French teacher leads fight to keep trains to Brus­sels

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE -

A TEACHER’S bat­tle to keep Eurostar ser­vices from Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional run­ning has drawn sup­port from Kent County Coun­cil.

Edith Rob­son, from Willes­bor­ough, a for­mer French teacher at the Tow­ers School, has so far col­lected 2,500 sig­na­tures on a pe­ti­tion call­ing for Eurostar to keep trains to Brus­sels run­ning from the sta­tion.

The rail firm is plan­ning to re­lo­cate most of its Con­ti­nen­tal ser­vices from Ash­ford to Ebb­s­fleet in north Kent.

Last week, a cross-party group of Euro­pean Par­lia­ment mem­bers an­nounced they were sup­port­ing Mrs Rob­son, af­ter meet­ing her in the Bel­gian cap­i­tal, and Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil has also pledged its sup­port.

Now KCC has joined them. Roger Gough, cabi­net mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion, said: “Ash­ford is be­ing pro­moted as one of the Gov­ern­ment’s growth ar­eas be­cause it has the right rail con­nec­tions.

“To re­duce in­ter­na­tional ser­vices at Ash­ford will un­der­mine the town’s growth po­ten­tial.

“Kent County Coun­cil and Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil are do­ing all they can to bring more pres­sure to bear on Eurostar.

“If they ig­nore lo­cal peo­ple in the Ash­ford area, they will lose cus­tom.”

Op­po­si­tion to the cut­backs in ser­vices has also come from three other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the South East: East Sus­sex, West Sus­sex and Hamp­shire.

East Sus­sex County Coun­cil leader Peter Jones said: “This is also our fight in East Sus­sex.

“We see this with­drawal of ser­vices as a real threat to the re­gen­er­a­tion of our econ­omy, es­pe­cially in vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas like Hast­ings.”

Roy Perry, Hamp­shire County Coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and ex­ter­nal af­fairs, said: “It seems very strange to cut ser­vices at a time when record num­bers of pas­sen­gers are us­ing the ser­vice from Ash­ford.”

Any­one who would like to sign the pe­ti­tion can con­tact Mrs Rob­son on wheesht37@ya­

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