How bad does in need to get?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION -

“IT is not a dis­as­ter.” Those are the words Ash­ford coun­cil leader Paul Clokie used this week when re­spond­ing to more ques­tions about the un­ex­pected de­par­ture of the man in charge of de­liv­er­ing jobs and houses for the area. Yet the fact the coun­cil leader feels com­pelled to even use the word is an in­di­ca­tion that while re­cent events may not have not de­railed the drive to make Ash­ford a boom town, it is fac­ing some se­ri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties. If the gag­ging or­der given to coun­cil­lors not to dis­cuss the saga is any­thing to go by, the coun­cil clearly still has some lessons to learn about the mer­its of be­ing more open and can­did - not least about the chal­lenges it faces de­liv­er­ing the promised jobs and houses. It has now emerged there are se­ri­ous con­cerns that too lit­tle money is com­ing through to sup­port the costs of build­ing new roads, pro­vid­ing ex­tra school places and the other as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture needs. A re­port by Ash­ford’s Fu­ture sent to min­is­ters says the bor­ough needs more than £300mil­lion if the gov­ern­ment is to achieve its am­bi­tion to turn Ash­ford into Kent’s boom town. It warns that un­less Ash­ford is given top pri­or­ity - or “time-crit­i­cally pri­ori­tised” - the bid to boost the area’s econ­omy will not be “re­alised ef­fi­ciently.” In other words, it will not hap­pen. This sober as­sess­ment stand in stark con­trast to the con­stant up­beat pub­lic pro­nounce­ments from those in charge of de­liv­er­ing the gov­ern­ment’s growth agenda. Cllr Clokie may be right when he says it is not a dis­as­ter. But Ash­ford, like the Eng­land foot­ball team, needs to do much more than just talk a good game.

Cllr Clokie may be right when he says it is not a dis­as­ter. But Ash­ford, like the Eng­land foot­ball team, needs to do much more than just talk a good game.

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