An ex-railway firm boss has slammed plans to shut Taunton's ticket office as 'Orwellian.'

David Latimer used to own Cheshire Railtours, a railway firm which was latterly based in Minehead and ran trains from the West Country across Britain.

Mr Latimer has waded into the ongoing row over railway operator plans to remove human staff from ticket offices. Voicing his opposition to the plans he said said:

"I feel passionately about the closure of all public facilities, including Post Offices, Banks, Retail, Council Offices etcetera.

"The usual excuse given by the management of such organisations, is that 'we can now do all our business on (so-called) smart phones', whereas the real reason is often to cut staff, so there's more money for director's bonuses or for P.R. projects and marketing campaigns. 

"This creepiing agenda of digitising all transactions  in life, is leading us down a path of no-return (no pun intended!) towards an Orwellian society, where face to face human contact is destroyed and all semblance of community removed, to be replaced by the all-seeing eye of Big Brother.

"This is not just about the railways - it is about every aspect of human interaction and I believe we must make our voices heard before it's too late."

The comments came ahead of a public meeting at the Great Western Hotel, which is part of a campaign to stop the closure. The meeting was organised by Liberal Democrat candidate for Taunton and Wellington, Gideon Amos, who gathered over 300 signatures from residents in opposition to the ticket office closure. Mr Amos said:

“I’m really pleased that hundreds have backed the campaign I’ve started to save our ticket office.

“The office and its friendly staff give warm welcomes to our County town and many fond farewells. I’ll do everything I can to stop this Government backed move by rail companies to close it. 

The meeting is set to take place at 6.30 pm, Tuesday, July 25 at the Great Western Hotel.