THE Stratford Mop of 1914 appeared little changed from previous years. Wartime austerity had not yet set in and few people foresaw that the conflict would be lengthy. One of the great traditions of the fair was its roasts. No less than five oxen and seven pigs were rotating on the spits outside the pubs on the big day. The excursion trains brought their usual hundreds of revellers from Birmingham and other centres of population. None of Stratford’s conscripts had yet embarked overseas, although just five days before, a regular with the South Wales Borderers, Sgt RH Savage, had been the first Stratfordian to fall victim to the war. He had been struck by shrapnel at the Battle of the Aisne and died of his wounds in Bournbrook Military Hospital.
Four years ago Ellis Holtom, of Stratford-upon-Avon, was born with half a working heart. Later, the Herald featured his condition as a tribute to the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he was treated. Now, to mark Congenital Heart Defect Week his mum, Vicki, updates his story. . .
ALL 326 local planning authorities in England, councils like Stratford-on-Avon District, need a local plan. The core strategy is a component of that local plan. It contains all the local district wide policies that need to be considered when processing planning applications. New development needs to satisfy local needs, helping to realise the hopes and ambitions of its communities and protect them from situations they fear. New homes and places to work should provide then with a healthy lifestyle, a pleasant place to live, good recreational facilities and above all the infrastructure that enhances their quality of life. The buzzword to describe this is ‘sustainable’.
THE poor are paying more than they should be for their energy, according to damning new evidence from Stratford-upon-Avon’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Prepayment meters (PPMs) are costing users in fuel poverty a “disproportionate amount” for what little gas and electricity they can afford, the bureau has found. There are around 7.2 million people on prepayment meters in the UK and several thousand in the district of Stratford. Despite Stratford’s reputation as an affluent area, the bureau is being forced to come to the aid of more and more people living in fuel poverty on an increasingly regular basis.
WEST Midlands Ambulance Service has been fined £2.6 million for failing to reach life-threatening calls quickly enough.
Under government targets, paramedics are required to reach 75 per cent of emergencies within eight minutes.
In 2013/14 WMAS reached just 73.6 per cent of Red 2 emergencies, which are serious call-outs to incidents like strokes, fits, and severe breathing difficulties.
“To put this in perspective, we missed the target by, on average, only 12 seconds,” an ambulance spokesman said.
The majority of the fine – £1.8 million – is being reinvested back into the service to improve ambulance response times.
The remaining £800,000 was taken from reserves, and the ambulance service said “there was no impact on patients”.
WMAS said there had been unprecedented demand on the service last year.
Speaking in April at the end of the financial year, Chief Executive Anthony Marsh, said: “We take far more calls than you might think; almost 3,000 ‘999’ calls come in every single day. It’s a figure that has been increasing by on average 5 per cent every single year.
“What’s more, despite being an ‘emergency service’, the majority of them are not life-threatening. Because our call numbers have effectively doubled in recent years, particularly the non-life threatening ones, we have had to become far more than a traditional ‘scoop and run’ service taking all of our patients to hospital.
“As an organisation we have undergone a massive change so that we can provide ever higher standards of clinical care with more complex treatments whilst continuing to keep up with the ever increasing demand.”
Union bosses have hit out at the fine. Ray Salmon, Regional Organiser for Britain’s public service union, UNISON, said: “The decision to fine West Midlands Ambulance Service £2.6m is not only a kick in the teeth for its hardworking staff it is counterproductive.
“The ambulance service has been put under enormous pressure by higher volume usage because of continuing cuts to other health services. It is this which has resulted in the service just fractionally missing its target.
“Any withholding of any funds, let alone a £800,000 cut, is destined to put even more pressure on the service.”
The fine was imposed by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) who control NHS budgets.
A spokesperson for Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG said: “The vast majority of this withheld money is to be reinvested in the health system to ease the pressure and help improve performance.
“The latest performance figures are extremely positive, with all ambulance operational quality standards being met in April.”