Trash fire at Ashford Memorial Gardens prompts installation of CCTV camera

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A CCTV camera will be installed in Ashford Memorial Gardens after a bin caught fire.

Fire crews were called to the site last Tuesday after a resident spotted an “orange glow” and smoke in the bushes.

A trash can was set on fire in Memorial Gardens last week. Photo: Tasha Clayson

Ashford Borough Council called the incident “unfortunate vandalism” and said action would be taken.

“The bin will be replaced this week and, using some of the funding received by Safer Streets, a CCTV camera will be installed to cover the area,” a spokesperson said.

“It is very sad that the actions of a tiny minority of our community threaten to ruin the enjoyment of one of the most beautiful, quiet spaces in downtown.”

The Safer Streets Fund was awarded to Ashford by the Home Office in 2021 with the aim of making the town safer, particularly for women and girls, following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Earlier this year, part of the £550,000 pot was used to pay for mirrors in a number of town center lanes, including Taylors Passage between the High Street and Park Street.

Firefighters arrived at Memorial Gardens in less than 10 minutes.  Photo: Tasha Clayson
Firefighters arrived at Memorial Gardens in less than 10 minutes. Photo: Tasha Clayson

Part of the fund was also used to create a new Ashford Streetwise app which launched in May.

The app displays the city’s “safe spaces” that residents can go to if they need help, as well as the safest walking routes through the city.

Made in Ashford and The Craftship Enterprise in the Park Mall are two of the city’s many safe spaces.

Melissa Dawkins, Founder of The Craftship Enterprise, said: “It’s a really good plan; I like that there are signs in the windows so people know they can come here and ask for help. .

“And with CCTV, if there are future incidents in Memorial Gardens, then whoever has to respond to them can do so more quickly. So I would feel safer going through that, so I think that’s a very good idea. .”

Melissa Dawkins, founder of The Craftship Enterprise, thinks the CCTV camera is a good way to help people walking through Memorial Gardens feel safer
Melissa Dawkins, founder of The Craftship Enterprise, thinks the CCTV camera is a good way to help people walking through Memorial Gardens feel safer

“I think there’s been a lot of meetings with council and community members to consult with them and see what people think the best course of action would be.”

“I think it’s really valuable that they’ve done this and got all the feedback together on what they’re going to spend their money on.”

But Michelle Krawczyk, administrator of the Ashford Central Community Forum, says she would prefer to see a 24-hour police presence in town.

Michelle Krawczyk, administrator of the Ashford Central Community Forum
Michelle Krawczyk, administrator of the Ashford Central Community Forum

“While I believe CCTV has its place and can be effective in helping to deter certain types of crime, I maintain my view that what Ashford really needs is a larger and more consistent police presence.”

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