Swindon Local, Business News and What on Wiltshire

Empty Wichelstowe housing plots lit by taxpayers

1st November 2011 by Roger Ogle

calyx multimediaWhilst Swindon Council is saving £20,000 a year by switching off 433 street lights on main roads through inhabited housing areas of the town, it has been burning electricity in an area that won't see houses built on it for years at a cost of £336 a month.

One hundred and forty lighting columns have been installed in West Wichel, in the yet to be started southern development area, on a closed off section of the road that runs from Croft Road to Wootton Bassett Road. They were switched on in August and automatic timers have been switching them on from dusk to dawn ever since.

Apparently its too expensive to switch them off. Council spokesman Richard Freeman said:

"The lights were initially connected to test them, and to do a safety audit of the road under lighting, which had to be done over several nights. We had hoped that at the same time some electrical switching equipment would be fitted, which would allow us to easily switch them all off in one go until the road is actually opened. Unfortunately, this has been delayed.
 
"As a result, the only way they can now be switched off is by physically disconnecting all 140 columns from the mains individually, or by digging a hole to disconnect the whole electrical circuit. In these circumstances it’s far cheaper to leave them on until the switching equipment is fitted, which we hope will be done this week. Each column costs £2.50 a month in energy costs to run, or £336 for them all each month.
 
"The lamps are not on during the day as they have light-sensitive switches on each column and only come on when it is dark, but clearly we’d rather not be paying to light a road that’s not being used. It is frustrating, but with big projects like this delays and snags are inevitable, and this is one of them.
 
"We hope to open the road, which runs from the junction at Croft Road to Wootton Bassett Road, in the next few weeks, once our contractor has finished the work and it can be formally adopted by the council as a public highway."

Images by Richard Wintle of Calyx

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