Let’s just take a breath ……

After a period of rapid development, thousands of new homes, town centre re-development and a new motorway junction, it is now time to make Ashford a great place to live, work and play.

Ashford has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years, but in many respects the quality of life of those who live here has suffered. It is now time for the residents of Ashford to reap their just reward.

Those elected to public office on the 2nd May have a duty to the electorate (us the long suffering residents). It is time for us to be heard and our wishes to be acted upon.

Of course we need enough housing to satisfy demand, we are told that we needed J10a to unlock land for development in Sevington, and supposedly reduce congestion at J10. Long standing eyesores such as Victoria Way are being transformed and Elwick Place has brought new life to the old market site, even though the restaurants are proving impossible to let.

Sure there is community investment such as at Victoria Park which is about to undergo a significant remodelling, Revelation at St Mary’s has been a great success as has the long established Create Festival. The council has also recognised the need to improve the lower high street area of the town and plans are underway for this along with a further entertainment venue at Dover Place.

But the traffic is worse than ever and trains are rammed and then the town centre is still not a must go destination for most Ashford people.

So what does Total Ashford think the new council should make their priorities?

  1. Improve the transport system before any more major developments are permitted. Provide a high frequency express bus service between major developments to the railway station and hospital to reduce commuter car journeys. Provide priority lanes for buses wherever possible.
  2. Work with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to ensure sufficient and appropriate for the community needs and resist any move to reduce the facilities at the William Harvey Hospital.
  3. Do not allow any further major development that will create further pressure on school places. Ashford’s roads are significantly quieter during school holidays, because parents are having to drive their children across town and to outlying villages.
  4. Lobby Eurostar to give Ashford the proper service it deserves, and stop the ridiculous need to travel to Ebbsfleet or St Pancras to catch a train back through Ashford to the continent.
  5. Complete the shared space from New Street to Somerset Road as per the original plan and use soft landscaping to create an appealing entrance to the town.
  6. Generally make the transport system around Ashford, cycle and pedestrian friendly.
  7. Continue to support town centre businesses and encourage initiatives to generate more activity within the town centre such as legs of national sporting tour events, annual food or music festivals etc. Encourage enthusiast meets at weekends such as custom/vintage car meets, specialist fairs such as garden and proper Christmas fairs, Build on success of events such as Children In Need Rickshaw Challenge when thousands of people visited the town centre.
  8. Change the focus of the town centre from retail to entertainment. Encourage more, bars, eateries and al fresco seating. Market the town centre as a destination.
  9. Work with local employers and education establishments to develop high quality vocational training opportunities, particularly in subjects such as engineering and IT to create a high quality local skill pool, increased earning potential and thereby retain more young people in the area – the lifeblood of any town.
  10. Don’t just listen to resident’s views but act on them.

I am sure that you have many other great ideas so post your comments and lets make Ashford a really great place to live.

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