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Ealing and Northfield

Stacey responds to SEAL

Some Northfield residents have been upset by the proposed or actual replacement of Edwardian street lights with modern “hockey stick” columns by the Council. Northfield councillors have been receiving a number of e-mails from residents, especially those of Salisbury Road. There is even a group called Save Ealing’s Antique Lampposts (SEAL) apparently. This issue has been discussed by the Conservative group on the council and here is the latest from council leader, Jason Stacey:

We are trying to work through this issue as we speak but there are some complex technical issues as well as financial ones which we are trying to work through and to be frank these are not proving easy.

As you are probably aware, the previous administration entered into a PFI contract with EDF to modernise all street lighting in the borough. This contract is effectively coming to the end of the first year of a four year programme. For most roads in the borough this new street lighting will take the form of the ‘hockey stick’ style lighting but as part of the contract some roads were allocated the new ‘heritage style’ lighting. Needless to say upon reviewing this, this applies literally to only a few roads in the contract and does not cover many of the roads with the old style heritage lamps which exist at present.

The new administration has asked for the costs to be drawn up which would enable us in these roads to install the new heritage style lamps instead of the hockey style. The costings we have received back is that it will cost £800,000 per year over the life of the four year contract – a total of £3.2 million. There is undoubtedly therefore an issue with this cost as effectively £800,000 represents around 10% of our available total capital expenditure for the coming financial year.

Many residents have also suggested to us that the existing heritage lighting be retained; perhaps with some restoration work on them to bring them back to former glory. This seemed to me on the face of it a good option as we could maybe escape the costings set out above and set aside some budget for improvement work to the existing lighting stock.

Unfortunately, it seems upon further investigation that this too has problems. One of the reasons why the previous administration undertook this PFI contract was that our street lighting stock did not meet EU regulations surrounding the quality, height and strength of lighting that it supposed to be emitted. We are required as a council to conform with these regulations and one of the problems raised is that we cannot get the old style heritage lighting (whatever we do to modify it) to at the end of the process to conform to these EU regulations.

Work is still continuing on all of this, but I just wanted to highlight to you some of the issues we have been having with this and we are working on possible options on the way forward. It may be that after everything there is no way round this on contractual, financial and regulation grounds, but I know that this will not be welcomed by residents in some areas and, as you say, may take something away from the distinct character of the area. It is also possible, for example, that we move all affected roads to the end of the programme to enable us to gather the one off cost together to meet the cost of having heritage instead of hockey style lighting. I hope early in the New Year to give you a definitive answer on where we are going with this.

2 replies on “Stacey responds to SEAL”

Ealing Council exists to carry out the wishes of the local residents and businesses which fund it. Councillors exist to reflect the wishes of their Ward residents and businesses. When the Council decided to outsource the replacement of 14,000 lampposts to a French company in 2005, it did not ask residents whether they would like their 100 year old lampposts to be replaced with taller lampposts whose lanterns shine directly into their front bedrooms and whose light is substantially blocked by our beautiful trees in the summer. From the amount of passion and feedback that SEAL is receiving from residents, it seems Councillors may well have been asleep on their watch when the PFI deal was conceived and concocted in 2004/5.

The SEAL group aims to raise the money from the Council ie to get the Council to spend our money on complying with residents’ wishes.

The ‘rest of Ealing’ (whoever they might be) may not care less on a range of funded Council services eg child-less adults on education at schools; and well-healed property owners in elegant parts of W5 on the wretched housing to be found on the South Acton and Green Man estates. The Council must attempt to collectively care about all our interests.

I also don’t think that ‘the rest of Ealing’ is solely pre-occupied with house prices.

Eric Leach, West ealing Neighbours SEAL Representative

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