Minutes of 2019 Annual General Meeting

 Central Ashford Community Forum

Minutes of Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 27th March 2019

in St Mary’s Church, the Churchyard, Ashford Town Centre from 7.30pm



Trustees:   Christine Green (Acting Chair), Emily Neighbour (Secretary), Malcolm Finch (Treasurer), Catherine Godard, Jim Davies, Jo Jowers, Siri Limbu

Also present:  Mary Wiggins, Borough Councillor Graham Galpin, County Councillors Paul Bartlett and Dara Farrell, Bob Shrubb and Jean Shrubb (South Ashford Community Forum), Michelle Krawzcyk, Daniel S’Sylva and 13 members of the public

Apologies: Paul Fortnam, Popiraj Rai, Jean Roue, Kate Harris, Ian Rickards.


Acting Chairman’s welcome & opening remarks

Christine Green thanked everyone for coming. She explained that the planned presentation by Ian Rickards of the Kent Wildlife Trust about Ashford’s Wild Spaces would be postponed as he was stuck in traffic on the M20 because of various accidents in the area as Operation Brock was being tested.


Opening of Annual General Meeting

Minutes of the last AGM held on Wednesday 25th October 2017

These were approved without amendment.


Matters Arising

The new Community Centre Repton Connect was now fully open. It had been hoped to hold the AGM there but it was not available.


Secretary’s Report

Forum Activities since last AGM

The last AGM was held in October 2017. We were quite active initially and held three meetings in the following six months. We originally intended to hold an AGM last June but we were frustrated because it turned out the first England World Cup match against Tunisia was to be held on that date!  

Since then the Trustees have not met as a group though we have continued to consult each other via an email group. As Secretary I receive a great deal of information from various sources and I do my best to share with the Trustees if it is appropriate. I have also maintained the website.


Hitachi Funding

With the help of Diane Comley of the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership we were able to spend the grant of £1000 from the Hitachi works which are in our area. We used it to provide an interpretation panel in the Queen Mother’s Park, at the Heathfield Road entrance. As it went over budget we asked Councillor Galpin who provided an additional grant of £300 from his Member’s fund.


Meetings attended by Trustees representing CACF

Police and Gurkha Community Meeting

Following the last AGM we were able to help push for a meeting between the Police and Gurkha Community about the large number of break-ins in the area. It was very well-attended. I represented CACF as an observer.


Two Town Centre Masterplan meetings with ABC

Various Trustees represented CACF at these.



Trustees have continued to comment when appropriate on significant applications or plans in or adjacent to our area.

We were recently invited to support a Funding Bid by ABC for money from a Future High Streets Fund. We declined to do so as the main plan is to redevelop the Vicarage Lane Car park which we have always opposed.

This was disappointing as the town centre issues raised by our Trustees at the consultation events have been largely ignored. These were minuted at our meeting in January 2018 and are, for the record:


1 Play Area in town, use of existing parks and green areas within ring road;

  1. Maximising value of river corridor through town, raising standards of litter control, lighting under bridges and graffiti, murals;
  2. 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.
  3. Station: car parks, remodelling plans, are there any?
  4. Highways: Introduction of 20 mph limit in built up area;
  5. Improving traffic flow in centre and pedestrian crossing safety; countdown traffic lights;
  6. Control of bicycles in town centre;
  7. Maintenance of listed buildings, protection and enhancement of Conservation Area;
  8. Control of chuggers;
  9. Hazardous paving in town centre.
  10. Interpretation Panels / town trail.
  11. Bring back Drunk Tanks in Ashford to take pressure off A&E and Policing.

There had been some progress on these since the list was drawn up:

New crossing at Station: this had been lobbied for by CACF for over four years and had eventually been installed since the last AGM.

Town Trail: this was now available online and in town.

Route from Station to Factory Outlet: there were plans in the pipeline to improve this area funded by Macarthur Glen.


Trustees Update

Sylvia Fairley has resigned this year.

Emily Neighbour is not seeking re-nomination.



Trustees seeking re-nomination are:

Jim Davies, Jo Jowers, Paul Fortnam, Malcolm Finch, Christine Green, Catherine Godard, Jean Roue, Popiraj Rai, Kate Harris, Siri Limbu and Betsy Heitmann.

New Trustees:  three new Trustees have come forward recently who wish to get involved in representing the residents of the town centre.

These are Michelle Krawczyk, Daniel D’Sylva, both resident in Upper Queens Road since 2013, and Councillor Bartlett who is County Councillor for Ashford Central and Borough Councillor for Mersham.

We will ask them to introduce themselves before the vote on the Trustees is taken. Councillor Bartlett has been informed that the Constitution of the Forum prevents elected councillors from having voting rights within the Forum.


If all are elected there will be 14 Trustees and three vacancies. If anyone is interested in becoming a Trustee please speak to the Secretary after the meeting.


Treasurer’s Report & Presentation of Accounts

Malcolm Finch presented the report of the accounts since the last AGM.



Opening Balance                      1388.24

KCC Grant                               300.00

ABC Grant                                300.00


Sub Total                                                                      1988.24



Interpretation Panel QMP         1171.25


Sub Total                                                                      1171.25


Closing Total                                                                  816.99



Election of Trustees  

Jo Jowers presided over the election of Trustees in three groups.

Trustees seeking re-nomination:

Jim Davies, Jo Jowers, Paul Fortnam, Malcolm Finch, Christine Green, Catherine Godard, Jean Roue, Popiraj Rai, Kate Harris, Siri Limbu and Betsy Heitmann.

Elected en bloc on a show of hands

New Trustees:  Michelle Krawczyk, Daniel D’Sylva

Both elected on a show of hands.

Councillor Trustee with no voting rights: County Councillor Paul Bartlett

He was elected on a show of hands.




Chair: to be announced

Vice-Chair: to be announced

Secretary: to be announced

Treasurer: Malcolm Finch


Town Centre Update

Borough Councillor Graham Galpin gave a brief description of the current situation with regards to the various development projects in progress in the town. He responded to some of the various issues mentioned in the Secretary’s Report.

Play area: he agreed it would be good to provide one in town. He considered the Lower High Street to be a potential site.

Litter Picking: £22,000 funding has been awarded to ABC to “Clean up Ashford”. He offered to pass some of this to CACF to organise.

Hazardous paving in town centre: he reported this was to be replaced in the Lower High Street.

Future High Street Fund: he did not expect the bid to be successful as in national terms Ashford’s High Street was doing well. He defended the proposal to build on Vicarage Lane Car Park by saying it had been in the planning for over ten years and there is a need to build on brown field sites. The CPRE were very pleased that developments such as these went ahead rather than building on green fields.

Theatre Plans: ABC are actively looking for a good site for a new theatre. The Old Odeon building would be difficult to adapt, it was better to build a new venue from scratch.

He did not invite questions as he said he was in purdah owing to the imminent Borough Council elections.


Kent County Council News

As Ian Rickards was still delayed Councillor Bartlett offered to give an update on Kent County Council’s recent activities.

Brexit Plans: The government had given £28.8 million to KCC to provide space to park 12,500 lorries on the roads of Kent. This had been achieved, mainly by using the Manston Airport site, the M20 (between J8 and 9), the A20, the M26 and the A256. However, if all of these plans were implemented it could result in gridlock on the roads of Kent. Plans had been made for the recycling centre at Cobbs Wood to open outside of hours to allow waste to be collected at night. Improvement works were planned for the A20 between Ashford and Maidstone which was being damaged by the frequent use of the route by HGVs when the M20 was closed.

School Improvements

Highworth School had applied for government funding to replace some temporary classrooms. Norton Knatchbull were also seeking funding for a new Multi-Use Games Area.

Cycle Routes

Many improvements to cycle paths and routes around Kent are planned. They are subject to consultation if they result in reduction in parking places which they often do. If there were more than six objections the plans had to be considered at the Joint Transportation Board.

He invited questions.

HS1 Capacity: he understood that the award of the new franchise had been delayed. Improved capacity was a key requirement of the awarding of the franchise. Hitachi had indicated it could provide new units and four six car units would be required which would allow more carriages to be 12 car in peak times. The line between Ashford and St Pancras uses digital signalling which means it could carry four times as many trains safely. However, trains travelling beyond Ashford were not controlled digitally.

Asda roundabout signage: a complaint was made about this.


Chair’s closing remarks

Christine Green reported that Ian Rickards had only just got back to his home so it had been decided to cancel his presentation. She thanked everyone for attending and invited all to stay behind for a drink and networking.


Meeting Closed: 9.00 pm