Lamppost levy false alarm

NWSeveral residents involved in Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Cambridge have been warned by police that they will in future have to register signs that they fix to lampposts, and pay £25 for each one, plus surveying costs.

Such charges have not been imposed.

In some areas, you do have to register signs that are fixed to lampposts, in the interests of safety.

But not in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire County Council has not authorised Balfour Beatty to make charges, and councillors have not approved such charges.

 

UPDATE (18th June 2016)

We have pursued this at the Council and it transpires that an officer gave an instruction to Balfour Beatty when he shouldn’t have done. That has now been countermanded and we have received the following advice:

Thank you for forwarding on the residents’ concerns. We have no current or future plans to charge Neighbourhood Watch Associations for signs which are already in place and I have confirmed this with Balfour Beatty. Neighbourhood Watch Associations are not subject to fees for the installation of new Neighbourhood Watch signs at this time and if we do consider introducing charges in the future, Balfour Beatty and ourselves will notify Neighbourhood Watch Associations as to the requirements of any new installations.

Hopefully this has provided you with reassurance about the situation and I would be grateful if you could forward this information on to any concerned residents that come forward. Neither Balfour Beatty or ourselves have officially issued any information in relation to this but I will contact Neighbourhood Watch leaders to let them know the above.

This doesn’t mean the idea of the charges is dead – the Conservatives on the County Council may seek to get the plan agreed at committee. We in the Liberal Democrat group will be voting against, but any feedback from you would be helpful.

Guided Busway lights are going in!

Cones for the trenches for the lights

Cones for the trenches for the lights

Amanda with one of the new light columns

The new lights are in hand!

At long last, work has begun to instal lights on the bridleway along the Guided Busway.

This is the culmination of a campaign that started in 2012, with a LightTheCycleway! petition presented to the Conservative County Council Cabinet requesting lighting on the southern section of the Busway, between the railway station and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Trenching work began on Monday near the Hauxton Road bridge, and column positions have been marked out this week. The plan is to complete the lighting by the autumn, in time for the darker evenings. Here’s a County Council document with more information.

See background on the reasons for the lighting.

 

Cambridge South Area: streetlighting Q&A plus new layout for Cherry Hinton High Street

The next South Area meeting is at St John’s Church Hills Road on Monday 30th March and here is the agenda.

The County Council’s streetlighting contractor Balfour Beatty will be sending a representative to explain the lighting contract, and answer questions about replacements in Queen Edith’s.

There will be reports on changes to the road layout in Cherry Hinton and Hills Road, and environmental services activity. Finally, the committee will vote on grants to community groups.

The meeting is open to the public and there is a slot at the beginning of the meeting to ask questions of councillors. Sometimes questions can be answered on the spot, and if questions highlight issues that need to be addressed, they will be taken up by councillors after the meeting.

Streetlighting contractor told to halt Hills Road works pending consultation

Cambridgeshire County Council’s streetlighting contractor Belfour Betty will be replacing streetlights in Hills Road, to conform to new British Standards for traffic routes. There will be no fewer lights than at present, but the new columns will be further from the kerb, and spaced out differently.

The streetlighting works are being synchronized with the construction of the segregated cycle lanes. This makes good sense, as it avoids having the road dug up twice, and all the associated disruption.

What I am not happy about is that the County Council’s contractor, Balfour Beatty, is digging holes and trenches in the road before consultation. I have taken this up at the County Council, and Balfour Beatty will now cease work until consultation has taken place with Hills Road residents.

Balfour Beatty’s website shows plans for the new lighting scheme: www.lightingcambridgeshire.com/news and you can also view them here:

If you would find it easier to look at a printed version, please get in touch with me. If you have any comments about the changes, please let us have them by Tuesday 17th February so that we can give feedback to the contractor before they make their firm proposals and commence formal consultation.

Next phase of streetlight replacements in Queen Edith’s

Cambridgeshire County Council’s streetlighting contractor Balfour Beatty will soon be returning to Queen Edith’s for the next phase of streetlight replacements. This is part of a countywide PFI programme to change all the streetlights in Cambridgeshire to a new, more energy-efficient type of light that will deliver energy savings of nearly 50%. The new lights are taller and we are told they illuminate a wider area.

The Conservatives, who ran the Council at the time the contract was set up, gave us a rigid contract, with very little flexibility on issues such as removals and light types, but with loose provisions other areas, such as standards of service. The councillor who drew up the contract, has said in public, ‘If I had the chance to rewrite that contract, I would.’

Worse still, the Council agreed to a reduction of the total number of lights by 10%, and many smaller streets are losing more than that. Although this is leaving dark patches in many streets (such as Hinton Avenue picturd above), Liberal Democrat proposals to have lights reinstated in badly hit streets have been voted down by the other parties on the Council.

The next area to be visited by Balfour Beatty is Hills Road/ Babraham Road and streets off Hills Road such as the Red Cross Lane area and Luard Road. You can see what is planned at http://www.lightingcambridgeshire.com/news.htm, or download a plan:Hills Road main carriageway (ie not the slip road)

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Access Hills Rd -V11

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Babraham Road V1

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Luard Road V5

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Greenlands V4

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Red Cross Ln – V2

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Stansgate Av V3

Please let me know if you would prefer to look at a printed plan.

The county Council’s lighting contractor Balfour Beatty is working with the cycle lanes contractor to synchronize their activities on Hills Road.

Balfour Beatty — lighting contract is not working that brilliantly

Has your street had new lighting yet?

We are in Phase II of the County Council streetlight replacement programme, the PFI which replaces all the lights in the county with new ones, in the interests of cutting energy costs by 50%. Phase II is going a bit better than Phase I, but I am hearing about lots of problems.

While the idea is excellent – new lights using half as much energy – it is being badly handled by the contractors, Balfour Beatty, to whom the Council has handed responsibility for communication and consultation with residents as well as implementing the programme. Plans of which lights are staying or going are highly technical and you need to look at them on line – not possible for everyone. Notice is short, while if you contact their Customer Services Department you get an auto-message promising an answer in ten working days – locking the door after the horse has bolted in many cases.

The contract was written a long time ago, and failed to take into account the needs of vulnerable people, the historic nature of our city, and had no ‘wiggle room’. The Tory councillor in charge of Highways infrastructure admitted yesterday, ‘If I had the opportunity to rewrite that contract, I would.’

I am concerned about one particular street in our area, where a light will be removed outside the home of someone with a disability – in a road which has had more than its fair share of burglaries. There are cracked pavements and removing the light could put the safety of disabled and elderly residents at risk.

Residents want to see the light retained or others repositioned so that it doesn’t leave such a big gap, but there is little room for flexibility.

And in Blinco Grove, one of the city’s 19th century streets, the elegant cast iron street lights are being replaced with modern ones as a safety measure. Residents value the distinctiveness of the old lights and believe that if they must be replaced, the new lights should be in keeping with the historic street. The lights are scheduled to be removed on Friday (21st Feb), which leaves no time for residents to respond to the consultation, especially as many families are on school half term.

I have asked for the removal to be delayed so people can be briefed on the need for replacement and give them time to identify funding for lights of a more traditional style.