Fleet News

Vodafone puts Prescott to the test

THE Government's commitment to comprehensive corporate green transport plans is being put to the test by Britain's second largest company. Vodafone Airtouch has created one of the most all-embracing company green transport plans in the country in an attempt to move staff from a traffic-choked town centre to a modern purpose-built out-of-town site. The company says the move is essential with staff making about 1,200 journeys a day between its 57 offices in Newbury's congested town centre.

However, the radical transport shake-up, which includes reviewing allocation of the company's 800-strong company car fleet and telling more than 3,000 employees who drive to work to get the bus, train or cycle, is conditional on the relocation plan being given the go-ahead by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. As Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Prescott is responsible for solving Britain's transport crisis - including encouraging corporate green transport plans - and granting planning approval in test cases.

Vodafone's greenfield development scheme marks a departure from West Berkshire Council's local plan, although the council has agreed planning permission in principle, the scheme must be approved by Prescott. If the telecommunications giant gets planning permission, it says 37 of its town centre offices will relocate to a new £100million complex, housing more than 3,000 employees and drastically reducing the number of journeys made in Newbury by the company's fleet of 800 cars and 70 vans, plus the movement of staff at the beginning and end of the day.

Prescott's much-heralded integrated transport white paper aims to take motorists out of their cars and cut road congestion, and Vodafone chief executive Chris Gent says this is exactly what the company will be doing with the development of its green transport plan, reducing the levels of congestion and pollution in Newbury.

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