Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE -

A PRIVATE com­pany could take over the job of de­cid­ing how mil­lions of pounds of pub­lic money for ma­jor re­gen­er­a­tion schemes in Ash­ford is spent. Talks are un­der way over re­plac­ing Ash­ford’s Fu­ture with a not-for-profit lim­ited com­pany that would have the job of man­ag­ing con­tri­bu­tions from de­vel­op­ers to fund new roads, pro­vide more school places and other com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties. The private com­pany would be ac­count­able to a board made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ash­ford coun­cil, Kent County Coun­cil and gov­ern­ment agen­cies, as well as the private sec­tor. The board would mon­i­tor how the money is spent. The plan to es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent com­pany to take for­ward the Gov­ern­ment’s growth agenda in the town was be­ing con­sid­ered be­fore the abrupt de­par­ture of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Martin Ba­con last week. Ash­ford could fol­low the ex­am­ple of Cam­bridgeshire, which has al­ready set up a private com­pany as its “de­liv­ery ve­hi­cle” to han­dle re­gen­er­a­tion projects al­lied to the Gov­ern­ment’s plans. Coun­cil leader Cllr Paul Clokie said: “We had, in any case, come round to con­sid­er­ing whether Ash­ford’s Fu­ture was the best way to de­liver what is needed. The prob­lem is that we are now mov­ing for­ward from plan­ning to ac­tual de­liv­ery [of key projects]. It would re­ceive all the con­tri­bu­tions from de­vel­op­ers un­der Sec­tion 106 agree­ments.” He in­sisted that work be­ing done by Ash­ford’s Fu­ture had not been de­railed by Mr Ba­con’s res­ig­na­tion. “Ash­ford’s Fu­ture is not on hold. Ev­ery­thing that will hap­pen will roll on. It is not a dis­as­ter,” said Cllr Clokie. It is un­der­stood that more de­tails of the new or­gan­i­sa­tion are ex­pected to be set out in June.

Cllr Paul Clokie, leader of Ash­ford coun­cil

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