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Monthly Archives: February 2009

It gives me no pleasure to report that suspicions about South West Trains tactics on staffing ticket offices, voiced on a blog on this site on January 19 this year, already appear to be coming true. After apparently accepting the government’s insistence last month that they should not slash the opening times of many ticket offices, SWT is approaching this from another angle, as predicted, by keeping the ticket offices open but cutting staff anyway. Thus at West Byfleet station plans are afoot to cut the current staff by 60%, from five to two. This will mean that when two ticket windows are required to be open to cope with peak morning demand, from around 7-9.30 am, only one window will be open, creating long queues and frustration and forcing people to board trains without tickets, and be treated as suspected criminals by SWT guards as a result. Are SWT suggesting that peak passengers numbers are down by 50%? A veteran member of staff who attempted to inform his customers of this news was threatened with suspension as a result. These cuts are likely to be replicated at other stations in the Woking area and across the network. This is typical of SWT’s arrogant behaviour, towards government now, as well as long-suffering passengers. Don’t let them get away with it!

Last month plans for World Wildlife Fund-UK to move its headquarters from Godalming to Brewery Road, Woking, alongside the Basingstoke canal and close to the Lightbox, moved a step forward when councillors gave the go-ahead for negotiations to start. WWF is talking about a building that is environmentally-sensitive and uses sustainable resources, which obviously fits in with Woking’s increased attempt to brand itself as an environmentally-friendly town. The coming of WWF to Woking would certainly raise the town’s profile, and provide some consolation after the about-turn by Surrey county council on plans to establish a new HQ on the same site three years ago. These were scuppered partly by the opposition of residents in nearby Horsell, who may also object to WWF, but more importantly on cost grounds. (Surrey instead elected to keep its HQ in the London borough of Kingston after all, which has not been part of Surrey since the mid-1960s).  David Nussbaum, the chief executive of WWF-UK, has been quoted as saying: “The new green headquarters offers WWF a fantastic opportunity to improve our own footprint, and improve the way that we, as an organisation, interact with our environment. We have been keen to understand local perspectives about our aspirations for the Brewery Road site, and have been particularly encouraged by the response from members of the public during the initial consultation exercises.” Make of that what you will!

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