Looking back on the big events of the year

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion -

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.

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