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.
BOOMTOWN tourism could be on the cards for Stratford-upon-Avon this year after record visitor numbers to the five Shakespeare properties in Stratford saw 818,000 people walk through the doors of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) properties in 2013 – 7.5 per cent up on 2012.
The surge in visitor numbers could also have a very welcome knock-on effect with local retailers as cafés, pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops all stand to benefit from packed pavements in the town centre over the next 12 months.
At Shakespeare’s birthplace, visits were up by 11.5 per cent, followed by Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, with an eight per cent increase.
Following the closure of the archaeological dig on the site of Shakespeare’s final home at New Place, visitor numbers declined slightly by three per cent.
The most significant growth—25 per cent—was through bookings made by tour operators and local partners including the visitor information centre.
Advance bookings also increased, with online advance ticket sales up by 188 per cent, while advance group bookings rose by 25 per cent.
A recent report by the Heritage Lottery Fund said that Shakespeare and Britain’s rich heritage helped boost the UK economy to the tune of £26 billion each year.
It appears as though the lure of the Bard continues to attract visitors from all over the globe with benefits to local businesses becoming increasingly self-evident.
Commenting on the figures, Dr Diana Owen, SBT director, said, “This is a fantastic achievement which reflects our ongoing investment in making the Shakespeare homes—and his home town—a must-see destination.
“Income from tourism is absolutely vital to support our work to conserve the houses and our world class Shakespeare collection, keep them open to the public, and make them meaningful and relevant for people now and in the future. We now have our sights set on reaching the one million visitors a year milestone in 2018.”
Dr Owen continued, “Shakespeare is at the heart of our national identity and part of the world’s cultural ‘glue’.
“That makes Stratford a unique heritage and cultural destination, renowned worldwide, but we can’t rest on our laurels.
“The next few years offer a unique opportunity with the major anniversaries of Shakespeare’s birth in 2014 and death in 2016 to do even more to encourage more people to visit Stratford, linger longer and return more often.
“Over the next three years we will be working to highlight Stratford’s place—and our own role—at the centre of the Shakespeare world.”
In terms of retail, the signs were clear for all to see as early as May last year when Stratford was mobbed with happy motoring enthusiasts who poured into town for the first ever motoring festival and spent their money in shops.
Subsequent festivals and attractions also bolstered the local economy and the trend continued with a decent summer which kept people on the high street with increasing numbers of tourists from the Far East visiting town.
But if visitor numbers to Shakespeare properties are on the increase as reported, will local retailers be able to get in on the act in 2014?
According to Stratforward Bid, the town’s business improvement district organisation, the recently released visitor figures show every signs of benefitting local businesses in town, as Stratforward chair Maria Warters explains: “This increase in visitors to Stratford is also fantastic news for our BID member businesses as there is no doubt it stimulates trade for them and will continue to do so into the future.
“We congratulate the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on its record-breaking visitor numbers last year and, given the constant increase over the past few years, we have no doubt they will achieve the one million mark by 2018.”