Car park clo­sure hits traders

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Sarah Mar­shall and Sam Len­non ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­

A TOWN cen­tre car park will not re­open be­fore Christ­mas.

The Ed­in­burgh Road multi-storey was closed on Oc­to­ber 20 for re­pairs and was due to re­open on Novem­ber 7 in time for the peak shop­ping pe­riod.

But the dis­cov­ery of a crack in the ramp sup­port has caused a ma­jor de­lay and means it will be closed un­til the new year. Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil, which runs the car park, is un­able to give a date when it will re­open.

The clo­sure of the 289-space car park is af­fect­ing shop­pers, traders and town cen­tre em­ploy­ees. It is also re­sult­ing in lost in­come of £325,771 for Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil, plus a ris­ing bill for re­pairs.

Shop man­agers have ques- tioned the coun­cil as to why bosses chose to carry out the main­te­nance in the run up to Christ­mas.

Coun­cil bosses said they had con­sid­ered leav­ing the work un­til the new year, but were con­cerned about the weather.

They thought a cold snap could mean ice pen­e­trat­ing the cracks, ex­pand­ing and caus­ing fur­ther dam­age.

On Satur­day shop­pers us­ing the NCP car park next door to the closed coun­cil one sat in lengthy queues to get into and out of the car park.

Town cen­tre traders, al­ready feel­ing the eco­nomic down­turn and chang­ing shop­ping habits, said the car park clo­sure has been an­other blow for them.

Ash­ford coun­cil spokesman Dean Spurrell said: “Ed­in­burgh Road car park is shut in the in­ter­est of pub­lic safety and will be re­opened as soon as a per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary so­lu­tion can be found. We apol­o­gise for any in­con­ve­nience.

“There was no in­ten­tion to cre­ate dis­rup­tion over the Christ­mas pe­riod, but other car parks are avail­able to use and many of th­ese have spare ca­pac­ity in­clud­ing the Civic Cen­tre/ Stour Cen­tre and Dover Place car parks.”

Ed­in­burgh Road car park

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