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Bonkers Blog September 2017

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7 September (Part 2) - Bexley bunglers may rule but perseverance pays

Bexley Council first discussed switching from Sodium to LED street lights in February 2015. At the same Places Scrutiny meeting they said they had in mind switching off some street lights altogether between midnight and 5 a.m. Their webpage about it was linked from Bonkers at the time but the Council had to delete the page when the governing party decided to deny any such thing and tell residents it was a Labour idea - but you will have had enough Tory lies for one day, so let’s leave that one for now.

Welling was used as guinea pig for testing LED lights and I went to take a look. My first reaction was that everywhere was horribly gloomy and that was my initial reaction when my own road was switched to LED. Suddenly I found myself fumbling for the key hole in my own front door.

My camera said the light level was well down and under pressure from one resident the Council confirmed the Lumen rating was less than half what it was before.

Despite that, Bexley Council insists they provide a brighter and safer environment and in my opinion they do give out a much more pleasant light. I have no reason to disbelieve Councillor Leader Teresa O’Neill when she says that people are keen to tell her how wonderful the new lights are.

But not everyone is happy with them. While I struggled to find my key hole after dark some people were kept awake all night by the searchlight streaming through their bedroom windows and disturbing their pets.

One kept me in the picture throughout and thanks to his dogged perseverance everything turned out well in the end even if it did reveal a level of amateurism at Bexley Council.

His first email to me about it was on 8th March 2017 when he said Bexley Council was refusing to talk about his lighting problem on the phone and he must write in, so he did. It was quickly acknowledged but following that - silence.

After some prompting he was told that the lighting designer was being consulted. Much more recent developments suggest that wasn’t true; a bit like when Andrew Bashford told me that the Transport Research Laboratory guidance had been followed over road narrowing. I knew that wasn’t true because my son was TRL’s head of transport safety at the time.

ShieldIt took a further three months for anything to happen but F.M. Conway came along in June and fitted a blacked out parking restriction notice at the top of the lamp column.

It’s the sort of thing you or I might fit with an element of finger crossing and it didn’t have any significant effect. Somehow or other it made another resident’s situation worse. (Note: The shield was not in the position shown at that time.)

The complainant asked for someone to come out after dark and assess the problem for themselves.

The request was refused because it was mid Summer and it wasn’t dark during office hours. Bexley Council preferred dreaming up Heath Robinson gadgets in the dark so to speak.

Instead Bexley Council fiddled with the position of the shield but to no effect other than to swell F.M. Conway’s coffers.

On the morning of the last day of June a man from Bexley came out to look at the shield and stared at it for five minutes before going away. What he learned is anyone’s guess.

Mid July brought another complaint and on the 20th Conway fiddled with the shield again.

August saw yet another complaint about the three abortive attempts to shield houses from the glare and this time Bexley Council agreed to look at the problem after dark.

LED lampProgress at last, Their own eye balls convinced Bexley Council that they should ask the real lighting designers, the manufacturers, for advice not their own back room boys. At the end of August they came and fitted two little accessory grids (Photo 2). Problem solved.

Why didn’t they do that six months ago; it would have saved a lot of money?

If you are troubled by an excess of stray light and your lamp looks like the one below, then there is a solution. Don’t just suffer, do something about it.

Both lamps shown are in Townley Road.

LED lamp


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