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6th Jul, 2022

To be or not to be- wheel have to wait and see

STRATFORD’S controversial London Eye-style wheel is here for the summer – but there is no guarantee it will become a regular feature of the town’s skyline.

So says Jan De Koning, director of De Koning Leisure Group which are operating the observation wheel on the recreation ground. It opened for business at the weekend, and will operate until September, offering ten minute rides seven days a week from 11am to 9pm.

But Mr De Koning told The Observer he did not know if the wheel would return after its six month trial and that it would be up to the district council to make the decision.

The proposals prompted over 200 objections from residents who argued a wheel would be out of keeping with Shakespeare’s Stratford.

After a successful opening weekend, the 35 metre tall attraction, which cost £5 for an adult to ride, has won over some who opposed the proposals while others are still firmly against the new addition to the town’s skyline.

Mr De Koning said: “We had a really good response for our first weekend. I spoke to a lot of locals who said they were pleasantly surprised by the wheel’s appearance. People commented how it isn’t as gaudy as they were expecting.

“You can fit six people in each carriage and we were running at full capacity throughout both days which is great.

“The wheel was only ever a six month contract in our minds so we’ve not thought about anything more than that yet. It will be up to the authorities if they want a wheel again next year.”

And there were mixed reactions from residents. Ben Hullis took his children on the wheel at the weekend.

He said: “I think it’s good – it was nice for the kids.

“The signage makes it look a bit ‘fairground’ but it is something different for the town.

“Families seem to enjoy it – there were plenty queuing on the weekend. And it’s not too expensive.”

But former Stratford mayor Roy Lodge said the fear of objectors were correct now the wheel was in place.

He said: “As a town we may have a reputation that reacts fiercely to change and innovation which affects the character of our historic market town.

“It must now surely be evident to all right minded people that the protestations in objecting to the location and scale of the wheel were wholly justified.

“From whatever angle you look at it, it does not integrate with its surrounding compacted environment in terms of aesthetic value, scale and height.

“Had it been placed further down the recreation ground this would have been a more appropriate and acceptable location within the vicinity of other leisure activities.”

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