Looking back on the big events of the year
As this is my last column for 2008, I will observe tradition and look back at the year. On a personal basis it has taken rather a dramatic turn over the past few weeks, but I think for the moment enough has been said about that. I will stick to the big events of the year for Ashford. I suspect more comment has been made about the road system in the town centre than about any other centre in the UK apart from London when the congestion charge was first imposed. Like everyone else, I spent months fuming with frustration while the works to set up the shared space were going on (and on!). Unlike some others, I like the idea of shared space, and I think the immediate visual impression of the road and the lights is that they look modern and distinctive. As a huge fan of Top Gear I am reluctant to disagree with Jeremy Clarkson – but he is wrong about this. The last few times I have driven through the centre, traffic has flowed comfortably. And pedestrians have become used to the system. The other great issue of the year has also involved transport, with Eurostar’s welcome decision to bring back the Ashford-Brussels service. It has been a huge frustration that the fire in the Channel Tunnel has delayed the start of the service. I know that we are not getting back the full number of trains we used to have, but I think the long-term effect on jobs in the town of having a direct service will be significant, and all the more necessary given the dark economic clouds around us. I suspect travel and transport will be equally important in 2009, but that is for another time and another column. Have a happy and peaceful Christmas.