Fear will drive visitors away
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.