Tak­ing care of our jewel in the crown

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Nuts & Bolts -

Here at Nuts and Bolts we were de­lighted to see that the Hu­bert Foun­tain in Vic­to­ria Park has been given fur­ther pro­tec­tion as a listed mon­u­ment by His­toric Eng­land. Ash­ford has a few no­table mod­ern land­marks – the De­signer Outlet, the Eureka Sky­way Bridge over the M20 and (dare we say it) the Bolt sculp­ture in El­wick Road – but few his­toric ones.

So it’s nice to know that the foun­tain, first show­cased at a Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety Ex­hi­bi­tion in Lon­don in 1862 and later in­stalled in the grounds at Olantigh Tow­ers near Wye be­fore it was do­nated to the park in 1912 by Ge­orge Harper, has in­creased pro­tec­tion.

It’s now been up­graded to be­come a Grade II listed struc­ture, a pro­tec­tion sta­tus re­served for only 5.5% of the listed build­ings in the coun­try.

Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil is hop­ing the up­grad­ing will en­hance its bid to the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund for new fund­ing to re­store and take care of what has been de­scribed as a “won­der­ful jewel in the bor­ough’s crown”.

If fund­ing is ap­proved it will be the third restora­tion of the foun­tain fol­low­ing pre­vi­ous re­vamps in 1977 ahead of the Queen’s Sil­ver Ju­bilee, and then again in 1998 af­ter a Na­tional Lot­tery Fund grant of £367,000.

The Hu­bert Foun­tain is an eye-catch­ing struc­ture that’s ad­mired by many res­i­dents and vis­i­tors, and long may that be the case. And talk­ing of struc­tures … a new study (oh how Nuts and Bolts loves a good sur­vey) re­veals that the av­er­age house price in Kent could be £515,719 by 2030.

The eye­wa­ter­ing sta­tis­tics are con­tained in “The House Price of the Fu­ture” re­search, re­leased by eMoov, an on­line es­tate agent com­pany.The fig­ures are based on an av­er­age rate of 84% in­crease in UK prop­erty val­ues be­tween 2000 and 2015.

So prop­erty mag­nates Fer­gus and Ju­dith Wil­son who owned hun­dreds of rental prop­er­ties in Ash­ford and across Kent may now be wish­ing they hadn’t re­cently sold their port­fo­lio.

They made mil­lions when they did sell, but if they’d hung on a few more years could have made multi-mil­lions.

And, talk­ing of house prices, new re­search by on­line es­tate agents HouseSim­ple.com (oh how Nuts and Bolts loves a good sur­vey) shows that peo­ple are will­ing to pay well over the odds for houses within the catche­ment area of best­per­form­ing, state-funded pri­mary schools.

Ap­par­ently, fam­i­lies are hav­ing to pay a pre­mium of al­most £44,000 to buy a prop­erty near pri­mary schools judged as out­stand­ing by Of­sted in­spec­tors.

The sur­vey looked at av­er­age prop­erty prices in catch­ment ar­eas for 50 state-funded pri­mary schools across Eng­land that re­ceived the high­est Of­sted rat­ing and then com­pared those with av­er­age house prices for the whole post­code.

The re­search found prices in streets close to out­stand­ing pri­mary schools were on av­er­age 18% higher than those for the whole area post­code.

Have you ever stood be­hind some­one in a su­per­mar­ket/shop queue and got ir­ri­tated when they pay for one very in­ex­pen­sive item with a credit or debit card?

A member of the Nuts and Bolts team was in the cafe at Waitrose, Rep­ton Park, last week when a man paid for a ba­nana (YES ONE BA­NANA) with his credit card. The price was 25p! Our man re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to ask the pur­chaser why he didn’t have the hum­ble sum of 25p in loose change in his pocket.

The strange thing is that many cor­ner shops and pubs have a £5 “min­i­mum spend” on cards be­cause they them­selves are charged by Mastercard or Visa for such trans­ac­tions (pre­sum­ably a few pence for ev­ery pur­chase) so that eats into their profit.

But change is afoot be­cause ev­ery re­tailer will have to of­fer tap-and-go pay­ments within five years in a move that’s set to see the “min­i­mum spend” dis­ap­pear.

In the rush to cre­ate a cash­less so­ci­ety, all shops will by 2020 have to in­stall so-called “con­tact­less” ter­mi­nals to con­tinue tak­ing card pay­ments.

Un­der the re­quire­ments, be­ing im­posed by Visa and Mastercard, shop­pers must be given the op­tion to pay for small pur­chases up to £30 by swip­ing a debit or credit card over the card reader.

Con­tact­less pay­ments can be cheaper to process and ob­vi­ously help speed up sales.

As more peo­ple switch to us­ing tap-and-go in­stead of cash for small pur­chases, banks are be­ing forced to re­duce the amount they charge for each card trans­ac­tion.

So ex­perts say the changes will en­able re­tail­ers to scrap the un­pop­u­lar min­i­mum spend rule al­to­gether.

Thus Ba­nana Man and oth­ers will be free to con­tinue buy­ing what­ever they like by card, no mat­ter how small the pur­chase price is. Whoop­whoop! And, talk­ing of shop­ping, why is it that so many shop­pers with over­flow­ing trol­lies in su­per­mar­kets like Sains­bury’s in Si­mone Weil Av­enue, Ash­ford, con­tinue to use the bas­kets only self-swipe tills? There’s a huge sign say­ing Bas­kets Only swing­ing in the breeze above the six check­outs, yet still the trol­ley-ists head for them, bla­tantly ignoring the re­quest and in­con­ve­nienc­ing oth­ers who only have a few items to quickly scan through. So come on Sains­bury’s, in­struct the as­sis­tant mon­i­tor­ing th­ese tills to tell peo­ple with trol­lies that they can’t use th­ese check­outs.

The Hu­bert Foun­tain in Vic­to­ria Park has been up­graded to be­come a Grade II listed struc­ture, a pro­tec­tion sta­tus re­served for only 5.5% of the listed build­ings in the coun­try

Pic­ture: Re­bekah Downes/PA Pho­tos

An on­line sur­vey sug­gests the av­er­age price of a house in Kent could be £515,719 by 2030; a min­i­mum spend on plas­tic could soon be a thing of the past

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