This is a post of interest to the people of Powys only. Not often that this most beautiful of counties makes the UK news. But that's what happened when the Council decided to turn off 67% of the street lights a few weeks back. Turn them off completely that is. None of this half way house of turning them off at midnight. The full plunge into darkness. Everywhere I go, people are running from their houses to appraise me of their outrage. Anyway there's going to be an unholy row in tomorrow's quarterly meeting of the Council. The Tories are leading the way with a motion for debate. I'm going to turn up to watch the fireworks.
I have to be careful what I say about this subject. Last time I posted on it, the Council's Press Officer emailed me, informing me that my post was mistaken. I really hate it when my information is wrong and I have to retract. Hurts my pride - but needs must. When the BBC network, turned up in Llanfair Caereinion last Monday, I implied that the Council had kept it quiet - to avoid a local posse turning up was my inference. Seems I was wrong. Sorry about that John. That's what I'd been told.
Must admit I had some sympathy with the Council over this 'lights out' issue - but they went much too far. If the 'Board' who take these decisions had gone for one third, with genuine local consultation, people would have accepted it. If they'd gone for two thirds reduced to 'part-night lighting', it would have been accepted. But they didn't - and now they may well have to back track. I'm also told that the Board that runs Powys County Council have decided not to order the bit of kit that allows for part night lighting to be introduced. This could be a mistake. Since lots of other Councils seem to be following where Powys have dared to tread, there is going to be a huge demand for these 'timer switches'. Short sighted in my opinion. Powys should have ordered them. Even if the decision is not to back track at all, there would be no difficulty selling them on. They could well have made a profit! I took the trouble to check up on the waiting time, and was told it's already approaching three months.
Won't be able to stay long at tomorrow's Council meeting though. Will probably miss the statement on the Icelandic banks investment. I reckon that the loss of interest on the investment will probably turn out to be more than the money saved by turning the lights out. What's really intersting is that councillors are being told that its essential to put the lights out for financial reasons, but that the loss of interest will have no impact whatsoever on Council services. Ah well, its the way you tell 'em. Going up to Machynlleth in the afternoonto meet Shadow Secretary of State, Cheryl Gillan. She thinks we're visiting local businesses. But I'm planning on taking her to visit Will Lloyd-Williams' abattoir, which is very important to the town. I hope she's not squeamish - and I hope no-one tells her what I've got planned.