Woking RatePayers Pay The Cost Of Council’s Green Vainglory

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dave Ward


In 2004, Woking Borough Council in Surrey had the bright idea of wasting £4m of taxpayers money on building an eco-friendly canopy outside the railway station there.

Well, after all, it did have solar panels, so surely it must make sense?

In 2013 though, the GetSurrey news site revealed just how much money was really wasted:



THE cost of the controversial project to build an eco-friendly canopy outside Woking railway station totalled more than £4 million, it has emerged.

Widespread feeling among traders in the town centre that the 21-month Albion Square project was a white elephant has been seemingly confirmed by the figures.

Boasting photovoltaic cells to harness the sun’s power, the canopy was a controversial project from the start.

Following Woking Borough Council’s full council meeting on Monday, May 24, a report was published in which councillors’ questions were put to leader John Kingsbury.

In the report, Councillor Kingsbury said: “The total cost of the canopy project was £4.2m, including all works and ancillary costs.

“The actual construction cost was £3.75m.”

He added that the council had borrowed £2.6m for the canopy project and received a £300,000 government grant for the photovoltaic panels, which are designed to help generate electricity from solar power.

Cllr Kingsbury also revealed that the running costs of the structure, which generated £3,383 from electricity sales, would be £119,206.

He said: “In 2009/10, the cost of electricity bought was £1,706 and electricity sold was £3,383.

“Other costs include insurance of £7,884 and financing costs of £110,000 per annum, covering interest and debt repayment.

“Quotes for future maintenance are currently being sought and are expected to be an estimated £7,500 per annum.”

As part of the canopy project, Albion Square was completely remodelled with cobbles and paving, raised flowerbeds and benches.

The overhead canopy outside the station is a glass and steel structure that straddles the square.

Despite the council assuring objecting residents that the canopy would help the borough’s ‘green’ reputation, Cllr Kingsbury has stated: “It was never the intention that the success of the project should be measured by income generated by electricity production.”

One of the canopy’s intended functions is to act as a gateway to the town.

However, shop owners and workers in the town centre claim there has been no noticeable increase in trade.

Karin Khan, who owns Khan’s Store in Courtenay Road, said: “It’s a waste of money.

“I thought it was a waste of money then and now I see the true cost and how much the council is going to need to pay back, it seems even more pointless.

“It’s not a good looking thing and people loiter under there.

“I don’t think it does any good for the town.”

Helen Horvath, who works at The Sewing Centre in Chertsey Road, said: “Everybody thinks it’s a bit of a white elephant.

“There are lots of areas in Woking that need to be worked on much more than that square.

“It’s not the same budget – everybody knows that – but the crime and the CCTV cameras should be looked at, especially in Chertsey Road.”

Another town centre worker, who did not want to be named, claimed: “It’s worsened business, if anything.

“Now there are people hanging around under the canopy late at night.

“It is always a mess. There’s rubbish everywhere, people urinate around there and I’ve come into work in the morning and there’s vomit on the doorstep.”



Still, although it lost huge amounts of money and maintenance costs dwarfed the value of the risible amount of electricity produced, it did help the Borough’s “green reputation” and act as a “gateway to the town”.

Didn’t it?

Well, apparently not, as those inconvenient beggars at the GetSurrey website revealed last week:



Removing the canopy, which cost £4m, is part of plans to create a "welcoming public plaza" outside Woking railway station

Plans to develop a new public plaza in Woking are set to begin next week with the demolition of the Albion Square "canopy".

The canopy’s demolition is part of the plans to create a "welcoming pedestrianised public plaza" outside Woking railway station.

Once described as "state-of-the-art" by Woking Borough Council (WBC), the £4m canopy was granted planning permission in 2004 and used photovoltaic panels to generate solar energy.

The first phase of demolition works will commence on Tuesday (January 2) and are expected to last two weeks. Demolition work will take place at night between 11pm and 5am.



One wonders how much money has been wasted on projects such as this in recent years.

Local council need little encouragement at the best of times to waste taxpayers’ money on grandiose projects, which have little value other than inflating councillors’ egos.

But add in government grants for green nonsense and the ability to sell such projects as eco-friendly, and you have a whole new ball game.



January 5, 2018 at 05:06PM

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