Keep­ing it zipped

SHOCK DE­PAR­TURE: Coun­cil hides be­hind state­ment rather than an­swer our ques­tions

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Paul Francis

COUN­CIL chiefs are this week re­fus­ing to re­veal the rea­sons be­hind the shock res­ig­na­tion of the man in charge of bring­ing new jobs and busi­nesses to Ash­ford. Martin Ba­con, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture, the re­gen­er­a­tion quango set up to bring in­vest­ment into the town and over­see the build­ing of 31,000 homes, quit sud­denly on Mon­day. Coun­cil chiefs re­fused to say whether they are go­ing to do any­thing about a web­site that has pub­lished a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions about Mr Ba­con.

THE man in charge of bring­ing new jobs and busi­nesses to Ash­ford un­ex­pect­edly quit his job this week.

Martin Ba­con, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture, the re­gen­er­a­tion quango set up to drive in­vest­ment into the town and over­see the build­ing of 31,000 ex­tra homes in the area, re­signed sud­denly on Mon­day.

His abrupt de­par­ture has stunned coun­cil­lors and oth­ers in­volved in some of the town’s high-profile re­gen­er­a­tion schemes.

Nei­ther Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil or the South East Eng­land De­vel­op­ment Agency (SEEDA) were pre­pared to say whether they were go­ing to do any­thing about a web­site that has pub­lished a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions about Mr Ba­con.

How­ever, in a short state­ment SEEDA did con­firm that Mr Ba­con, who was re­port­edly on a six-fig­ure salary, was the sub­ject of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion prior to quit­ting.

The res­ig­na­tion has left Ash­ford’s Fu­ture in tur­moil and the loss of a key fig­ure will re-ig­nite anx­i­eties over the area’s abil­ity to cap­i­talise on its sta­tus as a des­ig­nated gov­ern­ment growth area.

Ash­ford coun­cil de­clined to re­spond to a se­ries of ques­tions the Ken­tish Ex­press asked about Mr Ba­con. In a short state­ment, it said: “We have been no­ti­fied that Martin Ba­con, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture, has re­signed his po­si­tion. He was em­ployed by the South East of Eng­land De­vel­op­ment Agency (SEEDA) and worked on sec­ond­ment to Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil to work with key pub­lic, private and gov­ern­ment part­ners to man­age the Ash­ford growth pro­gramme.”

SEEDA was also tight-lipped and is­sued an al­most iden­ti­cal state­ment, which stated: “He was em­ployed by the South East Eng­land De­vel­op­ment Agency (SEEDA) but worked on sec­ond­ment to Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil.

“He and his team were based in Ash­ford and he re­ported to the coun­cil in his man­age­rial po­si­tion.

It is not ap­pro­pri­ate for SEEDA to dis­cuss the mat­ters of a private dis­ci­plinary case out­side the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Coun­cil leader Paul Clokie, who also chairs the Ash­ford’s Fu­ture board which mon­i­tors the quango, said: “He has left for his own per­sonal rea­sons and I am not pre­pared to dis­cuss them.”

Coun­cil chiefs have hinted they may con­sider a wide-rang­ing re­view of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture “to de­liver the next phase of growth”.

Martin Ba­con has re­signed amid a flurry of spec­u­la­tion

Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil leader Paul Clokie: “He left for his own per­sonal rea­sons and I am not pre­pared to dis­cuss them.”

Coun­cil leader Paul Clokie and chief ex­ec­u­tive David Hill with Martin Ba­con in hap­pier times be­fore his mys­te­ri­ous res­ig­na­tion

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