Vis­i­tors stay­ing away from the town cen­tre

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

It was good to see the town cen­tre com­ing to life last Satur­day; mu­sic on the band­stand be­ing en­joyed by peo­ple re­lax­ing in the space fur­nished with chairs and ta­bles, it was a re­minder of the way Ash­ford used to be and could still have been if only we had a coun­cil which cared for the town rather than the money that could be made by build­ing all over our green­field sites.

The root of Ash­ford’s prob­lems lie, as I have said be­fore, in the past, when ur­ban and ru­ral district coun­cils were amal­ga­mated.

The Bor­ough of Ash­ford cov­ers 224.2 square miles – mainly all fields.

I have been un­able to as­cer­tain the area of Ash­ford it­self but it is prob­a­bly less than 10 square miles even if we in­clude Ken­ning­ton, Willes­bor­ough and Park Farm.

This al­lows for the town’s spin mer­chants to make true but at the same time mis­lead­ing claims about low rates of crime and gen­eral sat­is­fac­tion with the way things are.

I very much doubt that gangs of yobs ram­page through Stone cum Ebony; the fact that they don’t can be used to sup­port the as­ser­tion that Ash­ford bor­ough is vir­tu­ally crime-free and will al­low res­i­dents of the area to as­sert that they are happy with the way things are run.

Ask some­one from Chil­ham if he con­sid­ers him­self to be an Ash­for­dian. The an­swer will al­most cer­tainly be a re­lieved and def­i­nite ‘No’, even though he is in­cluded in the bor­ough.

The sad fact is that our town has for many years been se­ri­ously mis­man­aged and has, as a con­se­quence, been blighted with a bad rep­u­ta­tion.

When I first came to Ash­ford in 1987, friends from Wit­ter­sham told me ‘Ash­ford is the place peo­ple go round to get to some­where else’. Sadly, this is still very much the case. Con­sid­er­able num­bers of peo­ple may come to visit the Out­let Cen­tre, al­most none then visit the town proper.

There are some peo­ple who mis­tak­enly de­scribe me as a ‘doom-mer­chant’. I pre­fer the term ‘re­al­ist’, one who recog­nises that the town is down but not out.

We can take plea­sure in the small but not in­con­sid­er­able con­tri­bu­tions be­ing made by a few in­de­pen­dent en­trepreneurs.

All who want the town to thrive should endeavour to give them sup­port.

‘The sad fact is that our town has for many years been se­ri­ously mis­man­aged’

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