Are high-profile projects at risk?
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