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.
STRATFORD-upon-Avon’s Town Square is being handed over to new developers, believed to be backed by the British billionaire family who own the River Island chain of stores.
The current owners of the lease, London and Regional Properties, were given permission to build a five-screen cinema on the site in February 2012.
Then for two years nothing happened. They are now in the process of transferring the 175-year lease to a new company called Blue Coast Stratford LLP.
Registered in April this year, it is believed Blue Coast is part of the Lewis Trust Group, owned by one of Britain’s wealthiest families.
According to the 2014 Sunday Times Rich List, 88-year-old Bernard Lewis and his family are worth £1.25 billion.
They own 300 River Island stores worldwide and also operate hotels and real estate.
News of the handover has been received positively, prompting renewed hopes Town Square might finally be redeveloped.
Former Stratford mayor and long-time campaigner for improvement at Town Square, Cyril Bennis, said: “I hope the transfer of the lease to Blue Coast will have a positive impact, creating a dynamic area beneficial to residents and shoppers, unlike what it has become under London Regional’s management, a wasteland of ‘business investment’.”
Roughly two thirds of Town Square is owned by Stratford District Council and one third by Stratford Town Trust.
The council and the trust issued a joint statement confirming they had received an application to transfer the lease from London and Regional to Blue Coast.
“Should the transaction be completed SDC and the Town Trust are confident major improvements in the site will be the outcome,” it read.
Planning permission to build a cinema on the site lasts until 2017, and although Blue Coast did not wish to comment, it is believed their plans still include a cinema.
Not everybody welcomed the news. Charities such as Escape Community Arts and Coventry Cyrenians have been utilising the empty units free of charge.
Karen Williams, project manager for Escape, said: “Our lease is due to run out at the end of July which we’re terrified about.”
Men’s Shed, a group of men over 50s who get together to build things for the community, are also under threat. Richard Ware, their 65-year-old chairman, is not looking forward to relocating a whole carpentry shop.
“We’ll have to get out of here we understand that, but what is rather worrying is we’ve got a load of equipment,” he said.
Both charities are looking for alternative premises. Call Karen on 07725563413 and e-mail Men’s Shed on menshedsstratforduponavon@ gmail.com
London and Regional and Blue Coast did not wish to comment.
This story first appeared in the Herald on Thursday 10th July. For all the latest Stratford news pick up the paper each week for just 60p.