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Local councillor Richard Wilson feels strongly about West Byfleet. So strongly that at a recent council meeting he described the shopping centre as resembling East Berlin. The council’s chief executive, Ray Morgan, went further, saying that most of it should be knocked down.  Now, since this is not likely to happen in the immediate future,  not least because of credit-crunch economics, one wonders what prompted such outbursts?  We know Mr Morgan, a bit of a visionary on the quiet, is secretly keen to wield the same demolition ball to most of Woking,  even though the building West Byfleet’s unlovely Sheer House, above, most closely resembles is Mr Morgan’s own council headquarters. Carrying on the Berlin Wall analogy, West Byfleet’s public library building, below, is strangely reminiscent of a gun emplacement. Having said, that, I once met the architect who designed it, and he was remarkably proud of it. While we’re about it, I’m troubled by a question to which I’ve never really known the answer, even though I’ve lived in the area for 27 years: is West Byfleet a village, or a town? Myself, I think it’s a village. But West Byfleet has a lot going for it, whatever Mr Morgan might say. It boasts a fine music shop and bookshop, three cafes, and many more restaurants than you would have a right to expect in a place its size. Moreover, a community is more than the sum of its buildings. Let’s hope so, for Woking’s sake!

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