Friday, January 09, 2009

Street Lighting in Powys - No 2

I need to lie down in a dark room. John Brautigam of Llanfyllin has just incapacitated my ability to reason. My brain has seized up. John has been enlightening me about the background to the 'Street Lighting in Powys' debate. Probably reached first base, where I have a clearer idea of what I need a clearer idea about. I've asked my office to arrange an urgent meeting with the most appropriate officer at Powys County Council and Cllr. Gwilym Evans, the appropriate councillor to discuss the issue. Am willing to move my diary around to fit in.

There are two general issues to understand - the first being how the Council reached the position where councillors decide that 67% of street lights must be switched off, with minimal consultation, and maximum disruption to community activity. The background involves a sensible report delivered in 2005, which eventually led to what I consider a very unsensible action - following massive annual increases in the bill sent to the Council from its electricity suppliers. In particular, I'm interested in the role played by something called the Office of Government Commerce, a division of the Treasury - and whether these massive annual increases were influenced by a Government decision to raise money, over and above the cost of power. The bottom of this could well prove impossible to reach. But one must try.

The second issue concerns where we go from here. In the very short term, the Council is returning to the site of the 'switch-off' carnage, to reduce damage to community activity be changing around the lights which are doubted. Sensible enough - as far as it goes. But what next. Seems to me the ideal position would be that more lights were switched back on, part-night lighting be introduced and a programme of switching to LED arrays is implemented. Now you may well ask, what on earth is an LED array. Well, I remember LEDs from about 30 years ago, when our no 1 son, Edward, then about 8 years old, was obsessed by electricity and wouldn't stop going on about Light Emitting Diodes. He even persuaded his younger brother, Patrick, who had no interest whatsoever in things electric, to spend his pocket money buying LEDs. So there's nothing new about LEDs. And I'm told an 'array' is the word that replaces a 'bulb in that an LED light is made up of several sources of light.

I'm told that the Council has been considering switching to LED street lighting for some time, but there is a high capital installation cost - and it cannot be afforded. These things have a short pay-back period, because an 'array' operates at 20 watts, rather than the 90 watts needed for the current sodium lights. And the new Phillips LED array will deliver 12 years trouble free lighting, saving hugely on maintenance. I have lots of paper to read, and I'll post again on this. My aim is to become insufferably knowledgeable about this. Its a hugely important issue in Powys, which has implications for all lighting authorities across the UK.


Sarah Millington said...

The most appropriate officer would be Steve Holdaway, he is Head of Local & Environmental Services which includes Street Lighting.

Please also do not forget Bryan Davies, he is the Street Lighting Manager and I must say a very helpful man, who is doing a very difficult job to the best of his ability. He is one officer "worth his weight in gold".

I appreciate that might seem an odd thing to say but he is a genuinely nice guy, who is executing a very difficult policy to the best of his ability whilst trying to keep everyone happy, a virtually impossible task.

Let me know if you have any problems and I'll chase them to respond. I'm sure it won't be necessary.

A VERY angry Powys voter! said...

Glyn - well done for trying to understand this matter and reporting back to us.

However, rarely, I have heard such nonsense in all my life from Powys County Council.

There literally is NO excuse for what is happening to our county.

And please note. Did the public have to tolerate this crap last winter?

Answer: No.

Why: Because elections were on the horizon!

Well, I stick by my suggestion from my previous comments. Lets re-run those elections NOW. Let's put this matter to the people of Powys.

This policy was not in ANY party (or independent councillors) manifesto or leaflet. No one would have got elected on this mad and neanderthal platform. This is 2009, not 1909!

We have been electorally swindled and we the people of Powys, deserve much better than this shambolic state of affairs.

Glyn, take the lead on this - play hardball.

Your support would rocket overnight!

No more lame excuses. We pay our dues we want our lights and we want them back now.

Do not be blustered by Council's officers either - they are only following the orders of the clowns who run the Council politically.

There is no excuse for this - now act!

JPT said...

Well I've just been for a walk around Welshpool with my dog (as I do often at night) and there are of course quite a few street lights off, BUT this is saving the county hundreds of thousands of pounds, is obviously stopping 'light polution' and is helping the environment by using less energy.
I know it's a bit darker but I think we've been spoiled by too much night time light in recent years.

A VERY angry Powys voter! said...

We'll see if you still have those views after crime rates go up in your area!

bashful brummie said...

50 Commercial Street
I have been affected in 2 ways, first 2 street lights have been turned off outside my house plunging this part of the street into darkness.
I walk the dog using the riverside path towards the footbridge onto Dolerw.
It is literally pitch black along parts of this path and with pedestrians not having headlights, it is dangerous using these paths at night.

So the lights are off.

My question is why are they returning to where they started in the south to put lights back on in a limited way, surely it would have made more sense to find out where the complaints have come from or have they done that.

If it becomes a choice between street and path lights I choose path lights everytime.

By the time the programme for switching back on reaches this part of Powys the clocks will have changed and the issue disappears until next winter.

Glyn Davies said...

Sarah - I'm told someone named Alistair Knox wrote the very sensible 2005 report. But I usually ask the Chief Executive's office to point me in the right direction.

VAPV - I too want many of these lights back on. I did think that there were rather too many before. JTP has a point. Our opinion was that turning off 33% rather than 67%, after consultation would probably have been acceptable. I'm not known for being easily 'pushed around' by anyone. I will keep you informed as my knowledge of this issue expands.

Glyn Davies said...

VAPV - Risk of crime in just one of the issues. There's also risk of injury - and perhaps worst of all is the effect that the turn off has had on the preparedness of vulnerable people.

Bashful - I believe there have been a huge number of complaints fron everywhere. I've not seen the timetable for revisiting areas - but I am being told that the position has improved in many villages now. I'll ask to see the review timetable and publish it next week.

Sarah Millington said...

VAPV - There a number of councillors who did not vote for the policy of turning out 2 in 3 lights, unfortunately we were outnumbered by the councillors that did vote to turn off 2 in 3 lights.

I and other councillors have made the best of what has been a very difficult policy.

Assuming you know who your local councillor is, can I suggest you check the list and see how they voted when it came to full council on 23rd October 2008. If on the off chance you do not, please let Glyn know which area of Powys you live in and I'm sure he'll forward that to me and I'll let you know.

I suspect that information will help you when considering your thoughts on this issue.

If I can be of any assistance, I am happy to help.

Sarah Millington said...

The review timetable follows the same timetable as the switch off did.

For example Llandrindod lights were turned off 8th Sept 2008, we were first to have the lights turned off, so when the review came around because we had been waiting longest we were reviewed first.

Complaints came from everywhere, all over Powys.

It was decided to follow the same timetable because that was considered to be the fairest way to do it, in terms of how long people had been waiting.

Marci said...

This is not a solicited recommendation. I just like to write about it when I find something good. I bought LEDs from a website lately. They had good service (good phone and email support), excellent FAQs so I knew what I needed, very competitive prices, and their shipping was fast and the LEDs were just as advertised. A pleasure to deal with!

bashful brummie said...

I walked the dog up into Barnfields Estate in Newtown before Christmas and coming down Sycamore Drive it was like Piccadilly Circus, every street light was on. Why? Because there is a children's play area there. I do not follow the logic, no child would be playing there at night but I see the point.

Tonight I have walked across the park as usual by the play area close to the Council buildings. It is pitch black by that play area. Do tell me there is logic in these cuts.

I have also been concerned about the shadows being cast in the town centre, it encourages the 'young people' who hang around Spar because they know there are np police around and no one can see what they are doing clearly. This is particularly true by the Memorial Gallery. Roll on the change of clocks, this winter has certainly shown how bad the lighting is, oh and there are several lights lit around the Town Hall grounds in Newtown, how strange those should be lit.

bashful brummie said...

Philip Glynn
Commercial Street

Please can someone explain why we have a Powys County Council lorry parking by the town hall gates on a Sunday morning, I assume the operator is being paid double time, I always was, not don't tell me they are catching up from Christmas, sorry, not acceptable.

SomeoneI spoke to at church this morning is in her 70's works in town and walks through the park, scared of the pitch blackness by the play area.

A neighbour passed me last night and it was so dark outside the house she didn't speak because she didn't know who I was.

Come on Powys, you turned these lights off, get them back on now!!!

How long before our friend the carer who had the media in a frenzy paying for the street lights himself has to fork out another few hundred quid, shocking state of affairs.