Park­ing charges do not help high street shops

Our colum­nist with his unique view of Ash­ford life

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Waste Collection Latest -

Itook a lit­tle time out to read Si­mon Neville’s piece in the Ob­server – the piece in which he de­scribes County Square as look­ing like ‘a high street grave­yard’. His open­ing state­ment con­tains more than a grain of truth; the spec­tral pres­ences (or should I say ab­sences?) of HMV, Jes­sops and other ma­jor stores do in­deed haunt County Square like ghosts of Christ­mas past. And Park Mall, with its two crim­i­nally mu­ti­lated birch trees, has lit­tle to of­fer apart from the Pol­ish gro­cer’s shop with its large dis­play of cooked meats and in­scrutably la­belled dry goods.

In truth, the real thrust of Mr Neville’s ar­ti­cle was sym­pa­thetic to­ward retailers, point­ing out that the big prob­lem is the way in which the Govern­ment has al­lowed busi­ness rates to get out of hand.

Sadly, it was the com­ments gath­ered from lo­cal traders which gave the ar­ti­cle its neg­a­tive slant.

I’m all in favour of heap­ing blame on the coun­cil for their ac­tual failings but I re­ally can’t see how they can be deemed re­spon­si­ble for what is uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized to be a global malaise.

Mr Wooden (as quoted in the Ob­server ar­ti­cle) says that pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion of the town cen­tre has made things worse; that is com­plete non­sense.

Given the rise in pop­u­la­tion of the town in re­cent years and the num­bers of pedes­tri­ans fill­ing the

‘I’m all in favour of heap­ing blame on the coun­cil for their ac­tual failings but I re­ally can’t see how they can be deemed re­spon­si­ble for ... a global malaise’

streets, cou­pled with kamikaze cy­clists and the in­creas­ing use of elec­tric wheel­chairs, how on earth does he think a line or two of traf­fic down the mid­dle could pos­si­bly im­prove mat­ters?

Where some blame can rea­son­ably be laid at the coun­cil’s door is in the mat­ter of park­ing charges.

I don’t know whether it is the coun­cil’s em­ploy­ees or the elected mem­bers who are re­spon­si­ble for set­ting th­ese. Of course, the coun­cil­lors are ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for ap­prov­ing such things – but coun­cil­lors are rel­a­tively eas­ily ma­nip­u­lated by prom­ise of fat rev­enue.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the £200,000 pro­vided by Por­tas and Sains­bury’s will be spent and what the cost will be of the much­vaunted web­site and por­ta­ble tele­phone ap­pli­ca­tion to tell peo­ple where our re­main­ing shops are lo­cated.

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