Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lights out in Powys again.

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.


Anonymous said...

Can you believe that our part-time MP attended a meeting to launch the Parliamentarians for West Papua?! And he couldn't be bothered to turn up for a vote on Post Office closures in Westminster......When is he going to get his come-uppance?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what disability impact assessment has been done (as a legal requirement). I'm deaf (and not just a bit), no light = can't communicate. Try it with half the lights out. Also Increased risk of falling over. (Balance organ in your ear, I rely on visual information to be mobile, not sound). Am young enough to go out at night.

Has anyone considerd the impact? Probably not.

What's going to happen when energy goes up in future, turn all lights off? This calls for sustainable solutions. Powys is windfarm central, how about exchanging subsidised energy for the environmental impact inflicted on us? Wind farms are our now parallel to dam building / water to England.

Huw said...

Cannot find the link at present, however a company in Israel have developed a technology which dims street light to a set level, which increases to full output whenever anything is detected such as a person or car. The council could also invest in LED street lights.

Anonymous said...

Glyn,See you there, I hear that officer what a joint motion from the Conservative & Lib Dem Groups rather than seprate ones? I hope that you are present when the motion is debated, but I fear not, you know how Full Council meetings go?

Anonymous said...

Very well put, Glyn. The money lost from the Icelandic interest will shadow the pittance saved from turning the lights off, but both are less than what the Council spends on a whole host of officials in County Hall who add nothing to the running of an efficient council but do add greatly to the wage bill. I am resuming my Powys Peasants' Revolt, but not against the Councillors (for now) but against the unelected officials and officers.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

I'm all in favour of fewer streetlights and a turning-off at a set point - but this does seem to be a little extreme. It also seems a bit sudden - how long did they spend checking which lights were really needed and could you get them there?

Unknown said...

Anon 1 -You know that Lembit missed the vote on PO as he was in a meeting in Powys in local PO closures.

Glyn - If your blog is going to become a set of anonymous comments slagging Lembit/the Lib Dems off, I for one will stop reading it.

Gary Price - Well done for mentioning the fact the the Con/Lib councillors are calling for the lights to be switched back on, something Glyn missed off.

Anonymous said...

Well, the so-called Independents voted as they were told to do by their task masters (the Council Officials) and have carried through the plunging of Powys into darkness. I hope the voters realised who did this to them. The PIGs and the MIGs and Labour members!!

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Nothing inherently wrong with promoting democracy in other parts of the world. I've commented before before about the 'missed vote' on post offices - I, too thought that a mistake.

alison - Good point. A local solicitor was telling me only yesterday that a claim on the Council is a near certainty. I will ask that this point be followed up.

Huw - The impression I get is that not much thought went into this decision - which is why I think the Council will be open to legal claims.

Gary - Couldn't stay for the debate. I hear that the Conservatives and Lib Dems merged their motions. I was also told by other councillors that the Conservative motion on its own would probably have been approved.

Roman - Welcome back to the Peasant's Revolt.

Half Blood - Your view is exactly the same as mine.

Gareth - We know that both Powys MPs were at an information meeting about post offices in Llandrindod when the Parliamentary vote to which you refer was taken. The point is that they, as MPs were the only two people who could vote in the House of Commons. They could have sent anyone to the Llan'dod meeting.

I have some sympathy with your opinion. I also allow comments that abuse me. I do have a policy of allowing comments unless they are just gratuitously insulting or intended to cause damage to innocent people. Politicians are fairly tough. In truth I do moderate quite a lot of comment about the MP. But I think I will become more rigourous about allowing knocking comment only if there's a genuine reason. I'm particularly keen to have comments that disagree with my posts.

Anonymous said...


Re:The so called missed vote.
Lets face it whatever the Lib Dem MP's had done the Tories would have slatted them for it. If they hadnt attended the meeting in Llandod the Tories would have complained and try to use it against them. But dont forget there were a number of Tory MP's that didn't attend the vote either despite it being their debate.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - You need to check your position on this. No-one would have 'slated' the Lib Dems for not going to Llan'dod. It was our vote and we needed them there. About 20 Conservatives missed the vote, including David Cameron who had an urgent family issue - but all of them were 'paired'. The 2 Liberal Democrats were not 'paired'. They just b*****ed off and ignored the vote. It was indefensible, and you would be better off letting the matter lie and moving on.

Anonymous said...

well the lib dems and the conservatives fought together for the people of powys and thats momentuous . pehaps that should be praised - that young councillors newly elected of both sides took the fight to officers of the councileven though they are barely out of nappies and the old folk just looked on puzzled !

Glyn Davies said...

anon - You are correct in one sense. The two political groups did act like political groups, demonstrating that officer/establishment control is weakening.