Cllr Gerry Clarkson - Leader News

Trust the Tories

Ashford voters gave Conservatives an overwhelming mandate to rule the Borough Council at the 2011 election. Since that day the Tory administration has been absolutely determined to deliver jobs and economy growth, quality homes and places to live and great value for money.

Despite the challenges of Government economies to help get us back on track, which have resulted in cut backs in support for local councils, bold leadership is pressing the Borough forward in a positive way. Now that there is an easing of the recession the foundations laid during the depth of depression is starting to reap rewards. With slimmed down staff and all departments working to maximum capacity, Council Leader Gerry Clarkson and his expanded Cabinet, is driving the council forward with a passion admired by other leaders across the county.

In the past two years Ashford has successfully rolled out a new recycling service, built around 1,000 new homes, brought the John Lewis at Home store to Ashford, approved the transformation of the empty town centre Charter office block into apartments/ penthouses and is provided more youth activities, overhauled the council website, spent about £100,000 on community projects through members grants, and much, much more.

That progress is set to continue with a new Ashford Strategic Delivery Board, that has been agreed to support delivery of key projects central to future economic growth and prosperity of the area. The first Big Six projects will include large scale developments that will provide major opportunities for new jobs, housing, retail and cultural facilities, while supporting improvement in the heart of the town centre and the wider borough.

The Board brings together key private and public sector partners to deliver:

- A new Commercial Quarter near the International Station with almost 600,000 sq ft of office space, 150 homes and 4,000 jobs.

- Ashford International College Campus for post 16 education on the Elwick Road/Station Road site opposite the Commercial Quarter.

- A town centre cinema with places to eat and drink in a town centre meeting place at Elwick Place.

- Expansion of the Designer Outlet towards the station to make it an international draw and create stronger links with the town centre.

- A new motorway junction as it is recognised that M20 Junction 10 is at capacity and if the addition is not delivered it will stifle economic growth of the borough.

- Expansion of the internationally renowned Jasmin Vardimon Dance & Arts Academy.