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.
THE NHS has been forced to give thousands of pounds over the last five years to help fund tourism in Stratford-upon-Avon, it has emerged.
Doctors in Stratford are now refusing to cough up Stratforward Bid’s business rate levy for the second five-year term, which all town centre businesses are required to pay.
Rother House Medical Centre was billed £1,130 for the current year, but after speaking to patients, they’re making a stand.
Practice manager Tom Ganner said: “We feel very strongly that this is a morally wrong payment. It’s NHS money funding tourism and it adds nothing to our business whatsoever; it actually takes the NHS budget away from our registered patients.”
Stratforward take a levy from businesses in town and use the money to bring visitors to the town.
They’re behind the river festival, the arts festival and the motoring festival. The levy for the next five years is 1.45 per cent of the property’s rateable value. For the past five years it has been 1.6 per cent.
Rother House, which has around 13,000 patients, were billed for the first time this year after the boundaries were redrawn.
However, South Warwickshire Foundation NHS Trust, which runs the hospital on Arden Street, has always been included.
The trust has given Stratforward £10,402 since the levy was introduced in 2009, including £1,566 this year.
Trust chief executive Glen Burley said: “I am sure that this makes sense for the businesses who benefit from increasing visitors to Stratford.
“Whilst I am very proud of the services that we operate in Stratford, I don’t think that people will travel thousands of miles just to visit our minor injuries unit!”
He has objected to paying the levy in the past but was told all business rate payers must cough up.
“This kind of levy on a healthcare provider is rather counter-productive,” he said.
But after Rother House refused to hand the money over, Stratforward has been forced to look into whether they can really bill doctors.
Karen Wild, Stratforward’s new manager, said: “We are aware of the situation and are seeking clarification on the position of GP surgeries paying Bid levies.
“We are speaking to British Bids, the national organisation dedicated to the Bid industry, in order to fully understand national policy before reviewing this in the context of Stratforward. Just as soon as we understand this, we will be back in touch with Rother House.”
When Rother House doctors got the bill they asked their patient group whether they should pay it or not. The patient group said no.
“They don’t want to know about festivals, it doesn’t help doctors,” said group chairman Elizabeth Dixon.
“They’re not gaining anything from it, in fact they often treat tourists free of charge!”
Trinity Court Surgery, in Arden Street, which has nearly 17,000 patients, has also refused to pay, although they paid £2,144 last year.
Practice manager Linda Davis said: “We have paid it in previous years but this year we have decided that we are not paying it because we don’t believe that tourism helps practices, in actual fact, it is a hindrance.”
Bridge House Medical Centre has already paid its levy for 2014-15. It cost the practice, which has around 9,500 patients, £558.25.
Arden Medical Centre practice manager Alison Lee said she had not received a bill, but if they do, she will also refuse to pay it.
Karen Wild joined Stratforward as their new manager earlier this month, at the start of the Bid’s second five-year term. She’s previously established similar projects in Colchester and Bolton. She has taken over from former director, Chris Gregory.
This article first appeared in the Herald on Thursday 5th June. For all the latest news, buy the paper on Thursdays for just 60p.