Fear will drive vis­i­tors away

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion -

ASH­FORD has a tra­di­tion of be­ing a wel­com­ing and hos­pitable town. Since the war, thou­sands have taken up res­i­dence as the town has ex­panded. New hous­ing es­tates en­cour­aged a huge in­flux of peo­ple from places like the Lon­don sub­urbs. Many ex Gurkhas and their fam­i­lies have also set­tled per­ma­nently here. More re­cently we have seen refugees and mi­grants start a new life in Ash­ford. The town’s links with Europe also means that we gladly re­ceive more Euro­pean vis­i­tors than many other towns in the south east. So it dis­ap­point­ing and wor­ry­ing to hear that for­eign stu­dents have been tar­geted by brain­less thugs. To­day we re­port on a dis­turb­ing at­tack on a teenage Dutch vis­i­tor, who due to his ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence has vowed never to re­turn to Ash­ford. It’s a wor­ry­ing ex­am­ple of how some of our own young res­i­dents, al­beit it a very small mi­nor­ity, act. They have no re­spect for oth­ers and have no idea of the im­pact of their ac­tions. The teenage vis­i­tor they at­tacked and the friends with him they ter­ri­fied have gone home to tell their fam­ily and ac­quain­tances their opin­ion of Ash­ford, and it will not be a good one. We ob­vi­ously hope the cul­prits will be caught and pun­ished. For­eign vis­i­tors should be free to come here without be­ing abused, ha­rassed or even worse. Euro­pean stu­dents, tourists and work­ers are a valu­able ad­di­tion to all our lives and must not be de­terred from com­ing here and go­ing about their busi­ness freely and without fear.

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