Why transport in Stratford is key to town Partnership's aims - Colin Stewart

Why transport in Stratford is key to town Partnership's aims - Colin Stewart

The Stratford-upon-Avon Town Transport Group (TTG) is a joint working group formed around 12 years ago by the Stratford Society, the Town Council, and Stratforward BID, as a sounding board for transport issues, policies, and projects affecting the town.

In addition to the founding organisations, the group draws its membership from the District and County Councils, and Accessible Stratford. In addition, there is a technical sub-group made up of individuals with great expertise in the transport industry. The group is represented on the Stratford Strategic Partnership by its chairman Colin Stewart, a former director at civil engineering firm Arup.

He explains why an integrated approach to all forms of transport in the town is something the TTG is promoting, and the Partnership is looking to focus on to improve Stratford in the coming years:

“It’s fair to say that transport is one of the biggest issues affecting Stratford – whether that is through congestion caused by private vehicles, the effects of HGVs, provision of public transport, and encouraging alternative methods like walking and cycling.

“As part of the Partnership’s aims to revitalise Stratford and improve the town for residents, workers and visitors, transport is clearly a fundamental part of the jigsaw.

“If transport into, out of, and within the town is poor, the effects on the environment are significant, more people will decide not to come to Stratford, and that will affect the economy of the town. It is therefore vital we do everything we can to make sure policymakers come to an informed decision.

“Ultimately, the group is an advisory body, but our advice has been sought on a number of Stratford projects over the years, including the social distancing measures in force on the town’s streets in 2020. Our advice isn’t always incorporated into a final decision, but that is not our role.

“We are made up of all sorts of individuals who have worked in the transport sector for many years, so we can approach each problem with an informed perspective.

“And when it comes to the Strategic Partnership, it’s great that we are included in discussions and can pass on our insight and work towards a common goal of improving the town for all.

“One of the key projects we helped the Partnership on was advising the original bid for changes to Bridge Street and High Street, specifically around parking provision and keeping High Street closed to traffic at certain times.

“But what the Transport Group really wants to work towards is an integrated transport plan for Stratford. While the Bridge Street and High Street plans are a start, what we are really keen to do is to ensure a forward plan for the next 10, 15 to 20 years is mapped out which is based on planning for people mobility, not planning for vehicles which arguably has been the case in the past.

“A piecemeal approach to solving transport problems doesn’t solve the big issues, and can sometimes make matters worse. However, a range of connected solutions, such as public transport, parking, park and ride, autonomous vehicles, cycleways etc operating together has the potential to offer the mobility people need.

“An integrated transport plan would give us a clear blueprint for what changes need to happen across the whole town for transport to improve. And if an individual project goes against the integrated plan, we can use it to say it might not work and suggest a viable alternative.

“Joined-up, holistic thinking is the way to improve Stratford in the long term. It’s the ethos of the Town Transport Group and the Strategic Partnership too.

“It isn’t easy – Stratford is quite a small town which attracts a lot of visitors for its size, which puts pressure on the transport network – but with a collaborative approach, we can help make travelling into and around Stratford easier for everyone, and improve the environment at the same time.”