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.
A SENIOR figure in the training industry has challenged the boss of a discredited South Warwickshire welfare-to-work company to reveal how many people had been let down by the firm.
Lindsay McCurdy, chief executive of Apprenticeships for England, issued the challenge to Krissy Charles-Jones, founder of award-winning Alcester-based Bright International Ltd, which received £1.3 million in taxpayer-funded contracts before it collapsed a few months ago.
“What is she going to do about all the learners who had their qualifications revoked?” asked Mrs McCurdy. “At the moment nobody knows the numbers.”
Mrs McCurdy added: “She’s not talking to the training providers who funded her.
“The time has now come—when she’s not working with any training providers or awarding organisations—for her to make public the numbers that are involved. Nobody knows the extent of the situation.”
There is also concern about the impact of the Bright International debacle on the training industry generally.
“We don’t want to be seen as a sector that rips off people who are being trained,” said Mrs McCurdy.
She added: “We really are in a ‘Catch 22’ situation. We can only go forward if Bright International come forward with the information.”
Mrs McCurdy said it was not just the learners who had been affected by the demise of Bright International.
“There are ex-employees who are owed thousands of pounds,” she said.
“They were put on ‘gardening leave’ with no pay. They’re trying to get some sort of settlement.”
Mrs McCurdy—whose Portsmouth-based company makes sure that the training being provided is “up to scratch”—told the Herald: “A lot of people have been let down.”
She said: “Bright would take on all these people—up to 5,000 learners—but didn’t tell the awarding organisations which learners were registered with them.”
Mrs McCurdy added: “Nobody has really looked at the training organisations that funded Bright. They are the ones who should be taking responsibility for the people left in the lurch.”
Earlier this year Bright International was disqualified for “malpractice” by the NCFE (formerly the Northern Council for Further Education).
The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) told the Herald: “We take any allegations of financial irregularity against an organisation involved in the delivery of skills extremely seriously.
“We continue to work with lead providers to ensure that funding claims in respect of all payments claimed or received for delivery by Bright are fully recovered.”