18 August 2009
Travelling long distances to work at Slough Council

Last week I said goodbye to departing council finance director Andrew Blake-Herbert.

Andrew's experience is typical of many senior Slough Council staff. Every day for the last 7 years Andrew left home at 6:00 am to drive from East London via the M25 to his job at Slough Council's Town Hall. Andrew admits that on a good day he spent only 3 hours travelling per day. On a bad day with M25 blocked for many hours the journey is a nightmare.

Travelling long distances to work is environmentally damaging because of the pollution it creates. It is also personally damaging to the heath and welfare of the staff who become exhausted by the daily journey. Long commutes adversely affect families because the spouse always see's a tired partner arriving home late. Their children are fast asleep before tired Dad returns home.

Council's spin doctors worked overtime last week claiming Slough Council wants to save the planet and reduce pollution. Last year the council applied to become the UK's only United Nations Eco-City.

Andrew's replacement as finance director, Julie Evans, will be coming in from Chipping Norton in the north of Oxfordshire.

After this letter was published, I subsequently discovered Julie Evans would be journeying from nearby Old Windsor because her Oxfordshire accommodation was no longer available.

The government's travel web site says the public transport journey is between 2 and 4 hours one-way. The car journey is 65 to 70 miles and takes 1.1/2 hours one-way.

When employing Mrs Evans, Slough Council admitted it didn't care how far away from Slough council staff live. It offered Mrs Evans no help to move nearer to Slough.

No official can arrive fresh for work every day of the week if they have to sit in a car for 3 to 4 hours a day fighting their way through the traffic. The government recognised this last week when they downgraded the council's performance from 3 stars to 2 stars.

Slough Party policy 27 says council staff should work within a maximum travelling distance of 30 minutes from Slough to save the environment, reduce pollution, to protect the staff's welfare and ensure staff are not too tired before they start their day's work.


Paul Janik
The Slough Party.