Woking Business

Woking News & Mail reader survey goes live

THE Woking News and Mail launched its first survey this week, confident that demand for a local newspaper is stronger than ever.

Woking’s only designated newspaper is offering readers the chance to “have your say”, with automatic entry to win a whole year’s free subscription to the Woking News and Mail as well as £100 worth of Debenham’s vouchers in a prize draw. The survey is also reaching out to retailers and advertisers as key stakeholders.

The survey was compiled by local research consultancy The Halo Works and aims to build the publication’s growing readership with a two-way conversation with residents and businesses in the area. Launched on Monday, the survey takes no morer than five minutes to complete and remains live online until 17 May at http://feedback.thehaloworks.com/survey/selfserve/174e/170311.

Local businessman, Philip Davies who with his brother Jon also owns Knaphill Print, bought the title in 2011 after it was closed by Trinity Mirror in 2010. Since then the small sales and editorial teams, with support from community news contributors, has seen a gradual increase in the publication’s circulation.

News and Mail Managing Director Terry Tidbury says: “We want to know what our readers, retailers and advertisers have to say because we believe that interest in local news is stronger than ever.

“The increased appetite for community news owes a lot to citizen participation in news, but this tends to be rooted in the work of volunteers which can leave titles vulnerable for a variety of reasons. As a local newspaper business we are accountable for our content and its delivery on a number of levels. We see a real future for local news and we’re confident that the results of this survey will help us to enhance our offer.”

“The launch of our Chobham edition has been very popular,” says Editor Stuart Flitton. “It illustrates the fact that people are welcoming the newspaper back as an important source of local news and more importantly a way of linking up to community life. Its why we’ve found that readers really value the work of contributors such Ann Tilbury, who focuses mainly on Horsell community news.”

THE Princess Royal officially opened a £24 million world-leading vaccine development facility at The Pirbright Institute near Woking.

The Jenner Building is home to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) National Vaccinology Centre. It accommodates 100 scientists working on cutting-edge research to generate new vaccines for a variety of livestock diseases, including those that can spread to humans. Scientists mainly focus on poultry diseases such as bird flu and Marek’s disease, but they also develop vaccines for other animal viruses such as the devastating African horse sickness virus.

The building is 14.6m tall and has 3,700sqm of floor space across two floors, which is equivalent to 19 tennis courts.

It has shared, open-plan laboratories that can each house between six to 30 scientists. Specialised labs include a bio-imaging, cell culture suite and a Home Office incubation laboratory

Recent breakthroughs at Pirbright include using new technologies that facilitate the development of a new-generation of genetically modified vaccines.

Dr Bryan Charleston, interim director and CEO of The Pirbright Institute, said the organisation was very honoured to have Princess Anne officially open the centre.

“Our innovative new facilities will enable scientists to develop a greater understanding of virus-host interactions and how best to combat diseases using the latest technologies including the genetic modification of vaccines and viruses,” Dr Charleston said.

[red blob] THE Jenner Building was designed by the architects NBBJ, who were appointed in 2012. It consumes 20% less energy than the buildings it replaced. This was achieved by including features such as automated façade vents for night-time cooling, rainwater harvesting, extensive use of LED lights, and 283 photovoltaic panels on the roof with a brief to design for adaptability in the context of an evolving campus and changing research programmes and to ensure the design reflected the rural campus while setting new standards for sustainability and quality of experience for occupants.

Landscape designers Robert Myers Associates created a wildflower meadow to the south, part of which was awarded to the Institute for winning the CIRIA biodiversity BIG Challenge Awards. The rest of the wildflower planting was donated by construction company John Sisk & Sons, and is haven for wildlife and insects.

WOKING shoppers and businesses could to join a groundbreaking worldwide loyalty card scheme that combines cash-back with bonus points.

The planned scheme would involve shoppers signing up for a Lyoness card with shops and other businesses in the town centre.

The card, run by the Austrian-based Lyoness Management GmbH, is available in Britain but Woking Borough Council would be the first local authority in the country to take part in a mass sign-up of the programme.

It would be free to shoppers who would get cashback up to 5% that would go into their bank accounts, while businesses in the scheme would get 0.5% on all transactions, not only in Woking but in any of the 47 countries around the world where the card is accepted.

Woking Borough Council would receive 0.5% of all transactions, all of which would benefit good causes through the Woking Community Foundation.

 Jubilee Square, Woking, Surrey.
Pictures by: Jake Darling
www.giddendarling.com

The plan is to be put forward tonight (23 March) to the council executive, which will be asked to recommend that the full council appoints Lyoness to run the programme at its next meeting on 6 April.

Businesses will have to buy the electronic devise to process card transactions and pay a small monthly fee, but will benefit, not only directly from the money back on transactions, but by increased custom and marketing generated by the card.

They would offer products or services to the Lyoness bonus points system at discounts of between 5% and 15%.

It is believed that other loyalty schemes in neighbouring boroughs have been considered but dismissed on cost grounds, whereas the Lyoness version, which will be known as the Woking Loyalty Card Programme if it receives the backing of the full council, is seen as costing the authority very little, while offering widespread benefits. It would be managed by the council’s Business Liaison team as part of its business engagement duties and would add very little administration cost.

The draft plan involves the scheme being introduced to the town centre, and then to other parts of the borough with the hope that surrounding local authorities will see the advantages and join in.

It is believed that some local authorities in London are watching the planned Woking scheme closely.

Business Liaison portfolio holder Cllr Saj Hussain said: “This would be great – it would put Woking on the map as the card will be available globally – Australia, Dubai and elswhere. With the benefits to businesses, shoppers and good causes, it is a win-win situation.

“I hope the executive and council agrees and look forward to this coming to the town.”

THE redevelopment of Woking town centre has moved an important step forward with retail giant Marks & Spencer signing a lease for a two-storey 50,000sq ft food and clothes store in the plush Victoria Square complex.

The deal means that the superstore is now a certainty for the base of the £460million development that will include a 196-room Hilton Woking hotel and 390 apartments.

David Ayre, Property Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “We’re really looking forward to work starting on our store later on this summer.

“M&S Woking will bring shoppers the very best of M&S’s clothing and food products – as well as outstanding customer service.”

The Victoria Square development, comprising the former Woking Market, Post Office, Globe House, Woking Fire Station and part of the existing Wolsey Place Shopping Centre, will be delivered by Bandstand Square Developments Ltd, a joint venture between Moyallen, owners of Peacocks Shopping Centre, and Woking Borough Council.

Various stores in the Wolsey, including Boots, will be moving over the next six weeks to help to ease the building.

Council chief executive Ray Morgan said he wanted to emphasise that the town centre was open for business during the inevitable disruption, including road closures and diversions.

Mr Morgan said that residents were being put off from coming into the town centre because of negative headlines about the changes.

He said there was a particularly difficult day in January, but that was mostly down to problems on the M25 that had knock-on effects.

“We do want to discourage through-traffic; using the A320 as a cut-through from the A3 to the M25. But we want to encourage people to continue to come into the town for work, leisure or retail therapy,” Mr Morgan said.

He said there would be further announcements about changes to the roads, including having a bus lane on the far left of Victoria Way between Lockfield Drive and the pedestrian crossing near the New Victoria Theatre. There would be a bus stop near the Bedser Bridge across the Basingstoke Canal to allow easier pedestrian access to that part of the town.

Mr Morgan said that the new apartments would be for rent only and would cost about £1,800 a month for a two-bedroom home.

He said these would be aimed at couples, aged in the 22 to 38 bracket, who both had jobs and might want to share with another couple.

There would be other accommodation in the town centre that would be targeted at people with lower incomes.

STUDENTS aiming to be Formula 1 engineers have been given a big boost by a Woking businessman.

Billy Gallon, boss of the Buckingham car dealership in Albert Drive, Sheerwater, has stepped in to support a motor racing team run by Brooklands College.

The extra funding will enable the college’s motorsport engineering degree course students to travel around Britain to compete throughout the 2017 UK Formula Vee championship season.

Billy – (MD Buckingham of Guildford – third on the left) with his staff, together with Jake Hockley (Driver) and the team from Brooklands College.

Their car, a 130mph single-seater based around Volkswagen parts, is owned and driven by cyber security company chief Jake Hockley, 39, and all the maintenance is carried out at Brooklands.

Now students, many of whom hope to work in F1 after graduating, will be able to look after the vehicle during race meetings at circuits including Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park.

The team will be known as Buckingham Brooklands College Racing.

Mr Gallon, 59, said: “This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for Buckingham to put something back into the local community.

“It will also help to bring along Britain’s next generation of engineers, who are sorely needed by the motor trade, both on the track and on the road.

“It makes sense for Buckingham, as VW dealers, to have a connection with a nationwide championship for cars that use VW parts.

“Apart from anything else, being involved in a racing team should be a lot of fun for me, my family and our workforce.”

Students Dominic Connors and Adam Burch, both 19, are among those who believe the project will be an important stepping stone to F1 or other international motorsport championships.

Dominic, whose ambition is to become a top racing car designer, said: “This is a great way to get there.

“This sort of racing is where companies and teams look for future employees and even by itself it will give me a really good experience of working with a team.”

Adam, who hopes to become a data analyst, added: “It’s 100 per cent about experience in the motorsport world, so every race I attend will go on my CV and will definitely help me to land a job after graduating.

“To be able to say I’ve helped to run a team at a track is so much better than just saying I’ve been in a workshop.”

The team is stepping up to a full season of racing after dipping a toe in the water last year by undertaking a limited campaign without sponsorship.

Its value was shown when one of the students involved, Toby Cook, landed a job with the renowned M-Sport team, which ran World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier to victory in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally.

NETWORK Rail and South West Trains have published detailed information to help passengers plan their journeys in advance, ahead of some major disruptions taking place this summer.

As part of an £800 million Railway Upgrade Plan, between 5 and 28 August Platforms 1 to 9 at London Waterloo will close. And while Platforms 20 to 24 will temporarily re-open, significantly fewer trains will run right across the network.

Construction will also start on extending Platforms 1 to 4 to accommodate longer trains on suburban routes, a crucial part of the Waterloo & South West upgrade, which will provide 30% more passenger space during the busiest times of the day.

The majority of stations will have fewer services while a small number will be closed.

Becky Lumlock, Route Managing Director of Network Rail, said: “We’re in the midst of the largest upgrade at Waterloo for decades and this is a significant part of the plan. Currently the majority of our engineering work is behind the scenes, but in August we have a number of critical pieces of the programme to complete.

“This means big changes and we want passengers to be equipped to plan ahead. Waterloo is the busiest railway station in Britain and numbers are continuing to grow. We therefore need to increase capacity.”

Christian Roth, Managing Director, South West Trains, added: “We are doing everything we can to inform passengers and businesses more than six months in advance so they understand the possible impact, whether regular commuters or infrequent travellers.”

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers have a simple message: ‘provide me with clear information about how my journey will be affected, how it will impact on me and what alternatives are in place’.

“It is reassuring to see Network Rail and South West Trains are committed to understanding more about their passengers’ needs.

“Staff need to be on hand to provide passengers with information to minimise disruption.”

In addition to the works in August, there will be works at London Waterloo on some weekends from Easter through to October. More details will be published closer to the time but passengers are reminded to continue to check ahead.

The information is available online and includes more detailed travel advice for each station, draft service information and a special ‘at a glance’ train service map.

In addition, Network Rail and South West Trains are starting a large passenger roadshow, with 61 events in stations and on trains until 15 February.

FOR more details and to plan your journey, pick up an updated leaflet, visit www.southwesttrains.co.uk/wswupgrade or search ‘Waterloo Upgrade’ online.

SURREY Heath and Runnymede councils supported each other’s applications to be included on the Government’s garden villages list, it has emerged.

While the communities near Fairoaks Airport and the former military land at Longcross were unaware of the bids for nearby huge housing developments, the two authorities were co-operating on their ‘expressions of interest’.

On 28 July last year, three days before the Government deadline for garden village bids, the councils’ chief executives exchanged similarly worded letters saying they will work with each other on the developments.

Both bids cover a small part of each of the neighbouring boroughs, so it would natural for the two councils to co-operate on the potential developments.

But they were doing this at a time when the communities that would be affected had not been consulted and had no idea that garden villages were being proposed on their doorsteps.

The former DERA, or Chobham Tank Factory land at Longcross has long been designated in Runnymede’s local plan for a new ‘village’ in the Green Belt. It is jointly owned by developers Crest Nicholson and the Aviva insurance conglomerate, which had an existing plan for 1,300 homes on the military test track land.

The Fairoaks garden village bid, however, came as a complete surprise to the Chobham community, including the parish council. It was made public only after Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove asked the parish in November for its views on a potential garden village at the airport.

This week, Mr Gove was ignoring further requests from the News & Mail for comments on why he got involved and for his views on the garden village bids.

While Runnymede has made its application freely available on its website, Surrey Heath is refusing to release its bid, saying it is an ‘exempt’ document.

Surrey Heath also declined to comment further on the failed Fairoaks bid, saying only that it will consider a planning application for housing on the airport land if one is made.

DRIVERS are facing months of disruption in Woking town centre as roads are closed or made one-way during work connected with the major building developments.

Diversions and a temporary closure will make Victoria Way a road to avoid. Surrey County Council has warned of ‘major traffic impact with significant delays [that] can be expected in the surrounding area’.

The key commuting route will be closed westbound from the Brook House roundabout to the Chobham Road junction from 11 to 19 February during the laying of heating and cooling pipes for the Victoria Gate office refurbishment. No diversion route is advised.

Church Street West will be closed in both directions between 30 January and 6 February with diversions in place.

In addition, from the end of this month, The Broadway and High Street, adjacent to the railway line, and Cawsey Way will be made one-way. This will mean that there will be no entry into Cawsey Way from Victoria Way, with diversions in place.

These changes will be in place for at least nine months during the demolition of existing buildings and their replacement by the £460 million Victoria Square development.

The alternative route to The Broadway will put further pressure on Victoria Way as traffic is sent northeast to the Brook House roundabout and then onto Chertsey Road and Stanley Road.

In addition, work began this week on an entrance filter lane for Hoe Valley School, with a lane closure and temporary traffic lights on Egley Road. The speed limit will be cut to 30mph during the roadworks, which are expected to last eight months.

Other ideas being considered include the reconfiguring of the congested High Street/Cawsey Way with access to Victoria Way moved to the site of the former Market Square and High Street closed to all traffic except buses and bicycles during the day and evening. Cawsey Way would then be redundant and removed, paving the way for more development and open spaces. The taxi rank outside the railway station, which causes significant traffic congestion, would then be moved to The Broadway with extra bays at the eastern end of Goldsworth Road.

A bus lane on Victoria Way with a bus stop near The Lightbox are also being considered.

SOUTH West Trains recently took delivery of the first of its 30 new Class 707 high density inner suburban five car trains.

The Desiro City (707101) rolling stock is now under wraps at Clapham Junction after vandals sprayed it with graffiti shortly after its arrival.

It was hauled by two Class 37 diesel locomotives from Dollands Moor freight year near Folkestone after making its journey through the Channel Tunnel from the Siemens testing centre at Wildenrath near Dusseldorf in Germany.

The new trains will be seen on the Woking to Waterloo line but will mostly run on the route from London to Windsor & Eton Riverside.  Costing £210 million the new trains are expected to enter service across the network from June this year.
One railway enthusiast recently spent £2,550 securing a cab ride in of one the new trains at the Siemens test track in Germany after SWT offered it on eBay.

HOEBRIDGE Golf Centre, near Old Woking, has opened its newly refurbished gym after a £250,000 investment at the venue.

The renovations to the Gym at Hoebridge, previously known as Horizones Health and Fitness, received a complete makeover with the introduction of state-of-the-art Matrix equipment, ‘My Ride’ spin technology, and refurbished changing rooms and fitness studios.

Hoebridge Senior General Manager Mike O’Connell said: “The investments made at Hoebridge have enabled us to provide an even better service to our many members and visitors.”

“The refurbishment to the Gym at Hoebridge is the final stage in an extensive project to enhance the facilities we have on offer here, and invite more people from the area to enjoy the social, health, and leisure benefits of visiting Hoebridge.”

Over the last 12 months, nearly £500,000 worth of investments have been made at the club with enhancements to the centre’s events facilities, including the installation of a function suite that was opened last year for recreational and business use.

Hoebridge has three separate golf courses, Footgolf facilities, Mr Mulligan’s Pirate Golf, a gym, and two multi-purpose function rooms, both available for hire.

For more information on Hoebridge, visit www.hoebridgegc.co.uk.

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