My wor­ries over pos­i­tive mar­ket re­search re­sults

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Weeds Shame -

Iwas re­cently taken to task for mak­ing dis­parag­ing com­ments about the town’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment chaps. I in­tended noth­ing per­sonal in my re­marks – I’m cer­tain that each of them is a good man (or woman) and true. The thing that wor­ries me is that if some­one is given the task of de­vel­op­ing the town’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment, it is that end and that alone to­ward which they will quite prop­erly chan­nel their great­est en­deav­ours. Trou­ble is, life is not merely about eco­nom­ics. It is in­ter­est­ing to find that re­search has shown the ar­eas of Bri­tain in which the hap­pi­est peo­ple dwell are mainly lo­cated in the North of the coun­try – ar­eas which are gen­er­ally held to be of rel­a­tive eco­nomic de­pri­va­tion. Mrs B and I were vis­ited last Sun­day evening by a friend, a vol­u­ble French­woman who had, un­til a few years ago, lived in Ash­ford. Pretty well the first thing she said was (and here I roughly trans­late, leav­ing out the ex­ple­tives): “Where has Ash­ford gone? What has hap­pened? What are they do­ing to the town?” I be­came some­what de­fen­sive, played devil’s ad­vo­cate and tried to ex­plain that a town, any town, has to some ex­tent be run as a busi­ness and it is in the na­ture of peo­ple who run busi­nesses to want their en­ter­prise to grow. I told her of the

‘Where has Ash­ford gone? What are they do­ing to the town?’

coun­cil’s plans to build many more houses not only within the town’s im­me­di­ate bound­aries but also on Chilm­ing­ton Green. I voiced the coun­cil’s in­ten­tion to at­tract busi­nesses to the town, thus cre­at­ing more jobs for the peo­ple who would move here to oc­cupy the new houses. I showed her Gerry Clark­son’s en­thu­si­as­tic “Coun­cil Talk” col­umn in last week’s KE. I told her of the won­der­ful rise in the num­ber of hair­dressers in the town. I pointed out Cllr Clark­son’s as­ser­tion that a mar­ket re­search com­pany had de­clared Ash­ford to be voted “the best busi­ness lo­ca­tion in Kent”. I find two things wor­ry­ing about this. The first is that the study in­volved in­ter­views with a va­ri­ety of busi­ness peo­ple… “who had not even con­sid­ered re­lo­cat­ing in Kent”. The sec­ond was pointed out by my French friend: “The con­clu­sions of any mar­ket re­search de­pend very much on who com­mis­sioned the study.” I don’t know who ac­tu­ally did com­mis­sion the study – but I’ll bet my boots it wasn’t Scun­thorpe.

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