Visitors staying away from the town centre
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’