Community Council Campaign – Close-out letter

The following letter has been sent to all residents in the unparished area of South Ashford:

 

Dear Resident

Early in December of last year, Ashford Borough Council completed a review of how local communities in Ashford are represented and governed. If you are a registered voter living in South Ashford you would have had the opportunity to vote in the ballot on whether or not you wanted a Community Council for South Ashford. Voters in the other unparished areas of Ashford also voted on whether they wanted a Community Council in their areas. In South Ashford, of 9,220 voters, 906 voted for a Community Council and 1,492 voted against. Although the Council stated that the results of the ballot were non-binding they have decided not to create a Community Council for South Ashford.

For sixteen years South Ashford Community Forum has been representing the views of people living and working in the unparished area of South Ashford and helping to communicate those views to Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and other statutory organisations. Following the decision of the Council we will continue to provide that representation and will be redoubling our efforts to ensure that we are representative of as many of those who live and work in South Ashford as possible. To do this we need to hear your views and invite you to our next meeting.

 

Please join us

at 7:00 pm
on Wednesday 9th March
at South Ashford Baptist Church
Brookfield Road TN23 4EY
All who live or work in the unparished area of South Ashford are welcome

Keeping you informed

Over the last year we have been looking at ways to communicate with you more effectively. We have no income and are therefore restricted in what we can achieve. We have created an online presence through a website and social media. We use these to notify you of news, not only of the Community Forum but of any relevant items from Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and community organisations and of activities in South Ashford and the surrounding area. We welcome contributions from individuals and organisations in South Ashford.

Please do visit us through our social media channels.

We are aware that not everybody has internet access so we have produced two editions of our news-sheet ‘South Ashford’. Again we would like to include items of interest from other organisations in South Ashford and will run this in tandem with the website. We are however not sure that we can continue this as we have been unable to generate the advertising revenue necessary to fund it. If you are aware of local companies that would be interested in advertising please contact us.

Copies of ‘South Ashford’ can be downloaded from Community Forum/ Publications page on the ‘South Ashford’ website.

Musicians at Mr Harpers BirthdayVictoria Park

Last year we responded to comments about Victoria Park in the Kentish Express. As a result of this I met with one of our local councillors and Chris Dixon of Ashford Borough Council. He has now been allocated responsibility for producing a Management Plan for Victoria Park, which he explained at our September 2015 Meeting. This will bring much needed improvements to Victoria Park and he is keen to hear the views of local people on what should be done.

South Ashford Community Forum is one of a number of organisations forming a steering group to make a bid for funding to raise awareness of the heritage of the Park and improve the heritage assets, in particular the Hubert Fountain. As part of this we will be involved in plans for an improved Mr. Harper’s Birthday celebration, which this year falls on the Saturday, 23rd July, immediately before the now established Create Music Festival.

Since preparing the letter Ashford Borough Council have announced that the Create Music Festival will be held on Saturday this year. This will preclude a Mr. Harper’s Birthday celebration.

Ashford Borough Council is ending the current landscape services contract and will take this in house, this will permit more flexibility in the maintenance of the park and we are hoping there will be opportunities for the local community to become involved.

We will continue to be involved in and to inform you of the developing plans for the park.

Development

While there has not been a great deal of development in the area we serve and its immediate surrounds for a number of years; that is changing.

We have, in recent months, commented on the proposals for Elwick Place, in the Town Centre and Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre in Newtown.

In November, Quinn Estates, the developer of the Powergen site attended our meeting. They have since submitted a planning application and we have sent comments on behalf of the residents of South Ashford.

Various highways schemes that are being proposed will have an impact on those who live and work in South Ashford. We have commented on the A28 Improvement Scheme and the Management of Freight Vehicles through Kent (Operation Stack lorry park) .

J10A PlanAt our March Meeting we will be discussing the M20 Junction 10A proposals and will submit comments, incorporating, as far as is possible, the views of those who attend.

Looking forward, we are expecting the delayed draft of the new Local Plan to 2030 to be published for consultation in April and will be discussing it at our May and July meetings in preparation for submitting our comments.

Plans for a supermarket, a brewery and visitor centre, a hotel and residential development in Victoria Road are expected to be published soon.

In September 2017, Ashford College will vacate their campus in Jemmett Road, also unlocking access to the South School site, enabling redevelopment of both sites. We are expecting plans to come forward for both in the next year.

Whilst there are limits as to the Councils powers to prevent conversion of houses to Houses in Multiple Occupation, we are aware of the problems these can cause and will object where it is sensible to do so.

We will continue to monitor development in and around South Ashford to ensure that the needs of the people of South Ashford are considered.

Electoral Review

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has just started an Electoral Review for the Borough of Ashford. This will consider the number of Councillors on Ashford Borough Council and the boundaries of the wards they serve. It is the first review for 15 years and could make substantial changes to the areas that your Councillors represent. We would like to ensure that the wards are formed in a manner that is much more representative of the communities served han the current wards. We would like to hear your views on this.

Consumer Issues

Over the last year we have tried to raise awareness of issues that affect you as a consumer.

We supported scam awareness month last year and continue to notify the people of South Ashford of scam and rogue trader alerts from the Kent Trading Standards, Action Fraud and other organisations.

In October last year, a new law came into effect that simplifies consumer protection, makes it more effective and extends it to cover digital media. We supported the Citizens Advice campaign to raise awareness of the new legislation during National Consumer Week last November.

In January, Stephanie Karpetas and Danny Lenain, of Sustainability Connections, attended our meeting and spoke about the savings that could be made by switching energy provider and the work they are doing to help the vulnerable to switch and reduce energy consumption. We are hoping that there will be some pop-up advice sessions bringing this opportunity to the people of South Ashford. We covered energy saving and switching in the December edition of South Ashford, which can be downloaded from the ‘South Ashford’ website.

Get involved

If you want to have your views heard on any of the subjects raised in this letter, or have other issues that you would like to raise with the Councils and other statutory organisations:

  • Attend our meetings—
    details of the next meeting are given in the panel at the foot of Page 1
  • Comment on our website and social media posts—addresses are given below
  • Contact us using the form on our website or the contact details given below.
  • Sign up for our e-mail distribution by going to our sign up form at http://bit.ly/sacfsignup

With kindest regards

Bob Shrubb

Chair

 

South Ashford Community Forum is an open forum set up to represent the views of people living and working in the unparished area of South Ashford and to help communicate those views to Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and other statutory organisations. It is an independent voluntary group with its own

Website: southashford.org.uk

A pdf copy of the letter can be downloaded from the ‘Publications’ page

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