Push for­ward or we will be side­lined, says leader

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­group.co.uk

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.

De­mol­ished

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.

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