Like many I had mixed feelings about the meeting at The Art House last night.
I spoke to Helen Munro who in person was poised and warmer than I expected. She’s a pro, empathetic elbow touching, making eye contact and keeping her cool in room full of people that were wholly opposed to everything she was proposing. I’m not saying meeting Mrs Munro in person has had any effect on my view of the Trust and their wholly misguided actions, but at the same time I’m aware that when this is all over I hope that interactions between the Trust and the townfolk could be conducted on a more friendly level. Her assistant, solidly at her side, maintained icily that only 30 people had come out for the coffee morning at the weekend without flinching which made me laugh when I thought about it afterwards. It made me realise what we’re up against here. We are very much the enemy who need to be rubbished and ultimately crushed, there is no room for sentiment here.
For the record The Stratford Herald put the attendance figure at 100 when they visited at 10am – the event ran from 8 until 11, so estimates of 200 are not far off. A lot more than 30.
The other Trustees seemed to hold the line on the face of it but clearly some were nervous to be facing such obvious hostility from their fellow Stratfordians. Not all were there. I didn’t get to talk to the Chairman who I’m told is a London executive with a weekend place in Old Town, but feedback from those that did was that he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Given that the last two Chairmen have resigned over this very matter it did occur to me that it’s a sorry state of affairs that the only Chairman they can find is one who lives in London who doesn’t really see why the people he represents are upset. In a nutshell is everything that is wrong with this situation.
Towards the end of the evening there was a palpable sense of relief amongst the Trustee and hangers on as the pesky residents of Stratford filed out into the chilly night. I didn’t meet a single person there apart from Trust personnel and developers & architects who stand to get rich from the scheme, who was pro the development. Some people were visibly shocked as they looked at the plans and the reality of what was going to happen dawned on them. The plans have all been drawn up. I got the very real sense that as far as The Trust is concerned this is a done deal.
On the positive side opposition to the scheme seemed to solidify further last night. Stratford has some very talented professional people who will be gathering in the next week or so to formulate a plan on how to deal with The Trust. I’ll post updates on this as I learn more.
Finally the big question of the evening is “What Can I do?” Up and down the country middle England is getting crapped on by developers and land owners. This is very much a story of our time. The feeling of helplessness is one we all share and it leads to frustration and then anger, all of this was on display last night.
Right now there are 3 things you can do
1. Join the Town Trust (we’re raising questions on the validity of the membership issue at the moment but don’t let it stop you joining). Click here to get to the membership page – it’s free. Do it now. Don’t wait until you’ve had lunch, or picked up the kids, or whatever other little job crops up, download the form, get a pen whilst it’s printing, fill it out and drop it off in the post box at the Civic Hall / Arts House reception.
2. Wed 2nd MARCH is the Emergency General Meeting – 8.00 PM. There will be a vote on whether to proceed with the development. We think this is going to be a straight YES/NO vote but will advise how this is going to work as we find out- More info here
That’s all for today – will post an update on this when things move forward later in the week.