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.
THE chairman of the organisation that represents Stratford-upon-Avon’s taxi drivers yesterday (Wednesday) voiced “absolute disgust” at a decision by the district council’s ruling cabinet that they must all now take a special driving test.
Roy Davies, chairman of the Stratford Taxi Association, said he had no objection to new taxi drivers taking the test.
“What we ask is that drivers who’ve been driving with a licence for ten to 20 years, who have experience of driving in all conditions—with no accidents or incidents of any sort—should not have to take the test,” he said. “Why should we have to prove we can drive a car?”
The test is known as a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) driving assessment. It has applied to new taxi drivers since 2004. On 1st January 2009 Stratford District Council decided that all taxi drivers should have taken the test by 1st January 2013.
At Monday’s meeting of the council’s cabinet representatives from the taxi association argued in favour of what are known as “grandfather rights” (the entitlement of experienced drivers to be exempt from the test) and said that these rights were common in other authorities. In any event a Law Commission review was under way that would probably introduce national standards in this area.
However, Cllr Mike Gittus (Cons, Kinwarton), the council’s portfolio holder for environment and planning, told the cabinet that no date had been set for the conclusion of the Law Commission review, that the DSA test was already in use in 166 other councils and that the importance of Stratford as a tourist destination justified high quality regulation and safety conditions in relation to taxi drivers.
But Mr Davies told the Herald yesterday that taxi drivers already did many things to prove their worth, including going on a disability awareness course. “Just how many more qualifications does a taxi driver have to have to prove that he or she can do the job?” he asked.
He added: “It’s just crazy, the amount of qualifications the council are imposing on us. They listen, but they don’t hear.”
Mr Davies said he felt like asking the council: “What is it about the taxi trade you don’t like? Why are you imposing all these conditions at every opportunity?”
He said: “With these extra conditions and costs we’re in No Man’s Land, with nowhere to go. We have no control over fuel prices, no control over running costs and no control over the council’s continual drain on our money. (They control the price of the meter—we don’t.)
“The standard of driving by Stratford taxi drivers is extremely high. We’re a professional body and professional in our jobs.”
In response, Cllr Gittus told the Herald that the taxi drivers had known they would all have to take the DSA test since 2009. “Sixty per cent of all taxi drivers in Stratford have passed this test,” he said. (However, Mr Davies said Cllr Gittus had not specified how many were new drivers since 2004.)
Cllr Gittus added: “As a direct result of good regulation by Stratford District Council we have a professional body of drivers who drive quality vehicles and provide a first class service to tourists and to the residents of Stratford. I would like the taxi drivers to acknowledge that—and the way we’ve supported them through the years.”
He said he had “no idea” why the taxi drivers were so angry.