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Hundreds of lights on Cumbria's footways to be removed

Villages across rural Cumbria could be plunged into darkness after it emerged hundreds of footway lights will be removed.

John Perkins photo
John Perkins

The lamps are those situated on Electricity North West poles across the Eden, Allerdale and Copeland areas.

The utility company took a decision in 2011 that, following the death of a BT engineer who was working on a “joint user pole”, they could not guarantee the health and safety of third parties.

It has therefore ruled that as-and-when wooden poles carrying live electricity wires come up for replacement or repair, they will “remove all third party apparatus”.

This essentially means removing hundreds of lamps belonging to the district and borough councils on footways across the council. ENW also has no obligation to inform councils when it removes lights.

Although the threat is not immediate – Electricity North West carries out a rolling plan of improvements over 15 years – the councils are already saying they simply cannot afford to replace the lights.

Eden estimates it will cost in excess of £1 million to replace all of the 681 lights on ENW poles, plus an additional £320,000 to £470,000 is expected to be needed to replace obsolete equipment and bring other lights in line with European legislation.

It is now consulting with 27 parish councils over the lights in their parish, to determine which lights “are the most important”.

Paul Foot, Eden's director of corporate and legal services, said: “We have not made a decision to remove any of those lights.

“Electricity North West may remove their lights tomorrow or in three years, but we are looking at them all and giving parishes the opportunity to say why they think some lights should be retained.”

John Perkins, 72, from Gamblesby, is chairman of Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association.

“We do have a few street lights but in somewhere like Gamblesby for example it is very dark,” he said. “For people coming home from the village hall it is an issue. We understand Eden Council has to find savings but we are putting vulnerable people at risk.”

Allerdale council confirmed it has about 2,000 footway lights scattered across the borough, mostly in rural communities, but cannot say how many could be under threat.

A spokeswoman said: “There is no statutory requirement for Allerdale to provide footway lighting, therefore due to potential costs becoming phenomenal, policy is that footway lighting will not be replaced.”

Copeland council has about 100 lamps on ENW poles and is currently not proposing to take action.

Have your say

Simply telling people that they act at their own risk is not acceptable in law. Risk assessments must be carried out and ultimately it is the owners responsibility to ensure that safety standards are maintained. Groups of people you must account for in such assessments are both those there legally & otherwise, members of the public and anyone who may have access to the posts or the immediate vicinity. That includes other companies employees who are using your equipment.

Posted by Mac on 26 March 2013 at 02:28

This smacks of political ineptitude in the face of Health and Safety moronicism.
Rather than seek to "guarantee the safety of third parties ENW should simply tell those third parties that they climb those poles at their own risk - how hard is that.

Posted by Eco Bonkers on 25 March 2013 at 16:37

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