This is my last column before Christmas, so I am going to be resolutely cheerful, as we could all do with some cheer at the end of a year which has been difficult in so many different ways.
As it happens, despite the continuing problems on the roads in and around the town, there have been a number of recent events which show the potential of the area. Each of them reveals that when we all pull together we can make a real difference.
The most important for the long term was the formal ceremony to start the construction process for the Newtown Works. For decades this has been a derelict site close to the centre, leaving a visual scar on the Ashford landscape.
Now it is being transformed into film and TV studios, an annex of Ashford College, hundreds and homes and a hotel. It will be a place where young people can learn the skills which will provide them with a career in one of the world’s growing industries.
It was equally uplifting to attend the opening ceremony for the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company’s new building, and to witness the performance of “Alice”. With Kent Music now in the next-door building, there is the basis of a creative quarter in the town, which I know has been an ambition for many people over a number of years.
Less permanent, but equally successful, was the second Carnival of the Baubles, which is well on the way to becoming a great tradition. I hear that 10,000 extra people were in the town centre for the Carnival than would be expected on a normal pre-Christmas Saturday, so many local traders would have benefitted.
It is always easy to moan, and there are genuine problems for many people. But at this time of year, and perhaps especially this year, we should be counting our blessings. Have a peaceful Christmas.