No sur­prises in store…un­less you drive

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - ‘when I Saw The Car I Burst Out Crying’ -

For many Ash­ford res­i­dents the num­ber one on their wish list would be for Pri­mark to open a shop in the town, closely fol­lowed by the de­sire to see IKEA build a fur­ni­ture store here.

But, while not wish­ing to dis­ap­point, sadly it’s look­ing very much as though nei­ther dream is likely to come true, cer­tainly not in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

When­ever we run a story about what could im­prove Ash­ford town cen­tre peo­ple in­vari­ably say ‘give us a Pri­mark’ or ‘let there be an IKEA’.

So, we thought we’d con­tact both com­pa­nies about the like­li­hood of them open­ing up here.

Pri­mark has 250 stores across the UK, Ire­land and Europe – with Kent branches in Chatham, Dart­ford, Gravesend, Folke­stone, Maid­stone, Mar­gate and West­wood Cross Thanet.

But sadly the firm tells us they have no plans to set up shop in Ash­ford so it looks like any­one seek­ing Pri­mark mer­chan­dise is go­ing to have to con­tinue driv­ing up or down the M20 to ei­ther Folke­stone or Maid­stone to stock up on bar­gain cloth­ing and home­ware.

Like­wise with IKEA. The com­pany told us: “We are con­sid­er­ing Kent as a po­ten­tial lo­ca­tion for IKEA. How­ever we have noth­ing to con­firm at this point in time. Cus­tomers in this area can con­tinue to pur­chase IKEA prod­ucts online at www.ikea.co.uk.”

Al­ter­na­tively, IKEA fans can drive through the Dart­ford Tun­nel to Lake­side or head to Croy­don – the near­est stores to Ash­ford – to pick up their flat-packs.

The econ­omy may be show­ing signs of re­cov­ery but for many of us there’s still a whiff of aus­ter­ity in the air.

So we were a lit­tle sur­prised to hear that five dou­ble recharg­ing points for elec­tric cars are be­ing cre­ated in Ash­ford bor­ough – three in Ash­ford it­self and two more in Ten­ter­den.

They are among 43 be­ing in­stalled across the county, even though there are cur­rently only about 50 elec­tric cars in the whole of Kent! So, in other words there will be al­most one elec­tric recharg­ing point for ev­ery elec­tric car in Kent.

No queues at the plug-in points then.

An­nounc­ing the pro­vi­sion for Ash­ford bor­ough at a re­cent Cab­i­net meet­ing, Cllr Bernard Heyes, ABC port­fo­lio holder for trans­porta­tion, high­ways and engineering, said: “Al­though there are cur­rently only a small num­ber of own­ers of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in the county, sta­tis­tics sug­gest this will in­crease over the com­ing years so it is im­por­tant for us to pro­vide the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture to run, and recharge, the ve­hi­cles.”

The money to in­stall the charg­ers – about £237,000 for the lot – is be­ing pro­vided in grant form to Kent County Coun­cil from the Depart­ment for Trans­port, which is keen to in­crease the take-up of elec­tric cars.

Elec­tric car own­ers will ob­vi­ously have to pay to use one of the charg­ers and there’s an op­tion to de­com­mis­sion the charg­ing points if they are not pop­u­lar or fi­nan­cially vi­able ... how re­as­sur­ing.

As we’re talk­ing about elec­tric­ity there’s only one word to de­scribe this crack­pot, money-wast­ing scheme – SHOCK­ING!

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