Things are on the up – honestly?
It’s always a delight to read the Council Talk column under the byline of Gerry Clarkson, leader of Ashford council. Why is it such a delight? Because it’s always upbeat. But then whatever we write and whoever we are, we can never totally exclude a subjective element.
Mr Clarkson takes great pleasure in telling us how well everything is going and, in his latest column, he reiterates statements made previously regarding the health of the town centre.
I think we should always beware of how people use statistics to prove their argument.
I repeat my previous contention that figures purporting to show that we have a thriving high street can be utterly misleading.
Last week Mr Clarkson quoted the figure for vacancies as a little over half a percentage point better than the national average.
As a councillor said to me last week “if you want to buy a house, a haircut, a tattoo or a telephone, our high street is the perfect place to be”.
The much-vaunted Portas Pilot Scheme (remember?) was going to transform the town.
I will say that there has been one good thing that came out of the scheme, which is the Made in Ashford shop in Park Mall.
Mr Clarkson delivers the good news that, though the government insists that there must be provision made for private sector housing growth, “...we endeavour to exercise control of development numbers and siting”.
So what about Chilmington Green, we ask?
And there are a further 190 affordable homes to be built. Have you ever consulted the internet to find out what ‘affordable’ actually means in this context?
My advice is, don’t – it will give you a headache and leave you none the wiser.
Mr Clarkson goes on to say that “...within its sheltered housing schemes, Farrow Court is... truly dementia friendly”.
So we set out to find what, exactly, ‘dementia friendly’ means.
I found it depressing to read that the Dementia Service Development Centre says the term is so often used to cover ‘shallow or cosmetic change.’
Let’s hope this doesn’t apply here.