Dull but vital – make sure you vote
As election frenzy takes hold of the political classes, what about the rest of us? Mere mortals that we are, do we join in, or just let them get on with it? I have spoken to a number of people around the town and, as you might expect, I found a profound lack of interest in the whole business.
“Whatever we do, whomever we vote for, the result will be the same. The whole system is geared to make the rich richer and the poor poorer,” said one man. “So I’ll not vote. I’ll just let them get on with it. I’m really not interested in politics.”
This kind of defeatism, or apathy, call it what you will, is the thing that will inevitably make matters worse. It really is important that we all cast our votes, in both the general and local elections. But to other matters. I found myself in possession of the Tenterden edition of the KE last Thursday. To my surprise, what I have always thought of as a thriving little town with dozens of independent traders doing good business is now exactly the opposite. The front page has pictures of some 17 shops that have been forced out of business and now stand empty.
Tenterden councillors are blaming increasingly heavy parking charges, which have been imposed by Ashford council. Rate increases have put extra pressure on small businesses, but it seems that Tenterden Town Council has reduced the bill to residents.
One councillor, Sue Ferguson, said that they need “to draw on Ashford’s knowledge”. As far as this goes, I don’t think that many Ashford residents would see this as being of benefit to Tenterden, given the parlous state of our own town centre, replete as it is with hairdressers, estate agents, phone and charity shops.
Steve Salter, author of a number of nostalgia-inducing books about Ashford and columnist in the KE with his ‘Remember When’ page, seems to be hooked on the subject of extinct pubs.
Several people with whom I’ve discussed this go blearyeyed and sentimental – some even seemingly angry.
The simple fact is that pubs, like every other business, rely on customers buying their wares and, these days, there would be simply not enough customers to go round.