A flash mob muscled in on the Mayor of Stafford Borough’s speech to kick off entertainment for the opening of the town’s refurbished Market Square.
Singing, dancing and street performances helped celebrate the first event to be held since the completion of work on the Square on Saturday (28 October). Thousands of residents, shoppers and visitors dropped in during the afternoon and were treated to a variety of entertainment.
Leader of Stafford Borough Council, Aidan Godfrey, said: “The reaction from the public was really positive. Lots of children and families were having a great time. We now have a fantastic facility for staging all kinds of public events.”
Councillor Godfrey had handed over the microphone for the Mayor, Councillor Andy Cooper, to officially open proceedings. But before he had the chance, members of the Stafford Youth Theatre wrestled the mic from his hands and began a version of the ‘Time Warp’ - to get the party atmosphere underway.
There were also performances from the local Dappa Dance and Stafford Rock Choir with Angie Mack Hula Hoop Show keeping the audience entertained. Food, drink, craft, and a range of other stalls lined the Market Square which has undergone a major refurbishment - including 2,500 square metres of paving, new furniture and planting, and significant improvements to underground infrastructure such as utility supplies and drainage.
It is the first phase of the transformation of the High Street with the work enabling the area to attract more events and specialist markets. The project was funded through a successful borough council bid to the government’s Future High Street Fund (FHSF).
Earlier this month senior councillors in Stafford gave the green light for the authority to purchase the former Co-op department store in the centre of the town with plans for a mix of retail, residential, market provision and a food court. And work will also start in the next few months on enhancing the entrance and approach to Stafford Railway Station as part of the FHSF programme.
Councillor Godfrey said: “This is a very important step along the road to regenerating our county town. The borough council has listened to people’s views and has made improving the town centre its number one priority.
“What we now have is a fitting centre piece for our county town and a Market Square which is fit for purpose to stage more events and quality markets in the future.”
He added:” I know how hard the borough council staff have worked, along with the landscape architects, Xanthe Quayle, and construction company, McPhillips, to achieve this. I would also like to thank everyone involved with organising the opening event - as always it was a great show and the people that attended really enjoyed the day.”
His deputy, Councillor Rob Kenney, who is leading on the town centre regeneration, added: “We have such exciting plans and the completion of the Market Square is only the start. We will be pushing ahead with some really exciting proposals to bring in more investment, more retail, increased footfall and make our residents and businesses proud of their town again.”
Stafford FM provided music and commentary throughout the day with Stafford Corps of Drums, Jazz singer Sarah Eastwood and others joining in the celebration.
Further projects in and around the town centre include the Staffordshire History Centre off Eastgate Street and plans to transform land behind the railway station - which will include a government-backed Institute of Technology for Stafford College as well as new businesses, homes, and leisure.
Press Release No 6080