FEARS are mounting over the potential impact of a ‘hard Brexit’ on Stratford.
The prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit is increasing less than six months from the Article 50 deadline, which would leave Britain with no meaningful trade treaty with its European neighbours.
Shakespeare’s England represents many businesses in the district and works to promote tourism.
Chief executive Helen Peters said: “Brexit is very high up on our agenda. We are looking at all the possible scenarios because there are major concerns.
“We get a large number of visitors from Germany and France, but coming to the UK could soon become a time consuming process and it might influence the decision for French tourists, for example, to pop next door to Spain instead.
“There’s uncertainty for everybody. Student groups from Europe could be a big loss because those sorts of trips need to be planned well in advance. Now I imagine this would be a massive challenge with uncertainty over things like visas.”
Ms Peters added filling positions in the tourist and hospitality sector was also a concern.
She said: “Of course Stratford relies on a large number of non British-born workers and there aren’t automatically a load of Brits waiting in the wings to take the jobs.
“We’re very reliant on our friends in Europe especially where it comes to language skills. Many people from the UK are not linguists and can’t provide visitors with the welcome they would expect in their own language.”
A Shakespeare Birthplace Trust spokeswoman added the organisation – a member of Shakespeare’s England – employed a number of foreign staff, particularly in customer service and hospitality roles.
She added: “With the average turnover for the sector standing at 24 per cent, filling vacancies is an ongoing challenge even with the current freedom of movement throughout Europe.
“We are working with partners across the sector to promote tourism and hospitality as a positive career choice and to attract people with the skill sets which are crucial to an industry which is worth £127billion annually to the UK economy.”
And this week saw a cross-party motion put to Stratford District Council calling on members to support a ‘people’s vote’.
Labour councillor Jason Fojtik, Conservative councillor Chris Mills and Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Morse put forward the motion proposing the council lobbied the government to allow UK residents a say on a final Brexit deal and an opportunity for a second referendum.
The councillors say both leavers and remainers had been ‘alienated’ by the plans which had yet to be agreed on, and councils should make a stand on behalf of their communities.
But the motion was defeated.
Coun Fojtik told The Observer: “Although the defeat was very disappointing, it’s important for national issues which impact locally to be discussed, especially something like Brexit which affects everyone.
“A lot of people are quite anxious, and are finding Brexit is not what they were told before the referendum.”