On target to hit 28,000 jobs total
ALTHOUGH many regard the target of 28,000 new jobs for Ashford by 2031 as a political pipedream, figures out this week show the town is still on course to achieve it. The figures claim to show that the £650m investment to transform the town is beginning to pay dividends. Latest findings from the Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) show that 3,100 jobs were created between 2001 and 2005 and that Ashford is now the fastest growing town between London and Europe. Abigail Raymond, acting manager for Ashford’s Future who took over the role from Martin Bacon, was delighted. She said: “We are confident we can hit our 28,000 jobs target by 2031. “The ABI survey, together with other economic factors, demonstrates we are definitely moving in the right direction” “While one should be cautious about using a single source of statistics, this, combined with the fact that unemployment rates between 2001 and 2006 remained unchanged at 1.6 per cent, paints a very bright picture.” Several major commercial developments under way will shortly boost jobs with an additional 700 at the £65m County Square shopping centre extension and between 250 and 500 expected at the soon to be completed Eureka Business Park development. The figures show that Ashford businesses grew by 29 per cent between 1998 and 2005, almost double the rate across the South East.