Push forward or we will be sidelined, says leader
THE leader of Ashford council has said the authority must capitalise on high-speed trains and modern designs or face becoming a “kiss and go” town.
Council leader Paul Clokie (Con) addressed his fellow councillors at the final council meeting of the year asking whether it should be down to the authority to grab the “opportunity by the bootlaces and finally accept that there is a need to drive for- ward and to strive, to achieve at least more than simply low council taxes”.
Cllr Clokie feared that if it did not, the council could be left as a “kiss and go town somewhere on the international rail system where few would want to live or let alone play”.
The Tory boss asked councillors whether they wanted to see a modern-looking town or whether they were prepared for a “Prince Charles-type battle for a more conservative approach”.
A meeting has been arranged for February to allow councillors to air their views.
The council leader also praised the £2.5 million revamp to the train station saying that the larger booking hall, new coffee bar and Welcome to Ashford lamp-post banners have made the area more attractive.
Some of the big plans for the council to tackle in 2010 include what to build on the Vicarage Lane car park and whether the old South Kent College building should be demolished and if so what should replace it.
Questions were raised by Cllr Clokie about the office buildings along Station Road and whether they would still be presentable in 20 years.
Work is due to start next year on junction 9a of the M20 and the creation of a new footbridge over the motorway and Ashford library will be knocked down and rebuilt.
A refurbishment of the town’s St Mary’s Church is due to begin. Plans for the “commercial quarter” in Elwick Place should be finalised.