What hap­pened to boom town hopes?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

I’ve al­ways tried to talk up Ash­ford when oth­ers knock the place, es­pe­cially when I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced towns with far less his­tory such as Mil­ton Keynes, but re­ally, what is hap­pen­ing to our town?

Just look at the num­ber of con­sec­u­tive boarded up shops at the bot­tom of Bank Street.

There are blanked out win­dows and boards all over the town cen­tre now – the worst pos­si­ble ad­vert for vis­i­tors – a town cen­tre in de­cline.

At one end you are wel­comed by the Prince Al­bert, the Bri­tish Vol­un­teer and The Grill / Leaf Lounge (all shut) and at the other end you’ve got the ru­ins of Block­busters and Pizza Hut (a small sign prom­ises some­thing soon, but what?). Now add in the fact that BHS is likely to go and the pic­ture gets bleaker still.

Yet Ash­ford as a whole is not dy­ing – it’s grow­ing.

Un­like the slightly smaller set­tle­ments of Can­ter­bury and Tun­bridge Wells (which seem to have it all) our coun­cil have en­cour­aged the new shops and restau­rants to set up on the out­skirts in­stead of pro­mot­ing the cen­tre.

It started with the mar­ket and it con­tin­ues to this day. But will they ever take this on board? Or will they still tell us that the re­ces­sion is over with­out the slight­est shred of irony?

In the nineties we were promised a boom town with grandiose schemes like a chair-lift link­ing the out­let, sta­tion, town cen­tre and cinema. Park and ride was mooted, Park Farm was go­ing to have a rail halt and a rail­way mu­seum was first pos­tu­lated.

Will any of th­ese ever hap­pen or is Ash­ford for­ever go­ing to be the town that talks the talk but can’t walk the walk? Let’s see what’s left in an­other 20 years time. Adam Colton Ash­ford

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.