THE DAZZLING return of the observation wheel to Stratford has got townspeople in a spin.
The wheel divided opinion during its first year of operation last summer with many claiming it was out of keeping with Shakespeare’s Stratford and had no place in the town.
Stratford District Council recently granted permission for it to turn again for the next three summers, between March and October, under new operators Danter Attractions.
But with the wheel, next to the historic Tramway Bridge, set to start taking on customers again over the Easter weekend, concrns have been raised at it being lit with flashing lights in the evening.
Former mayor Cyril Bennis is not impressed.
He told The Observer: “Somebody is taking us for a ride – having a laugh.
“It’s vulgar, it belongs in the middle of a big city, not here where residents are faced with it every day. Something many people didn’t want in the first place has been taken to the extreme.
“To see it in all its glory is unbelievable. It belongs at a fun fair. It’s completely overpowering.
“This light pollution is not acceptable. It’s making a mockery of the town.
“I am staggered if Stratford District Council knew about this.”
Mr Bennis, who cares for the swan population on the Avon, is also concerned at the effect it could have on wildlife, fearing it could cause distress.
Townspeople have described it on social media as ‘tacky’ and like something belonging in Las Vegas, although a few have welcomed the illuminated addition to the town’s skyline.
Stratford District Council officer Tony Perks said the final configuration of lighting was yet to be agreed but would be in line with planning permission.
Last summer the wheel caused much debate, prompting over 200 objections to its planning application, but when reconsidering
extending permission this year the council received just ten objections.
But a planning report concluded the wheel would reinforce and promote Stratford’s role as tourist destination, and while it recognised it would have some ‘detrimental impact’ on the area, it was not substantial and would only be temporary.