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Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

Editor Robert Bar­man 01233 623232 rbar­man@thek­m­group.co.uk News editor Alas­tair Irvine 01233 623232 airvine@the km­group.co.uk Sport ex­presss­port@thek­m­group.co.uk Text: Text EX­PRESS fol­lowed by your mes­sage to 87474. Please in­clude your name and post­code. Mes­sages must not be more than 160 char­ac­ters and will be charged only at your stan­dard net­work rate. Please visit ken­ton­line.co.uk/terms for tex­ting terms. Ad­ver­tis­ing Tel 01233 623232 Fax 01233 626545 Ad­ver­tise­ment man­ager Kim Billings, 01233 623232, kbillings@thek­m­group.co.uk Clas­si­fied ad­ver­tis­ing Tel 01233 623232. News­pa­per sales (in­clud­ing de­liv­ery, dis­tri­bu­tion, com­pe­ti­tions, reader of­fers and sub­scrip­tions): Of­fice hours, an­swer­phone there­after: 0800 525450 Head of­fice: Med­way House, Gins­bury Close, Thomas Lon­g­ley Road, Med­way, City Es­tate, Strood, Rochester ME2 4DU. Tel 01622 717880, Fax 01622 710937. Com­plaints: Any com­plaint about any as­pect of this news­pa­per should be made to the editor, Robert Bar­man, 01233 623232 rbar­man@thek­m­group.co.uk Cus­tomer Ser­vices (for ad­ver­tis­ing queries): email cus­tom­erser­vices@ thek­m­group.co.uk 0800 0855810

As has been re­ported re­cently the town’s trans­for­ma­tion is now gath­er­ing mo­men­tum with not one or two but a hand­ful of sig­nif­i­cant projects mov­ing for­ward at a pace. Ash­ford’s Com­mer­cial Quar­ter, which is set to be­come an im­por­tant busi­ness lo­ca­tion not only for Ash­ford but for the South East, will see the first new of­fice block started in the next few months, with a num­ber of oth­ers likely to come for­ward there­after. The Quar­ter is just be­hind In­ter­na­tional House, op­po­site Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Sta­tion, and will in­clude of­fice space and park­ing.

I am pleased to see so many projects, which have been talked about for some time, now get­ting un­der way and know this is what makes peo­ple sit up and take no­tice. We can get en­grossed in de­liv­er­ing th­ese new projects, but there is also a real need to en­sure other im­por­tant mat­ters also re­ceive our se­ri­ous at­ten­tion.

One such mat­ter is health­care in our area and it is im­per­a­tive we en­sure A&E pro­vi­sion at the Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal is not only kept here, but is de­vel­oped and im­proved. Our Na­tional Health Ser­vice, which is of­ten un­der so much pres­sure, needs to be nur­tured and cher­ished.

I am also pleased to wel­come a £30 mil­lion pri­vate hos­pi­tal of­fer­ing state-of-the-art health­care fa­cil­i­ties, which opens in Ash­ford on Fe­bru­ary 18. More than 90 jobs have been cre­ated at One Ash­ford Hos­pi­tal, lo­cated next to the Wil­liam Har­vey. This new hos­pi­tal will have 10 con­sult­ing rooms, four op­er­at­ing the­atres, four treat­ment rooms and an MRI imag­ing suite.

We are also con­scious of the in­creased level and fre­quency of flood­ing, that has af­fected many ar­eas across the UK. Our plan­ning pol­icy ap­proach to new de­vel­op­ment ad­dresses the need for ef­fec­tive and sus­tain­able sur­face drainage ar­range­ments. This has been most ef­fec­tive and for many years now new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments have been largely un­af­fected by se­ri­ous flood­ing. We will con­tinue to re­view th­ese poli­cies and be mak­ing even more al­lowances for the ef­fec­tive han­dling of in­creased fre­quency and level of rain­fall.

Other im­por­tant mat­ters such as af­ford­able hous­ing, su­per­fast broad­band for the en­tire bor­ough, HGV park­ing in in­ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tions, pro­tec­tion of our coun­try­side and en­force­ment against un­reg­u­lated and un­law­ful de­vel­op­ment are just some of the chal­lenges we have to ad­dress and about which I will com­ment fur­ther in the com­ing months.

So there is sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment and in­vest­ment com­ing for­ward, but with much work to be done. Let’s work to­gether to keep that mo­men­tum.

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