Today’s Kentish Express contains another pearl of wisdom from Ashford council leader Paul Clokie, this time on the suggestion by leading architect Sir Terry Farrell that John Prescott’s plans to concrete over the south east ought to be abandoned for development in the Thames Gateway closer to London. Given the widespread opposition to massive development in the Ashford area, anyone unfamiliar with the unusual Cllr Clokie might have expected the man, as a public representative, at least to have given the idea a hearing.
But no. Sir Terry, a world famous architect, is just ‘silly’ says the chap who has lorded over the Discovery Centre (failed), the Stour Centre redevelopment (late and grossly over budget), and the stumbling Wye Park Concordat.
His reasoning, if you can call it that?
Ashford ‘deserves a piece of the pie’, says Cllr Clokie, though quite what pie he means is unclear from his following remarks.
It (Farrell’s comments) is a silly comment to make. If they are all going to be built in London, where does London stop? Why should London have all the jobs when we need them down here? If the houses do not come to Ashford it is because we can’t get the money for the infrastructure, it won’t be down to some architect in the middle of London.
We do need more money up-front to make the thing work, but it isn’t to do with the Government turning all its money to London, it is to do with the Olympics having cut across the funds which were going to go out to the growth areas.
He doesn’t sound terribly optimistic, does he? But let’s answer one of the chap’s questions. Why should London (actually the Thames Gateway, in other words Swale) get all the jobs? Possibly because they have more unemployment up there. As Ashford Council’s own internal reports boast, unemployment in the borough is among the lowest in Kent and has fallen by ten per cent in the last twelve months.