Bright sparks at council pay £8,000 to change two lightbulbs

July 22, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A council was slammed today for taking three years to change two LIGHTBULBS at a cost of £8,000 – for health and safety reasons.

The Church Hall and the village green in picturesque Glemsford, near Sudbury, Suffolk, were plunged into darkness after two street lamps stopped working in 2007.

Parish councillors and locals concerned for vulnerable elderly residents who are scared to leave their homes in the dark have fought to get the lights repaired ever since.

But after inspecting the lights, workers from Suffolk County Council said that they were unable to fix them due to a ‘G39′ health and safety issue.

The council claims their proximity to power lines and trees make it too dangerous to use a simple ladder to replace the bulbs as suggested by residents.

And they have now told Glemsford Parish Council that they will need to be moved and new lights rewired at a safer location – at a total cost of £8,000.

Frustrated parish councillors are being forced to fork out the cash to get work completed, more than ten per cent of their annual precept budget of £70,000.

Angry residents have slammed ”jobsworth” councillors who have refused to fix the lights on safety grounds leaving older members of the community in danger.

Len Young, 76, Babergh District Councillor for Glemsford and a retired court worker, said the council had taken health and safety too far and were intent on wasting money.

He said: ”It’s another case of council jobsworths. Someone could have just got up there on a ladder three years ago and changed a bulb but of course it’s never that simple.

”Apparently they have to divert the power source 40 feet away to a new light but I can’t understand it when they already have a power source going to the light that is there.

ӣ8,000 is a lot of money for a small village and it could have gone towards something positive to benefit the many clubs and societies we have.

”Instead we are going to have to tighten our belts and save which could lead to other services being cut. It’s a real shame.”

Ann Hamblin, 73, is a committee member of the Women’s Institute who hold monthly meetings at the Old School Hall in Glemsford.

She said: ”This has been going on since 2007. It’s one of these merry-go-rounds where people keep passing the buck.

”The cost keeps escalating and now it’s excessive. It’s a vital light for the village because there are two village halls on either side of the road and it’s a dark spot.

”It’s preventing people from coming and pursuing their hobbies. We have fully paid up members who rarely come to meetings because it’s not worth the hassle in the dark.”

Resident Pauline Currie, 54, a retired accountant and carer, lives opposite the light next to the hall and is concerned for elderly neighbours.

She said: ”The council are so concerned about the safety of people up ladders that they seem to have forgotten about the safety of vulnerable old people in the village.

”Several residents on our street – including an elderly lady – have had their bins stolen and destroyed twice this year.

”The street is pitch black without the lights and I really do feel that someone is going to hurt themselves if this isn’t sorted out.”

Emma Boon, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said that residents should be able to expect better services.

She said: ”It is ridiculous that the council has kept residents in the dark for three years and is now making excuses.

”People living in Suffolk have seen their council tax double in the last ten years, but this is yet more evidence that the service locals are getting hasn’t improved in line with these steeply rising costs.

”Taxpayers expect the local council to deliver value for money too, and with such a huge sum for a couple of light bulbs it doesn’t seem like they’re getting it.”

Work to dig trenches, move power supplies and rewire the lights will now commence on August 9 and is expected to take two weeks.

A spokeswoman said Suffolk county council were fully aware of the problem and had arranged for replacement works to be carried out.

They said G39 Workplace Electrical Safety guidelines for Local Authority workers prevents work being carried out due to nearby trees and power lines.

She said: ”We sent engineers from EDF Energy who reported that because of the age of the lights they are beyond repair and need to be replaced.

”The cost is around £8,000. This includes the trenching work, not just the replacement works.”

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