Are high-profile projects at risk?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - JUNCTION 10 -

THE news of Mr Ba­con’s sud­den de­par­ture has left Ash­ford coun­cil wrestling with an or­gan­i­sa­tional headache at a crit­i­cal point for sev­eral high-profile projects.

It is un­der­stood a meet­ing of the Ash­ford’s Fu­ture De­liv­ery Board took place a few weeks ago. Mr Ba­con at­tended but no ref­er­ence was made to his fu­ture.

Coun­cil leader Paul Clokie (Con) sought to down­play the sign­f­i­cance of the res­ig­na­tion and even sug­gested it pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity to re­assess how the quango, which is funded to the tune of £500,000 a year, worked.

“Given what has hap­pened, there is an op­por­tu­nity to re­assess the way in which we should do the next phase of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture.

“We are in the process of look­ing at dif­fer­ent ways of or­gan­is­ing the growth agenda for Ash­ford,” said Cllr Clokie.

He praised the work done by Mr Ba­con, say­ing: “He has done a good job and has moved things for­ward. When he came, we had no or­gan­i­sa­tion set up and he has done a lot of work with the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment.”

Cllr Roger Gough, Kent County Coun­cil’s cabi­net mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion, who also sits on the Ash­ford’s Fu­ture board, said: “I wouldn’t want to draw any con­clu­sions from this in terms of what Ash­ford’s Fu­ture is do­ing. It is im­por­tant that this does not have a dis­rup­tive ef­fect. We are al­ways pre­pared to look at ways in which the board works.”

Oth­ers were shocked by the news. Ash­ford county coun­cil­lor Derek Smyth said: “This is re­ally un­ex­pected. I knew noth­ing about it.”

Cllr Peter Dav­i­son, leader of the in­de­pen­dent group, said he had mis­giv­ings about how the quango op­er­ated. “We will be ask­ing per­ti­nent ques­tions and this should of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to open up the Ash­ford’s Fu­ture board to other coun­cil­lors so we have proper rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Martin Ba­con, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture, has sur­prised coun­cil­lors by leav­ing his post

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