Published: 10:39, 25 November 2021
| Updated: 17:00, 25 November 2021
A group of residents have decided to take matters into their own hands over the future of a new community centre.
Residents in Bockhanger, Ashford have launched a consultation on the fate of the replacement of the demolished Bockhanger Community Centre after controversy over council plans.
The eight-page document compiled by the 'Bockhanger and Bybryook Matters' team seeks to allay problems perceived to stem from a previous consultation run by Ashford Borough Council (ABC).
Issues came to a head when a number of residents staged a walk-out at a meeting to discuss the plans at the Spearpoint Pavilion in Kennington.
The walk-out by around half those present for the screening was, according to those who left midway through, prompted by a feeling that they were witness to "a smoke and mirrors exercise" by the borough council and Kennington Community Council.
Alan Dean, who was one of those who walked out, said: "The intention was to have as few residents involved as possible - this was reinforced when I was told the face-to-face was to be held at Spearpoint Pavilion which is the smallest meeting space in the community council area.
"With strict Covid precautions in place numbers were reduced to a maximum of 30 residents.
"We still don't feel we have really been asked the right questions"
"It became even more apparent that this whole thing was a smoke and mirrors exercise to hide the true intent to turn the space over to housing."
The introduction to the new consultation, which is supported by Cllr Diccon Spain, ABC ward member for Bockhanger, says that residents "still don't feel [they] have really been asked the right questions" over what type of facilities are needed on the site.
"That's why, for the sake of all of us residents, we thought it was worth putting together our own much more detailed survey and delivering it by hand to you," it says.
Possible options include a café, rooms to host events and fitness activities, and potentially facilities to host music events, among others.
The consultation is running until Saturday, December 4.
Responding to news of the consultation, a council spokesman said: “The council is aware of the additional survey that residents are undertaking.
"The borough council and Community Council are working together to move the project forward positively and will do everything they can to engage with the newly formed group.
"We firmly believe that the project will be stronger for everyone working together."