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.
A TAXI driver known as ‘Metal Martyn’ is this year celebrating 25 years of rocking around Stratford-upon-Avon.
Martyn Pick’s ‘Rock Cab’ is a late-night legend in these parts. Chances are, if you’ve taken a late taxi from town, you’ve climbed into the plush leather seats of his silver BMW and found yourself headbanging your way home.
Treated to an onslaught of heavy metal and hard rock, residents in the know race to get into the Alcester man’s taxi first, such is his cult status.
It’s a great way to end a night out, and when we tracked Martyn down, he was just as affectionate about the people of Stratford as they are about him.
“People come up again and again, doesn’t matter where I am on the rank,” he said. “You see them running towards you in case somebody else gets in. It is quite gratifying really.”
Martyn stands out on the taxi rank. His long curly hair and choice of music mean people call him ‘Brian May’, or ‘that bloke from The Darkness’.
He doesn’t mind, and he’s always pleasantly surprised his passengers like the heavy metal.
“People get in and say ‘turn it up!’” he said. “They come out of a nightclub, where they’ve probably been listening to dance music all night and you think they won’t like it, but then they get in and they love it.”
The Rock Cab has had it’s fair share of headbangers in the back. “The kids in the back are all doing Wayne’s World,” said Martyn.
“They’re probably taking the mickey out of me but I like to think they’re enjoying themselves.”
He plays metal stalwarts like Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Metallica and more, but regulars know Martyn’s real love is German industrial band, Rammstein, and it's a popular request.
The best gig he ever went to was Rammstein in Nottingham, and their love for the band helped get him and his fiancé together.
Metal Martyn and his BMW Rock Cab, which has to be silver to comply with council rules.
Humbled by his popularity, Martyn still loves the job he started back in May 1989.
“I’ve found my niche in life,” said the former steel worker. “I didn’t get on with the 9 to 5 jobs, I could never get up in time.”
But things are getting tougher. He’s lost a lot of business since Chicago’s nightclub closed down, and this year, Stratford District Council want all taxi drivers to take a new driving test.
“The demise of Chicago Rock means I’m now making 25 per cent of what I would normally make on a Wednesday,” he said.
“It’s a bit worrying because that was the biggest place in Stratford and now it’s gone. When I first started we had seven nightclubs in Stratford, now we have two, three?”
To put that in perspective, Martyn made £3.44 an hour on the Monday before we spoke to him.
And although he boasts about having the “safest car on the rank” – it has ten airbags and an SOS button – the big automatic BMW 535d costs a lot to run.
“Since I bought this car in 2005, I’ve had one or two good years,” he admitted.
But it’s the people of Stratford that keeps him working six nights a week.
“They have all got their own little quirks,” he said. “I think that is what I like about the job, you can be quite depressed and come to work and it just takes your mind off things.”
And although he loves driving to metal, he lets passengers put their own music on.
“If people are having a good time I’m happy,” he beamed.
Celebrating his 25th year in the Rock Cab, Martyn said: “I am now driving the second generation of people around Stratford. I see people and think, ‘I know your mum, or your dad’!”
Metal Martyn runs Premier Taxis. To book him call 07808 868417.