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Stratford Could Lose Its Identity

Warwickshire's most famous town could soon lose its identity unless more is done to preserve the reputation it has gained, according to a top council official.

Stratford-upon-Avon has long been a draw for people from all over the country who are greeted with signs welcoming them to "Shakespeare's County" when they reach Warwickshire.

But Stratford's district council director of planning has warned that the town is heading for "mediocrity" due to complacency and lack of reinvestment.

Addressing a meeting of the Stratford Society Sean O' Grady said that the local council and residents alike must take action to preserve the status of the historical town.

He said:

"Unless something dramatic happens by way of reinvestment in the RSC's premises, I do not believe I would be exaggerating to suggest that in 20 years time, the RSC will no longer be a major presence in the town, and may not exist at all."

Mr O'Grady outlined the need to not only preserve the status of the theatres which he described as "outworn and unsatisfactory", but also their surroundings.

Although Stratford has made some minor changes over recent years the council official believes that they have been very uncoordinated.

He said:

"We have had a series of small, but significant changes which do not to me add up to coherence. Lack of town centre management has resulted in ad hoc changes which have let the town decline towards mediocrity"

Mr O'Grady also highlighted the Stratford's traffic problems and described walking around town as a "nightmare", urging motorists to leave their cars at home and use park and ride facilities.

Possible remedies to Stratford's problems were also outlined in the speech and included new pedestrian routes, road widening and one-way systems, and routes restricted to public transport only.

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CWN / Politics / Stratford on Avon District Council  / News / 19 Jan 99

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