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.
AN OFFICIAL paving stone commemorating Stratford-upon-Avon’s forgotten war hero for the 100th anniversary of the First World War will be placed in the town, the government has confirmed. Rex Warneford – the first man to single-handedly shoot down a zeppelin - was ignored in the government’s initial plans to recognise Victoria Cross winners because he was born abroad in India. The Herald launched a campaign, together with King Edward VI school, where Rex lived and studied for five years, to get the fighter pilot recognised.
WARWICKSHIRE Police today issued a statement explaining the force’s involvement in the so-called Cost Coffee crash case that resulted in former magistrate Alan Marks being found guilty of dangerous driving by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.
Mr Marks, aged 65 – who suffers from multiple sclerosis – was given a two-year conditional discharge, banned from driving for two years and ordered to pay £1,200 in costs.
On 23rd April 2012 a Volkswagen Touran driven by Mr Marks, of Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon, mounted the pavement by the Costa Coffee outlet in the town centre and crashed into the White Stuff shop next door.
Several people were badly injured, including Mr Marks himself.
Pleading not guilty to dangerous driving, Mr Marks claimed his car had suddenly accelerated of its own accord and would not respond to his attempt to apply the foot brake.
The prosecution maintained he had pressed the accelerator by mistake and not the foot brake.
During yesterday’s consideration of its verdict the jury returned to court to ask why Warwickshire Police had initially taken a decision not to prosecute Mr Marks.
But the judge, Recorder Patrick Upward, QC, told the jury members they had to concentrate on the events of 23rd April 2012 rather than “decisions taken thereafter”.
Thirty minutes later the jury returned with its guilty verdict.
Today the deputy chief constable of Warwickshire Police, Neil Brunton, said: “After more than two years of uncertainty for all involved, I am pleased this investigation is now concluded.
“The original decision not to prosecute, taken in November 2012, followed careful consideration of all the available evidence and liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service, who referred the matter back to Warwickshire Police to make the decision.
“However, it subsequently became apparent that some aspects of the defence that had been put forward warranted specific legal guidance and a review of the case was requested which resulted in the decision by CPS to bring a charge of dangerous driving.”
Sentencing Mr Marks Recorder Upward told him that if he decided to drive again he would have to take a driving test.
Mr Marks, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is permanently in a wheelchair, has not driven since the accident in Stratford on 23rd April 2012 and the court had earlier been told he had no intention of driving again.
The judge said that the accident had been caused by “a tragic error” on Mr Marks’s part.
“There is no suggestion drink was involved – just an unhappy error causing injuries to yourself and to others,” said Recorder Upward.
He told Mr Marks that he bore in mind his excellent record to the community and that he had originally been told by the authorities that he would not be prosecuted.
Mr Marks had claimed during the four-day trial that his car, an automatic VW Touran which he bought new in late 2009 and in which he had driven 25,000 miles, suddenly accelerated of its own accord in Stratford High Street on a Monday afternoon over two years ago and that his attempts to stop it by pressing the footbrake had no effect.
But the prosecution argued that Mr Marks had mistakenly pressed the accelerator and not the foot brake and that it was this action that caused the crash.
The jury took two hours to reach its verdict.
Afterwards Mr Marks’s solicitor told the Herald that his client did not wish to make any comment to the press.
In a statement after the verdict John Bristow, acting sector Crown Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “The driving of Alan Marks that day was clearly below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
“Due to the defendant’s disability, his vehicle had been specially adapted in order for him to use it. However, by his own admission he was not using the adaptation.”
Mr Bristow added: “We hope that this prosecution reminds anyone who has had their cars specially adapted in order for them to use it due to disability to always use the adaptations, as otherwise you are not only putting yourself in danger but other road users too.”