Shout­ing from both sides and con­fu­sion all round

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

Io­rig­i­nally thought I’d leave the ref­er­en­dum with­out com­ment this week but I find it’s im­pos­si­ble to do so. Ev­ery­body seems to want to know what ev­ery­one else thinks about it. The stan­dard cliche is that ‘It’s all over bar the shout­ing’. In this case, it has been quite clear that the shout­ing went on first – and what a lot of shout­ing there was. There was so much of it from both sides that the re­sult for many was to­tal con­fu­sion. I was speak­ing to a se­nior school teacher at the week­end. She told me that many of her younger col­leagues had been so con­fused by the claims, coun­ter­claims, prom­ises and threats is­su­ing from spokesper­sons on both sides of the ar­gu­ment that they had de­cided not to vote. What an ap­palling sit­u­a­tion! We like to think that our teach­ers are among the more in­tel­li­gent mem­bers of the com­mu­nity. It’s pretty sad then, isn’t it, that some of them were among the 23 per­cent – al­most a quar­ter – of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion who didn’t vote. I see that Ash­ford has joined the Busi­ness in the Com­mu­nity’s Healthy High Street Pro­gramme. No one would dis­agree with the idea that our High Street is in need of help and the scheme has ap­par­ently driven some other towns to make con­sid­er­able progress. I sin­cerely hope that Ash­ford will ben­e­fit – our town cen­tre has been in de­cline for years. Let’s hope that the de­cline has reached its nadir and that bet­ter things are to come. Sadly, I can’t to­tally si­lence the cyn­i­cal voice in my ear that says the Por­tas Pi­lot Scheme was sup­posed to be the magic bul­let which would trans­form our town cen­tre into, if not quite a gar­den of earthly de­light, then at least a dy­namic and thriv­ing cen­tre of com­merce. There was talk of an emerg­ing ‘cafe cul­ture’ (I don’t think any­one was quite sure what ex­actly that would turn out to be) but I’m sure it sug­gested rather more than a few ta­bles and chairs out­side eater­ies in pedes­tri­anised ar­eas of the town cen­tre. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the Stag cof­fee shop in the High Street and the new tea shop open­ing in Park Mall will get on. I was sad to see that the lit­tle one which opened in Bank Street op­po­site Deben­hams had such a short life.

‘Let’s hope that the de­cline has reached its nadir and that bet­ter things are to come’

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