Town set to prosper despite credit crisis
Ashford is entering the looming global recession in a position of strength, the council says. That was the message from Ashford Borough Council’s State of the Borough meeting last week, reports
ASHFORD could be one of the first towns to get out of the financial crisis and take advantage of an economic upturn.
The council believes that advantages such as the high speed rail link and low local costs for businesses could aid a speedier recovery.
Ashford Borough Council leader Paul Clokie, in his State of the Borough address, said: “In the difficult economic circumstances we’re experiencing at the moment some of our short term targets will not be delivered but this is long term.
“Ashford will be well placed to take advantage of an eventual upturn.”
Richard Alderton, head of planning and development, said: “With low costs for businesses in Ashford and quality of life, it is hard to find anyone best placed for an upturn.
“With the credit crunch Ashford should be in a position to pull out of that the quickest.”
The message of hope came last Thursday in the meeting that focused on the Sustaina- ble Community Strategy, the borough’s 10-year plan for the decade 2008-18.
Cllr Clokie stressed the area’s advantages, particularly the arrival of the high speed link in December 2009, which would halve journey times to London to 37 minutes.
He said the council was trying to market Ashford to potential developers and business with bonuses such as its closeness to London and the Continent.
The authority is also promoting the area’s below-average office rents.
Cllr Clokie cited achievements reached in the last year such as the redevelopment of the ring road and Bank Street and the creation of Elwick Square.
The extended County Square shopping centre opened in March and Cllr Clokie said: “It is trading reasonable well, given the current circumstances.”
Other developments Cllr Clokie cited were the Department for Environment’s agreement to meet two-thirds of the cost of providing a new Junction 10a on the M20.
He also reminded council- lors that the Department of Communities and Local Government in December gave £23 million in grant area funding for 2008-11.
Mr Alderton said that in 2007/ 08, 1,200 new jobs were created in Ashford.
Among the major companies Ashford has attracted is the Hitachi Rail Group, which has a train maintenance centre in the borough.
Richard Alderton who is confident that Ashford is well placed to come out of the credit crunch