THE NEW Director of Stratforward is looking forward to the challenge of taking Stratford forward.
Joeseph Baconnet – a specialist in economic development, town centre management, tourism and planning – took up his new post with Stratford’s Business Improvement District (BID) on Monday.
The 46 year-old immediately pledged to work closely with businesses and organisations to benefit the town.
He said he now plans to “get to grips with the town”, meeting as many partners and organisations as possible and understanding the issues facing Stratford – starting with an invitation to all Stratforward members to attend a “meet and greet” event at the Falcon Hotel in Stratford at 12.30pm on Tuesday (July 19).
Mr Baconnet, who was previously Economic Development and Regeneration Manager at Warwick District Council, described the town as “unique” and said many other destinations would “kill for what Stratford has got”.
“It’s got a city attitude but it’s a small Warwickshire market town. It punches well above its weight in retail terms from its resident population, it has a lot of visitors. So it’s fair to say it’s unique.”
He admitted there was a “high level of expectation” surrounding his role, but was confident he could deliver results with his background in town centres, town development, business support as well as tourism.
Mr Baconnet told The Observer: “I think it’s trying to bring all those elements together and work for the benefit of the levy payers and ultimately for the benefit of Stratford.”
“For me it’s working with all the partners, all the organisations, to build on what’s already here.
“You can pretty much go anywhere in the world and say you work in Stratford-on-Avon and they know what you’re talking about.
“You’ve got a brilliant product – the town – in an accessible area. And it’s about all of the partners working together to get the incremental benefits.
“I’m just keen to work with as many people as possible and to increase the offer to increase what people see about the town.”
A key group Mr Baconnet plans to work with are BID members, who he said were “critical” to Stratforward.
“The relationship is critical – Stratforward doesn’t exist without the support of its levy payers. They voted for it to happen so their support is vital.”
He admitted there were issues affecting the town that people would like to see addressed by Stratforward and other organisations but said Stratford was more than ready to address them.
“What Stratford is managing is success and that’s the other side of the coin – that actually despite all the individual difficulties that people have there are plenty of other towns, and possibly cities, that would kill for what Stratford has got.”
And while the country may be facing uncertain times economically and politically, Mr Baconnet insisted they were exciting times for Stratford and his role presented an exciting challenge.
Rugby-born Mr Baconnet, who now lives in Kenilworth, was appointed after a three-month nationwide search after former BID boss Karen Wild left at Easter to take up a new post in Basingstoke.
He specialised in economic development, town planning and tourism at university in Staffordshire and Oxford, then worked in research and economic development in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire for six years before taking up the post of Town Centre Manager for Warwick and Kenilworth in 1998. When the role was split in 2004 he took on the Kenilworth remit.
In 2010 he was made Economic Development and Regeneration Manager at Warwick District Council and in recent times played a key role in the development of Shakespeare’s England.
People wishing to attend the “Meet and Greet” event on Tuesday should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01789 292718.