Review of the year: October

PLANS to convert Hitchin Town Hall into a district museum suffered another blow when Letchworth GC councillors joined the growing voice of protest and put forward Letchworth Town Hall instead. North Herts District council s plan, put forward by the Tory-c

PLANS to convert Hitchin Town Hall into a district museum suffered another blow when Letchworth GC councillors joined the growing voice of protest and put forward Letchworth Town Hall instead. North Herts District council's plan, put forward by the Tory-controlled Cabinet, took another battering after Letchworth Committee followed Hitchin Committee's lead and overwhelming called for the scheme to be scrapped.

"Letchworth Town Hall doesn't need a �1m refurbishment, unlike Hitchin Town Hall, and certainly doesn't need �2.5m to make it into a museum," said Letchworth Committee chairman Cllr Michael Paterson.

A refuse collector who seriously injured his shoulder while collecting rubbish for recycling was awarded �57,000 in compensation. Alan Shambrook, from Stevenage where he works for Stevenage Borough Council, tripped over a raised paving slab in July, 2005. Herts County Council admitted liability and Mr Shambrook, 55, who now drives a road sweeper for the council, said: "I am pleased to have been awarded compensation, but the injury has been extremely painful and has changed my life dramatically."

A woman who allowed her pet dog to starve to death was banned from keeping animals for 10 years. Zara Dexter 26, of Willow Tree Lane, Hitchin, was given the order by Hemel Hempstead magistrates after Lucy, a Staffordshire bull terrier, died of starvation, and her pup Rena was so hungry she had begun to eat her in what the RSPCA was the squalid conditions in Dexter's home.


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After months of trying to save the trees in Leys Square the tree surgeons finally arrived and within minutes they were all cut down. But campaigner Sue Hogg who had helped gather a 20,000 signature petition, hit back saying angrily: "This is not over yet by a long way. A lot of questions are being asked about the Heritage Foundation's future in the town and we want to hold a public meeting to make sure this kind of thing never happens again."

Stevenage MP Barbara Follett announced she was stepping down as the town's MP at the next General Election after 12 years in the job. Mrs Follett, 67, said she made the decision after her husband, best selling author Ken Follett, and her children, made it clear they wanted her to stand down so she could see more of them.

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"It was in early September when I told the Prime Minister that I would not be standing," said Mrs Follett. "The decision came after much thought and great sadness. Over the summer my husband and children said they had had enough of my lifestyle and in the blunt way offspring can, they told me I wasn't getting any younger and that they only ever saw me at the beginning and end of each year."

The Folletts, who lives in Old Knebworth Lane, say they plan to stay in the area.

Animal rights activists held a protest outside a big top to try and convince people not to go to a circus that uses trained animals.

The protest by North Hertfordshire Vegetarians and Vegans called for the boycott of the Bobby Roberts Circus that was visiting Hitchin. Moira Roberts, wife of owner Bobby, said: "The animals are part of our family. These people think that because we are a commercial business we are exploiting them. We are not doing anything illegal.

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