Central Ashford Community Forum
Minutes of Trustees’ Meeting held at 38 Albert Road, Ashford
on Wednesday 31st January 2018
Present: Christine Green (Acting Chair), Emily Neighbour (Secretary), Malcolm Finch (Treasurer), Betsy Heitman and Popiraj Rai
Apologies: Catherine Godard, Kate Harris, Jo Jowers, Jean Roue, Sylvia Fairley, Paul Fortnam, Jim Davies, Siri Limbu
Approval of Minutes of meeting held on 4th December 2017
Unfortunately there were insufficient Trustees for a Quorum, six is required, so these could not be approved.
Policing of the Ashford area
There had been several e mails from the Police and ABC encouraging member of the public to report all crimes as the more crime in an area the greater funding the Police would receive for that area. It was now possible to report non-urgent crimes online. Betsy reported that their area had been having problems with youths hanging around the derelict houses on Chart Road. They had been moved on by the Police but were now using the play area on the Kings Avenue estate, accessed via the new footpath, which was upsetting some of the residents.
Popiraj Rai reported that a further meeting had been held with the Police and the Nepali community. He explained that many members of his community were now reluctant to report burglaries which were still ongoing in the area. The reason for this was that several households had had bad experiences of waiting for the forensic teams to arrive for hours and not being allowed into their properties. As the stolen property was never returned and no culprits had been arrested they did not think it was worthwhile, particularly if they did not have insurance. Word had spread which put off subsequent victims from reporting their burglaries. Liaison with the Police had improved but the language barrier remained a big problem for many. He hoped to encourage younger members of the community who were bilingual to get involved. The setting up of a Neighbourhood Watch group had so far come to nothing.
The position of the additional interpretation panel for Queen Mother’s Park had been approved by ABC, at the entrance from Heathfield Road. The additional costs for the installation were not yet known. It was suggested that Councillor Galpin could be asked for a grant from his members fund to top up the CACF funds which would be left very low once the costs of installation were included.
17/01878/AS Full Planning Permission 25 Magazine Road, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8NJ
Partial change of use of part of the property from residential (C3) to funeral directors (A1) including parking provision and widening of existing access.
Councillor Galpin had asked for the views of the Trustees on this application. He had indicated that he would ask for it to be considered by the planning committee if officers were minded to approve it. Jean Roue lives close by and reported that many of his neighbours were against the proposal. His reasons were: It is a very residential area and due to the nature of the business it does not fit in this environment. Also I will be concerned for the neighbour’s property values, not sure someone buying a house chooses to live next door to a funeral home. This could set a precedent for other properties on Magazine road to also apply for change of use. I will also be concerned about traffic coming in and out of this business as Magazine road is a very busy road.
Sylvia Fairley’s comments were: I have looked at their plans and I can’t see how it will work. They are converting the garage into a cold store, but there appears to be no direct access from the garage to the Chapel which means every time a body is viewed, it will have to be moved in and out of the front doors of the garage through the open. There does not appear to be enough space down the side of the house to get to the back where the office and Chapel is, so it will have to go through the front door and through the house.
I am assuming the applicants have worked in the funeral business before, but this does not seem a very professional way o f offering much dignity to the deceased person.
Popiraj Rai said his brother lives very close by and is very unhappy with the prospect of living near a funeral home.
The Secretary said that she is concerned that the road access is difficult as it is on the inside of a slight bend making visibility poor. There is also the additional hazard of vehicles exiting Albert Road unexpectedly having travelled the wrong way up the one way section illegally, a frequent occurrence, often carried out at high speed. Large vehicles such as hearses and occasionally horse drawn carriages would have great difficulty turning into Magazine Road on a section with poor visibility where cars are often travelling quite fast.
After discussion it was agreed to circulate a proposed draft response to all Trustees for comments before sending it to ABC.
The Secretary would contact Justin to ask when the Hall would be opening for business.
Town Centre Masterplan meeting with ABC
Councillor Galpin had invited Trustees to attend a meeting on 12th February from 7 pm in Committee Room 2 to discuss the new Ashford Town Centre Area Action Plan, to replace the one finalised in 2010 which was now out of date. It was hoped as many Trustees would attend as possible. The Borough Councillors had all been invited as well. The planning officers had already started the process but it was only at a very early stage.
The following issues would be raised, the Secretary had already sent the original list she had circulated by e mail to Trustees to Councillor Galpin, some of which had already been overtaken by events – the pedestrian crossing at the Station was finally under construction and the Police Station would be refurbished rather than demolished.
Play Area in town, use of existing parks and green areas within ring road;
Maximising value of river corridor through town, raising standards of litter control, lighting under bridges and graffiti, murals;
Parking: residents/ shoppers, workers, commuters, future of car parks, new and existing;
It was agreed that no one liked multi-storey car parks which is what ABC want to rely on.
Station: car parks, remodelling plans, are there any?
Highways: Introduction of 20 mph limit in built up area;
Improving traffic flow in centre and pedestrian crossing safety; countdown traffic lights;
Control of bicycles in town centre;
Maintenance of listed buildings, protection and enhancement of Conservation Area;
Control of chuggers;
Hazardous paving in town centre.
Interpretation Panels / town trail.
Bring back Drunk Tanks in Ashford to take pressure off A&E and Policing.
Date and venue of future meeting: this was not agreed, the Secretary would circulate possible dates in due course.
Meeting closed 8.40 pm