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  • Time for change?

    Admin posted an update 1 week, 4 days ago

    Sometimes in life and in business, when things do not work you have to move on. Perhaps that time has come for Ashford’s Lower High Street Markets.

    From the time that Ashford Market (the proper one that attracted thousands) left the Cattle Market site, Ashford Council have tried unsuccessfully to bring life to the lower high street with a market.

    No doubt when the idea was first conceived it seemed like a perfect way to bring life to the dead end of town and to maintain the traditions of the market town with a market.

    What we have now is a handful of stalls each week and once a month a ‘farmers market’ that attracts a pitiful number of customers. The stallholders at this weekend’s ‘farmers market’ should be applauded because they have gone to a lot of effort to prepare their wares, travel to Ashford then stand in the cold and rain all for a few pounds no doubt. While a few hundred yards away in Elwick Place, we have a multi-million pound cinema and leisure complex being built that will undoubtedly draw people in by their thousands and relieve us of our money with relative ease.

    Having walked around the dozen or so stalls, bought some preserves and chatted to a few of the traders this morning, we walked around the town which was pleasantly buzzing, we came away with bags full and probably spent as much in independent shops as nationals. In fact it seemed as busy on a Sunday morning as it used to be on a Saturday not so long ago. So congratulations to the town centre traders, town centre partnership and the council. Ashford town centre is doing a lot better than some.

    Many towns have indoor or covered markets which are very successful. Perhaps an attractive steel structure in the lower high street that could be used for fairs, farmers markets, outdoor entertainment and al fresco dining could be the answer.

    But if it is not going to be done well then the question has to be asked, has the time come to shut up shop on the lower high street markets? Or have the decision makers got the nerve to invest in the Lower High Street and make it great?

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