Everything is in place for growth
Other subjects discussed at the State of the Borough meeting included…
Plans for Ashford’s new learning campus will not be disrupted by its managers being involved in a proposed merger, councillors were assured. South Kent College (SKC) will run the £55 million campus at Victoria Road but there are proposals for it to merge with West Kent College. But Monica Box, of SKC, said of the campus: “There is a shared vision for a learning campus in the town. It is not disturbed by any merger proposal.” The campus is expected to open in 2010 with 14,000 students. The project is to improve local opportunities for post-16 education and also provide adult courses and
Richard Alderton suggested that the irony of the tumbling housing market is that more people would eventually be able to afford to buy as prices fell. He said: “With house prices falling many people will be able to afford housing. People will benefit once the credit crunch side is sorted.” He said with the present housing crisis, housing associations were offering to do more to help.
Ashford has a higher than average incidence of smoking during pregnancy and lower levels of physical activity among children. It also has a greater proportion of road injuries and deaths but otherwise the health of people in the borough is close to the average of England, an officers’ report said. Health inequalities are being tackled locally with projects such as the Green Gym at Singleton Environment Centre during 2008/09. This is one of the projects within the £300,000 budget of Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust over three years.
Law and order
Junior schools in the borough are involved in a Safety in Action scheme where pupils learn about stranger danger, drugs and alcohol and text bullying. Kent Police Ch Insp John Frayne told the meeting that pupils from The Towers secondary school are involved in helping the youngsters in the project. The meeting heard that Ashford has relatively low crime, compared with other local authority areas, and low perception of it. Recent successes have seen a 77 per cent fall in calls about nuisance gatherings.
Ashford Partnership wants to exploit the good road and rail links to London, East Sussex and the Continent to help the local economy, rather than let Ashford just become a commuter town. It will support the Highways Agency in bringing forward plans for the M20’s new Junction 10a and upgrading the capacity for Junction 9. It will also promote plans to build a road, Victoria Way, between Beaver Road and Brookfield Road to open up new sites for development and provide an alternative route around the town.