All the street lights in Ealing are due to be replaced with modern lighting over a five year cycle under a PFI deal signed by the previous, Labour, administration. There was little consultation on the original deal, any consultation being limited to conservation panels in conservation areas. In order to save money a small number of modern “heritage style” columns were procured under the PFI for conservation areas.
Bizarrely one of the places these new heritage columns went in was the post war Cuckoo Estate, a conservation area but one where Victorian style lighting was no use to anyone.
As the PFI got rolled out the new Tory administration was made aware by various residents/campaign groups that the loss of heritage street lighting was of concern to residents, notably the SEAL campaign. Council leader, Jason Stacey, has put a deal of effort into meeting residents and taking their concerns on board, see report of meeting with SEAL last year. As a part of the budgeting process the council have made funds available (Â£456,000) to save as many of the original columns as are salvageable. The concept we came up with was to concentrate these in a heritage area adjacent to Ealing’s central parks and Pitzhanger Manor. This would have the benefit of saving the lights and enhancing the council’s investment in Pitzhanger Manor.
At the start of March the council announced:
- Â£2.821 million investment towards the restoration of Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery
- Â£456,000 investment to restore the antique-style heritage lighting and bring it up to modern standards
- Â£300,000 investment to improve facilities in Walpole and Lammas Parks.
We are keen to ensure that all areas of the borough are well lit and we should bear in mind that for every vocal street lamp hugger there will be ten people who will quietly welcome the feeling of reassurance and security that higher light levels will bring. According to our recent survey resident satisfaction in street lighting has risen from 29% to 72% since 2004 (coinciding with the streetlighting replacement programme). To achieve our objective less streets will have the refurbished heritage lights as we will have to increase the number of lights per street to achieve the required light levels, we will also lose some columns in the process which cannot be refurbished due to damage or wear and tear. This means that however we allocate the refurbished lights some streets will lose their old columns to populate neighbouring streets – this is one of those issues where someone will end up unhappy. Some people in Northfield or Hanwell may feel that their few lights should remain in their immediate area. That would still mean that one road would lose its lights to populate the neighbouring road and the heritage lighting would be reduced to the odd street here and there rather than a single district where it will have an impact. For those roads with a majority of heritage columns funds have been made available to give them the modern heritage style columns – like Mattock Lane which looks great.
The Hanwell activists have effectively gone from not talking to the council at all on this issue to getting their pictures in the paper and trying to physically obstruct people going about their lawful business. What was great about dealing with the SEAL people was that however emotional they were about their streets they have bought their concerns to councillors and have always been happy to talk – and Jason has put a lot of time, and cash, into meeting them half way. The Hanwell people, led by a Labour activist, have gone straight from silent to nuclear at the implementation of Labour’s PFI. Jason’s efforts to come up with a workable solution have got Ealing in the news for the wrong reasons. Don’t believe the hype.