HAND DECISIONS TO PRIVATE COMPANY
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