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This sum­mer prom­ises to be one of par­tic­u­lar ex­cite­ment in Ash­ford. Cre­ate Fes­ti­val 2017 will see the launch of Cre­ate Plat­form, a week-long pro­gramme lead­ing up to the big day. With its nod to Ash­ford’s rich rail­way her­itage, Cre­ate Plat­form will see a wide range of unique spin-off events from July 14 to 23, and will help to build ex­cite­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion ahead of the fes­ti­val.

Cre­ate Plat­form prom­ises uniquely themed ex­hi­bi­tions, con­certs and street en­ter­tain­ment across the borough. I am sure the event will truly high­light both the in­ter­est­ing places and spa­ces we have, as well as the won­der­ful work that the council are con­duct­ing to pro­vide a first-class cul­tural in­dus­try. De­tails of all of Cre­ate Plat­form’s events can be found at www.cre­ate­fes­ti­val.co.uk and I hope res­i­dents en­joy some of the ac­tiv­i­ties.

Last Sun­day Ash­ford Farm­ers’ Mar­ket cel­e­brated its third birth­day. Visi­tors en­joyed brows­ing all the home­made de­lights and lis­ten­ing to the live mu­sic.

The Ash­ford Farm­ers’ Mar­ket is part of the council’s drive to in­crease foot­fall in the town cen­tre, par­tic­u­larly on Sun­days, and to sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses. The mar­ket has proven pop­u­lar. It takes place on the first Sun­day of the month be­tween 10am and 2pm on the lower High Street.

Last week we heard that the Jas­min Vardi­mon Com­pany were among a num­ber of arts or­gan­i­sa­tions and projects to have re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from Arts Council Eng­land. The com­pany, a lead­ing force in Bri­tish dance theatre for nearly 20 years, hopes to es­tab­lish a pur­pose-built cen­tre of ex­cel­lence here in the borough. It will in­clude re­hearsal and pre­sen­ta­tion spa­ces, ded­i­cated train­ing spa­ces and well­be­ing suite at the Hen­wood In­dus­trial Es­tate, and would en­able the com­pany to pro­duce a large-scale tour­ing show ev­ery two years and ex­pand its num­ber of stu­dents.

This is good news for yet an­other one of our Big 8 projects and we look for­ward to see­ing Kent County Council, who are lead­ing the project, work­ing closely with Jas­min Vardi­mon to take this for­ward.

With the Col­lege open­ing this Septem­ber, work on the Com­mer­cial Quar­ter, El­wick Place pro­gress­ing, fund­ing se­cured for the new Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional sig­nalling project, Junc­tion10a and now Jas­min Vardi­mon, it is good to see ma­jor projects com­ing to fruition.

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