The club held the first of the newly-formed Supporters Advisory Board (SAB) on 27th January 2017, and Pride of Irons is represented on it by our treasurer, Alastair Holmes.

 The SAB has been in place for about six years, and had previously been very focused on the move to the new stadium. Now that we’ve moved to Stratford, the club reviewed the format of the SAB and have relaunched it with a much smaller membership, primarily drawing on members who represent other supporters groups, such as Pride of Irons. So 20 members went along to Stratford on Monday evening for a 3-hour meeting to cover a wide range of topics raised by their members. The meeting was hosted by Karen Brady (Vice-Chairman), Tara Warren (Director of Marketing and Communications) and Nicola Kaye (Head of Ticketing).

The club have published minutes at http://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2017/january/27-january/supporter-advisory-board-enjoy-positive-meeting , so rather than repeating everything in the minutes, here’s a few points that address specific concerns raised by POI members beforehand:

  • Entering & Exiting the stadium: Lots of discussion over inconsistent routes at each match – the stadium operators and police are still trying different routes afterwards, and the club will review the content of the email sent out the day before to see if that can be more useful. In response to the point about suggesting that the police hold away fans in the stadium, it was pointed out that national policing policy is not to do that, unless there is a specific issue or danger with one set of supporters. Routinely holding away supporters can just antagonise them and cause other problems.
  • Westfield: Whilst the club representatives wouldn’t state it, it was clear that they were exasperated by the frequent changes to entrances and exits at Westfield on matchdays. The club are in dialogue with Westfield, but there is very little progress, and they have appealed to people who are frustrated by Westfield’s approach to complain to them directly at customerservices@westfield-uk.com.
  • Turnstiles: From next season, supporters entering the East Stand through gates F, G or H will receive new access cards allowing access through only one of the gates – the nearest to where they are sitting. This is being done to balance out the queues and speed up entry.
  • Security searches: They are here to stay unfortunately – a reflection of the current climate, rather than anything WHU-specific. However the stadium operator recognises the need to speed things up and they are purchasing more search wands, which avoid the need to do a body frisk, thereby speeding it up.
  • Pudding Mill Lane DLR station: While building work continues, the club have been asked not to publicise the station. But this remains one of the quickest ways to get on to public transport… just don’t tell everyone!
  • Stewarding: General feeling is that it’s improving, but still more to do. The club have asked that if you experience any instances of bad stewarding, you email them through supporterservices@westhamunited.co.uk. The club and stadium operator will investigate and take action if appropriate (which has included removing a few stewards). The Supporters Services team has been strengthened in the last couple of months.

 Overall, a productive meeting that lasted for almost 3 hours. Thanks to all of the members who provided feedback beforehand – it really helps to know what are the issues that matter. The club reiterated that if you have any specific comments, good or bad, you should email them at supporterservices@westhamunited.co.ukso that they can address any issues quickly.

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