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10 February 2013

Ashford derailed but Tenterden in the top ten

The train now approaching Ashford … where? Never heard of it! … That’s Ashford in Kent by the way

Hot off the heels of Tenterden (my local town) appearing in a Sunday Times article two weeks ago : “the best High Streets” in the country, there is now an article in the Sunday Times this week “On the right lines” … “longing to escape London? [Sunday Times] Lucy Denyer picks the towns and villages that offer the best value and easy access to the capital”

Unbelievably Ashford, 10 miles from Tenterden, the town that Tenterden comes under on the the Borough Council stakes, does not appear on the Sunday Times list of easy commutes despite the fact that the High Speed line from Ashford International to London St Pancras takes only 38 minutes. Who the dickens is in charge of publicity and promoting High Speed 1 at Ashford Borough Council? Anyone? What has gone wrong? Don’t the local council want to attract people and businesses to Ashford? I would have thought it was an excellent "benefit" that they would want to promote on their website. So why don’t they promote it … someone else’s job … never thought of it … words fail me! So how can Tenterden get on a Sunday Times list but Ashford can’t.

Having a few hours spare this morning I decided to research how many times High Speed 1 was mentioned on Ashford Borough Council’s website.

Unbelievably in www.ashford.gov.uk the only search for “high speed” that I could find brings up this webpage www.ashford.gov.uk/economic-development probably because there is a photo of high speed 1, no content or mention though! And the business portal businessnews.ashford.gov.ukfinds nothing for “high speed” or “hs1”

If volunteers in Tenterden can achieve amazingly high positions in Google for particular search terms then why can’t officers at Ashford Borough Council who are paid by “us”. Why aren’t Ashford BC shouting from the rooftops about High Speed 1? They have an amazing resource on their doorstep … an amazing way of getting to London quickly and they don’t mention it on their website … or not that I or Google can find!

Sometimes I feel … am I the only person who cares?

In 2011 and 2012 I fought with Ashford Borough Council (ABC) for months and months to get any links from their old website to the Tenterden website and in the end had to ask Paul Clokie (our Ashford Borough Councillor) to intervene when I got nowhere in the maze at ABC. I despaired, the only link on the old ABC website to Tenterden went to “page not found” despite several emails from me spanning about 10 months. I told ABC about this time and time again but no-one at ABC cared enough to fix it. With Paul’s help though we achieved some links to Tenterden because he knew some of computer team and could by-pass the maze which I couldn’t do via the official route.

When Ashford Borough Council’s new website (same domain name www.ashford.gov.uk) came on-stream in December last year unbelievably the “Visit Ashford and Tenterden” webpage www.ashford.gov.uk/visit-ashford-and-tenterden didn’t even have a link to Tenterden until I jumped up and down and had a hissy fit last week. Promote the historic town of Tenterden? No way! Words fail me. No wonder they can’t sort any links out to “high speed one”.

What a lost marketing opportunity. ABC should employ me as a consultant! I would have thought that the Ashford Portas Pilot Town Team (and yes Ashford is a Portas Pilot) would have picked up the lack of promotion of HS1 by now. However perhaps this is not surprising since if you search for "Ashford Kent Town Team" in Google it produces nothing. It’s almost as if they don’t exist. Do they have any business sense at all? Doesn’t look like it

Here is the Sunday Times article "On the Right Lines"

Download as PDF: Sunday Times : On the Right Lines

Sunday Times on the right lines - Ashford and High Speed 1
Sunday Times on the right lines - Ashford and High Speed 1
Sunday Times on the right lines - Ashford and High Speed 1

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