Clearly Croydon Tories are embarrassed by the problems experienced with the street lighting replacement programme. Labour’s Cllr Bonner told the Council meeting on 2 December that there had been ‘delays, technical issues and persistent problems with no street lighting for sometimes weeks on end. Despite previously published timetables for the installation on a ward by ward basis there now seems to be a scattergun approach to the programme’.
Cabinet member Phil Thomas did not provide the information Cllr Bonner requested of ‘details for every ward that show when street works commenced/will commence, when they are/were due to be completed, the percentage that have been successfully connected, the estimated completion date and the number of complaints received during the installation process’.
Thomas simply said that the ‘core investment programme continues to progress around the borough by a ward by ward basis. Unfortunately due to unforeseen engineering difficulties upon UK Power Networks cable network this has caused a delay in the completion of this work in wards such as New Addington and Fieldway. These wards are due to be completed by the end of December 1913.’
Complexity of Programme
The street lighting replacement programme is a complex one. This is partly due to the fact that existing street lighting runs on two different systems.
Cllr Thomas told Labour’s Stuart Collins ‘The street lights in the northern two thirds of the borough so Purley northwards is connected to a dedicated cable network known as “Croydon Cable Network” this is a switched network which needs to be abandoned during the replacement programme, to abandon such a network is a logistical challenge as it needs to be decommissioned section by section which involve a number of streets at a time.’
Why Old Columns Remain as Stumps
‘(T)here are a number of stump columns remaining in-situ as these act as feeder pillars for the neighbouring streets which have not been replaced as yet. Once the limb of the old network is no longer needed this will see the corresponding feeder pillars being removed. Skanksa, UKPowerNetworks continue to work on the stump decommissioning programme and every effort is being made to minimise the time in which feeder pillars are kept in-situ.’ ‘At this present time it is not possible to say on a feeder pillar basis when exactly they will be removed…’
Work Programme Stages
The replacement programme involves several stages of work. What follows is an attempt to explain it based on answers to questions at the Croydon Council meeting on Monday 2 December, the experience in Oakhill Rd in Norbury, and explanations supplied by Skanksa to affected Oakhill residents.
Stage 1. A leaflet informs residents of the approximate time period when the street light replacement works will commence.
Stage 2. The approximate location of the new columns are marked in with a cross yellow circle.
Stage 3. Residents concerned about the placing of columns against their boundary walls/fences should contact the Council and Skanska to discuss the matter and negotiate the columns to be nearer the kerb. This was the outcome in respect of 2 lamps in Oakhill Rd and the moving of a third nearer the entrance to the local community hall.
Stage 4. Holes and dug and the new columns put in.
Stage 5. A hole is dug by each column in order to given UK Power access to its electricity cable so it can instal a junction box to connect the new columns to its electricity cable. The new column lights start operating. The old street light will continue to work.
Stage 6. The hole is then backfilled and concreted. This ‘Usually takes up to three days after the LC are removed/Jointed for the reinstatement to commence. The reinstatement will be done over three phases, Backfill, Concrete & Mastic. The last two may take longer than usual due to current weather conditions.’ (Marc Zahra, the Public Liaison Officer for Skanska, email 27 November.)
Stage 7. The concrete is then tarmaced (mastic).
Stage 8. ‘The new street lights then start to operate alongside the old ones. ‘Once the associated new lights have been energised and connected to our CMS system we can then turn off the old street lighting.’ It takes ‘approximately 100 hours burn time for the lamps to achieve their correct level of illumination. Decommissioning of the old lamps will not affect the new lighting.’ (Mark Zahra)
Stage 9. The old street light columns will either be removed or cut down to a stump – see explanation above.
Stage 10. Any pavement repair needed because of the removal of columns will be carried out.
Stage 10. The stumps will be removed and final pavement repairs carried out.
Addiscombe Street Lighting Failure
On 13 November the street light of several streets in Addiscombe failed. Cllr Thomas told the Council meeting that a Croydon Cable Network cable fault in Addiscombe Court Rd caused the problem. The failure was reported the same day to UK Power Networks, and the fault found and rectified on 19th November. He had ‘tasked officers to escalate the Councils concern with UK Power Networks to see if the service can be improved.’
The former Labour Council (to May 2006) stopped funding festive decorations around the borough as according to Cllr Thomas because Labour ‘were keen for local businesses to fund them.’
‘However through our street lighting contract we will provide the mechanism for the businesses to attach the decorations on the street lighting columns, maintain them while they are up and remove them at no cost. The councils street lighting team sent out a reminder to all district centres some weeks back asking if they wanted to arrange for festive decorations to be installed this year and no response has been received from the businesses from South Norwood High Street, so no decorations are planned to be installed.’ Similarly no response was received from the businesses in London Rd except for a request from the Town Centre BID to install decorations in London Rd from West Croydon Station to Oakfield Road, which have been installed.’
The Minutes of the joint Street Lighting Joint Committee with Lewisham Council held on 16 October have not yet been posted onto the Council’s website, therefore it is not yet publicly known what they decided. The progress report considered at the meeting can be seen at https://secure.croydon.gov.uk/akscroydon/images/att2777.pdf. Unfortunately a lot of the information combines figures for both Boroughs rather than separately.
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