From one petrol head to another: We’re on right road
AND the award for the most amusing speech goes to... Cllr Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council!
The KCC chief took to the podium at Norton Knatchbull school’s prize-giving evening on Friday to praise pupils’ achievements.
But he also seized the opportunity to take a friendly pop at Jeremy Clarkson, who criticised Ashford’s shared space scheme in his column in The Sun the previous Saturday.
Cllr Carter read out the Top Gear presenter’s article, much to the amusement of the boys.
And he won support from some of the parents (see Letters, pages 10-11).
In his article, Mr Clarkson warned of the “dance of death” faced by people using the shared space scheme, which is the reworked area that includes Elwick Road, Bank Street, West Street and Forge Lane, where barriers and signals have been removed and traffic and pedestrians share the same space.
Mr Clarkson, who declined our request for an interview, wrote in The Sun: “Doing away with lights and pelican crossings is a bit like doing away with bolts in scaffolding on a building site in the hope labourers walk around a bit more carefully.”
Explaining his speech at the Ashford boys’ grammar school, Cllr Carter said: “I was talking up the ring road and saying what a brave and bold scheme it is, which is looking really good.
“The operational part will come when we’ve built the other roads, which are part of the whole concept.”
Cllr Carter and Mr Clarkson may have opposing opinions when it comes to the shared space scheme, but they are both car lovers.
“I’m a self-confessed petrol head and race cars as a hobby at weekends all round Europe,” the Tory council leader said.
Cllr Carter, who in a comment in last week’s Kentish Express invited Mr Clarkson to visit Ashford, also has another idea for his fellow motoring fan.
“I’ve got a very cunning plan that I want to talk to him about.
“It involves running on his show a really good project that I think would be right up his street.
“I’m going to tempt him down to Kent and get him to have a look.”
Cllr Carter would not reveal any more of his idea or say whether or not it involved Ashford.
“It’s a wacky scheme that I think would fit their programme very well and is very environmentally friendly, that’s all I will say.”
Presenter Jeremy Clarkson and KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter
Ashford artist Cathy Streeter with her cow engravings and the grill where the sound comes from. Below, former Beaver Road resident Harold Hall, whose memories are included Main picture by Paul Amos pd1514293; inset picture Cpl Steve Wood