All in the name of progress?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

How is it pos­si­ble that Ash­ford has so many home­less peo­ple? How is it that we have a ‘tent vil­lage’ in the town and a recog­nised home­less com­mu­nity at the same time our coun­cil leader holds forth about his cor­po­rate plan be­ing ‘on track for wealth’?

He tells us that his four ar­eas of ac­tiv­ity are go­ing well. One of these is called ‘En­ter­pris­ing Ash­ford’. I take it this is the project that has un­housed some worth­while char­ity and com­mu­nity en­ter­prises to make way for the busi­nesses the coun­cil hopes to at­tract.

He men­tions ‘Liv­ing Ash­ford’; this pre­sum­ably in­cludes the Chilm­ing­ton hous­ing es­tate which will do noth­ing to im­prove the lives of Ash­ford res­i­dents, while caus­ing mon­u­men­tal prob­lems for lo­cal roads and, most im­por­tantly, our Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal.

The area of ‘progress’ which caused me much wry amuse­ment is called ‘Ac­tive and Cre­ative Ash­ford’. Of this I have seen no ev­i­dence at all. What we have seen is the clo­sure of ameni­ties which gave help to our less for­tu­nate.

Flow­ers are lovely. Our town cen­tre is burst­ing with flower growth which, I take it is the spear­head of the ‘Attractive Ash­ford’ scheme. The town cen­tre al­ways looks its best at this time of year. It’s a shame that many of our most attractive build­ings have been grabbed by es­tate agents where they do all they can to keep the prices of houses out of the reach of the less wealthy lo­cals while mak­ing them attractive to im­mi­grants from Lon­don. This, of course is no fault of our coun­cil.

The ‘Re­mem­ber When’ col­umn in last week’s KE pays trib­ute to the num­ber of town pubs that have closed over the years. Steve Sal­ter at­tributes this to some­thing called ‘progress’, which must mean the in­tro­duc­tion of the ban on smok­ing in public places and the sup­plies of cheap al­co­hol avail­able from stores.

Last Satur­day the town cen­tre was taken over by a re­li­gious group. There were some fine paint­ings which I took to rep­re­sent the sta­tions of the cross and some fine singing from the band­stand.

There was a preacher hold­ing forth in a for­eign tongue. I was sad­dened to hear a lo­cal woman say “what’s Ash­ford com­ing to? I can’t un­der­stand a word he’s say­ing”.

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