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.
HARD on the heels of the crisis at Warwickshire College it has emerged that the government has taken the dramatic step of intervening in the running of Stratford College.
The intervention is linked to concerns about the college’s finances and its governance.
In a further surprise development it emerged that at least six members of the college’s governing body, including its chairman, Cllr Tony Jefferson, had resigned.
The latest bombshell to hit further education in South Warwickshire was revealed to the Herald by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which is responsible for the sector in Whitehall.
A spokeswoman said that the recently appointed FE (Further Education) Commissioner, Dr David Collins, assessed Stratford College in May this year.
“This resulted from an assessment by the Skills Funding Agency that the financial health of the college was inadequate,” said the spokeswoman.
“The FE Commissioner identified weaknesses in the governance of the college.”
As a result, Further Education Minister Matthew Hancock, had intervened.
“On this basis, the minister has requested that the college put in place an action plan to address these weaknesses and this is currently being reviewed,” said the spokeswoman.
She said that a summary of the FE Commissioner’s assessment would be published in due course.
Stratford College has around 1,800 full-time and 4,000 part-time students, and more than 400 full-time and part-time staff.
It costs around £13 million a year to run.
However Stratford College—like other further education colleges, including Warwickshire—has been severely hit by a cutback in public funding.
Both colleges have announced job losses—or the prospect of job losses—and in Warwickshire’s case the principal and chief executive, Mariane Cavalli, recently took “temporary leave of absence”.
Warwickshire College told the Herald it could not say, for legal reasons, why Ms Cavalli had taken this leave of absence.
Last autumn, the man who had been the principal of Stratford College for eight years, Martin Penny, resigned suddenly and Nicola Mannock, the vice-principal, became the acting principal.
According to minutes of governors’ meetings earlier this year she has been confirmed as principal.
In a joint statement with acting chairman Ian Robinson yesterday, Mrs Mannock told the Herald that while the FE Commissioner’s report had advised that good progress was being made in delivering the necessary quality and financial improvements, it identified a need to make significant changes to the governance arrangements.
“In response to these serious findings we had no option but to take swift action by changing the college’s governance structure, comprising 12 governors, including myself as principal and two staff and one student governor,” said the statement.
“Strong governance is vital to a college’s success and the changes to the board of governors are being focused on recruiting additional expertise in line with the commissioner’s findings.
“Stratford College has been specifically advised to bring new members to the board from the active business community, and consequently we are welcoming the interest being expressed from this sector.
“Details regarding the new appointments will be announced in September.
“Since being appointed as principal in November 2013, my attention has been focused on developing a completely new management team which has undertaken a major restructuring programme.
This has significantly helped to strengthen our financial position and the latest forecasts show an income surplus over expenditure for the first time in five years.
“Difficult decisions have therefore been taken to invest in the long-term sustainability of the college and to enhance the future development and success of our students.”
This article first appeared in the Herald published on Thursday 10th July. For the latest breaking news in South Warwickshire pick up the paper each week for 60p.