust of wind blew it into the air. It travelled 300 metres down a hill and struck a tree before coming to rest. 

The seven-year-old, from Norwich, was taken to hospital but died a short time later. 

Shelby Thurston, 25, and William Thurston Jnr, 28, both of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, were arrested following the incident on March 26, 2016. 

Following a thorough investigation, they were charged in June last year with manslaughter by gross negligence. 

They were also charged with two counts of failing to discharge a general health and safety duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. 

The couple stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court on April 16 and today (Wednesday) a jury found them both guilty of all the charges. 

Witnesses told the court it had been raining and windy on the day of the incident. 

A yellow weather wind warning was in place and the weather forecast for the coming weekend was stormy, with Storm Katie expected to arrive on March 28. 

The Thurstons were running a number of rides at the funfair, including three inflatables - a large slide, a smaller slide and the Circus Super Dome that was involved in the incident. 

They opened their rides at about 2.15pm but at 3.30pm William Thurston decided to deflate the large slide due to forecast weather conditions. 

While the larger slide was being deflated, Summer was on the dome when it lifted into the air and blew away. 

The Thurstons told the court they had regularly checked Met Office weather updates on the day and had seen the wind was due to pick up in a few hours, so agreed to deflate the big slide first due to the rain.

They claimed it was not windy and a sudden gust blew the dome away.

A meteorologist confirmed weather warnings were in place that day for the area covering the park and wind speeds and gusts had increased throughout the day, reaching as high as 35mph to 45mph during the late afternoon. 

As part of the police investigation, the dome was re-inflated and examined by experts from The Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

They said although it was generally of sound construction and thought to be in a satisfactory used condition before the incident, the design did not conform to guidance given in the British Standard for safety for such equipment. 

It had insufficient anchorage points but would have been able to withstand wind speeds of 24mph. 

The inspectors also identified damage to a power cable, which should have been identified during daily checks of the dome. 

However during police interviews, the Thurstons said they were familiar with the instructions for using the dome and it was checked before and during use. 

Speaking after the hearing, senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Summer Grant was a seven-year-old girl who lost her life in the most tragic of circumstances. 

“The inflatable should never have been in use in those weather conditions and the operators should never have allowed Summer to play on it. 

“The Thurstons held a huge responsibility to ensure the safety of the children that used their rides. They treated this responsibility with total disregard, putting profit before safety.

“I welcome the convictions in this case, however this is a tragedy for everyone involved. 

“Summer Grant was a beautiful little girl with a beaming smile and a caring nature. She will never be forgotten. 

“Summer’s parents Cara and Lee, her sister Lily and her wider family have suffered an unspeakable loss. 

“They have displayed utter dignity throughout the last two years and during the court process. They have my complete respect for the strength and courage they have shown.” 

HSE inspector Nicola Jaynes said: “Anyone operating an item of fairground equipment should be aware of their legal duty to protect the health and safety of those not in their employment. 

“They should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards. 

“An inflatable should be checked before use and these checks should include ensuring it is adequately secured to the ground. “When in use operators should monitor the weather closely and an inflatable should not be used in wind speeds above 24mph or as directed by the manufacture.” 

Sentencing has been adjourned until a date yet to be set.

Exhibitions for new M11 junction 7A scheme

9.15am - 9th May 2018

TWO public drop-in events relating to the M11 Junction 7A scheme are taking place in Old Harlow. 

The events are an opportunity for people to meet project staff and discuss the latest developments which include noise barriers along Gilden Way / Sheering Road. 

These are planned to install noise barriers at some locations along Gilden Way and Sheering Road to reduce the impact of traffic noise on residents. 

The barriers are typically wooden fences, although other materials can be used such as brick and clear plastic. 

The scheme will also see the removal of The Oxleys underpass. Harlow Council has told the county council there are significant benefits to removing the underpass under Gilden Way between The Oxleys and Gilden Close. 

The underpass does not conform to the latest accessibility standards, is prone to flooding, and has become associated with anti-social behaviour. 

The existing crossing near the junction with Mulberry Green would be upgraded, ensuring it provides a safe crossing across Gilden Way. 

The events are at Mulberry Green Church Hall, Catholic Church of the Assumption, Mulberry Green, Old Harlow, between 2pm and 8pm on Friday (May 11) and between 10am and 4pm on Saturday (May 12).

Chance to enter Royal Parks Half Marathon

8.28pm - 1st May 2018

ST Clare Hospice is offering ten supporters the opportunity to take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday, October 14, as part of Team St Clare.

Setting off from Hyde Park, the 13.1-mile route passes through four of London’s eight Royal Parks and passes some of London’s most iconic landmarks on closed roads, including Buckingham Palace.

Applications to apply to run for Team St Clare can be made until the noon deadline on Monday, April 30. Places are not given on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

All applications are assessed on an individual basis. 

Application forms can be downloaded from the St Clare Hospice website at www.stclarehospice.org.uk/event/royal-parks-half, or from Emma Broadbent on 01279 773754 or by emailing emma.broadbent@stclarehospice.org.uk.

Registration open for Go Bright Walk

7.43am - 1st May 2018

REGISTRATION is now open for St Clare Hospice's first Go Bright Walk. 

The 5km walk will be held on Saturday, July 14, when participants will set off from the Water Gardens in Harlow. 

Walkers are encouraged to don rainbow colours for the event. 

Organiser Emma Broadbent, St Clare’s challenges and events fundraiser, said: "Our first-ever Go Bright Walk promises to be the brightest 5k in town! 

"It is the perfect event to kick-start your summer with the whole family. Setting off at 11am, and with a free family festival of stalls, games and treats taking place all day, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

"The lovely, bright St Clare logo is all the colours of the rainbow, and we want to celebrate the brightness and happiness that St Clare brings to the lives of our community. That’s why we are asking all our Go Bright Walkers to dress in their favourite, brightest and most exciting clothing to represent the brightness of St Clare!" 

Dave Hartery, operations manager at The Water Gardens, said: "We are delighted to be hosting the first-ever St Clare Go Bright Walk and to be helping our local hospice’s biggest summer fundraiser.

"Every year St Clare’s events bring such a great atmosphere to Harlow town centre - with hundreds of people gathering for a fantastic cause. 

"We are excited that this year’s event includes a family festival of stalls and games, so that there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

The Water Gardens is proud to support St Clare in hosting this bright event to kick-start summer!" The Go Bright Walk will set off at 11am with the day-long festival running from 10am until 3pm. 

The 5k route around Harlow town is wheelchair and pushchair friendly. 

All children aged under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. 

Advanced entry costs £12 for adults (over 16s) and £5 for children (4-15 years) with children under three free. A family ticket (two adults and two children) costs £30 in advance. 

On the day entry is £15 for adults, £7 for children and £40 for a family. Entry includes a pair of rainbow sweatbands and a Go Bright medal.

Participants can register online at www.stclarehospice.org.uk/event/go-bright-walk or ring 01279 773754.

Registration forms are also available from the hospice reception at Hastingwood and all St Clare shops.

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