Our Man - A glimpse of 2019

Now we have the Christmas decorations firmly packed away for another year, and the New Year Resolutions already looking unrealistic, it is time to look ahead to 2019 and what it holds.

Parliament is back, and therefore the dreaded B-word is in the forefront of minds at Westminster again. But I suspect I (and you) will have enough of that debate in other forums, so here I want to peer into the future for Ashford over the next 12 months.

We already know that some big schemes will come to fruition, because we can see them coming out of the ground already. Following the successful launch of the Picture House, the next big change in the town centre will be the opening of the Curious Brewery in the Spring.

This is yet another very welcome project which will increase footfall in and around the centre, giving people a reason to come into the town, and therefore helping all the shops and businesses that rely on passing trade. We all know how difficult it is to keep high streets thriving with the prevalence of online shopping, so this type of destination is vital.

We will also no doubt see the continuation of the debate about how and where it would be best to offer the possibility of live theatre in Ashford. I can see why people are attached to the idea of the old cinema building, but the truth is that modern theatres need 21st century facilities to be successful, so a new space may well be more practical.

The key cheering fact is that we are discussing how best to enhance the town, instead of debating how to cope with “inevitable” decline. In the dreary days of January, this is a good consolation to have.