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Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

Editor Robert Barman 01233 623232 rbar­man@thek­m­group.co.uk News editor Alas­tair Irvine 01233 623232 airvine@the km­group.co.uk Sport ex­presss­port@thek­m­group.co.uk Text: Text EX­PRESS fol­lowed by your mes­sage to 87474. Please in­clude your name and post­code. Mes­sages must not be more than 160 char­ac­ters and will be charged only at your stan­dard net­work rate. Please visit ken­ton­line.co.uk/terms for tex­ting terms. Ad­ver­tis­ing: Tracy Gray, Com­mer­cial Sup­port As­sis­tant, 01634 227817 Fam­ily an­nounce­ments: Call 01622 717744 and press Op­tion 1 Com­mer­cial: For all in­quiries email talk­tome@thek­m­group.co.uk News­pa­per sales (in­clud­ing de­liv­ery, dis­tri­bu­tion, com­pe­ti­tions, reader of­fers and sub­scrip­tions): Of­fice hours, an­swer­phone there­after: 0800 525450 Head of­fice: Med­way House, Gins­bury Close, Thomas Lon­g­ley Road, Med­way, City Es­tate, Strood, Rochester ME2 4DU. Tel 01622 717880, Fax 01622 710937. Com­plaints: Any com­plaint about any as­pect of this news­pa­per should be made to the editor, Robert Barman, 01233 623232 rbar­man@thek­m­group.co.uk Cus­tomer Ser­vices (for ad­ver­tis­ing queries): email cus­tom­erser­vices@ thek­m­group.co.uk 0800 0855810

Last week saw an­other sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for yet an­other ma­jor pro­ject in Ash­ford. I was pleased to be in­vited by de­vel­op­ers Quinn Es­tates and Ge­orge Wil­son De­vel­op­ments to take part in a spe­cial cer­e­mony to mark the top­ping out of the Com­mer­cial Quar­ter, our new busi­ness hub op­po­site Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Sta­tion.

Work on the pro­ject be­gan in Jan­uary, and it will cre­ate 80,500 sq ft of space in the first phase alone and around 600 jobs. I’m told it is on course for com­ple­tion in Jan­uary 2018 and with 75% of space al­ready let. Its prime cen­tral lo­ca­tion in Dover Place has made this pres­ti­gious site one of the most sought-after busi­ness lo­ca­tions in the county.

As­pire Land­scape Man­age­ment, Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil’s in-house grounds main­te­nance ser­vice, is now one year old. At the start of Oc­to­ber 2016 the coun­cil brought the re­spon­si­bil­ity for grounds main­te­nance across the bor­ough back in-house.

One year on, the re­ac­tion from res­i­dents has been pos­i­tive, with the pub­lic see­ing the dif­fer­ence As­pire is mak­ing to the bor­ough.

The ser­vice cov­ers the day-to-day work of mow­ing, prun­ing, plant­ing, clear­ing and lit­ter pick­ing on var­i­ous spa­ces owned by the coun­cil. We are pleased with the im­pact As­pire has made.

The coun­cil and the Ash­ford Leisure Trust trus­tees have signed a new part­ner­ship agree­ment that will rein­vig­o­rate the way leisure is pro­vided in the bor­ough. This paves the way for us to work to­gether to se­cure ma­jor in­vest­ment in the fa­cil­i­ties, and to en­sure that we can pro­vide the best and widest pos­si­ble range of leisure op­por­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents.

Both or­gan­i­sa­tions have agreed to work to­gether to ap­point a new leisure op­er­a­tor for the ma­jor leisure fa­cil­i­ties op­er­ated by the two or­gan­i­sa­tion, such as the Stour Cen­tre, Julie Rose Sta­dium, the Con­ning­brook Lakes and other leisure sites owned by Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil. This should re­sult in en­hanced leisure op­por­tu­ni­ties and fa­cil­i­ties for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

The pro­cure­ment process to ap­point a leisure op­er­a­tor is ex­pected to take around 18 months. Dur­ing this pe­riod it is very much busi­ness as usual at the town’s leisure sites, with no im­pact on ser­vices or cus­tomers.

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