The Lights Are On But No One Is Home

Wirral Leaks reader writes to us with their observations about the twilight zone :
Twilight Zone
Maybe you can tell me.. in an age of austerity , when I have to contribute to my child’s pens and books in Foxfield school . A great school that has to withstand its council cuts.
Tell me why for six months the council in a heat wave , in the lightest nights and days in history we 24 /7 illuminate Hamilton Square.
I have asked the question, emailed may concerns but nothing, could you sort it please?
It would appear they listen to you!
All day long they burn .. they are not even energy efficient bulbs from an environmentally fake news council.
And the devastation created by the illumination to this conservation area is a living scandal .Where are the conservation friends of Hamilton Square? Are they asleep at the wheel?
Up to now, the bill is in its 1000s . Heads should roll but they won’t.
Only on the Wirral !!!!!
Twilight Zone 2
Wirral Council – listen to us?
What a wonderful world that would be!

20 thoughts on “The Lights Are On But No One Is Home

  1. I am pleased that this issue has been raised independently of the Hamilton Square Conservation Area Advisory Committee. It shows that there is a reason for us to exist and proves that it is not only members of the committee who are concerned about these issues. I shall raise this issue as a formal complaint at our next committee meeting in September. As I understand the situation, a political decision was taken a couple of years ago to keep the lights on. Raising this issue as a complaint will force the council to explain its decision. The multi-coloured floodlights are not compatible with the listing description of the Grade 1 Listed buildings but planning permission is not required for the highways authority to install such lights, so there is very little recourse for those who want rid of them. Thank you once again for raising this issue.

    Philip Barton
    Chair, Hamilton Square Conservation Area Advisory Committee

  2. As a former professional lighting designer who worked for an in-house, experienced, professional design service at Civic Way, Bebington back in the day, I’d say the council should never have followed the outsourcing trend, like good little sheep, farming out Highways / Lighting Design and Maintenance lock, stock and barrel to external contractors who’ve proven themselves to be:

    A. Corrupt
    B. Incompetent
    C. Finance-driven
    D. Responsive to “business needs” as opposed to “public service”
    E. Located too far away to:
    1. give a shit or;
    2. provide a local, tailored service geared to the Wirral public’s needs or;
    3. react quickly enough to provide a timely response to emergency situations

    On a purely technical level though, not knowing how these lighting columns are supplied electrically, it seems to me that there’s been one or more photocell failures. When a photocell fails it defaults to the ON position.

    But when you have a contractor who is deficient for any and all of the above reasons, you could sit and wait for months, as will probably occur here, before the situation is put right and the “finance-driven” arseholes at both contractor AND council counter-intuitively funnel our council tax money straight down the drain.

  3. p.s. Before posting that last message I hadn’t read Philip Barton’s comment above and must say I’ve never heard of such a situation in the past where ‘political decisions’ are made to keep lights burning during the day. If this has been steamrollered through by Wirral politicians, there would be no advantage gained technically, lighting-wise and it would serve no purpose but to deliberately squander our council tax money.

    I’m also struggling to see what political advantage this might serve.

    • I was approached sometime ago by a very proud Labour party member who boasted that he was the one who persuaded Cllr Jean Stapleton to ensure that all of the lights in Hamilton Square (including the Christmas lights in the trees on the plaza) are kept on around the clock, day-in, day-out. He thinks it is wonderful and makes a big difference to the ambience of the square all year round. However, I have not had this boast verified by Cllr Stapleton.

      Philip Barton
      Chair, Hamilton Square Conservation Area Advisory Committee

      • Once again we’re reminded that some councillors seem to have a ‘God Complex’
        Oh to have the power to flick your fingers and say : ‘Let there be light…’ and there was light 24/7!

    • I have a horrible feeling they’ll refuse you this on ‘vexatious’ grounds Paul. I watched the way they refused the Halliday questions (made by another esteemed contributor) on the use of the term, “that man”, so they’ll likely jump on your last paragraph. It is hard though, trying to control the urge to tell it as it is and most unfair we have to be nice in the face of the oncoming daily shower of facially directed urine.

      • Fair enough. It’s not really an important request but if they do, I’ll state quite truthfully that the final paragraph was a rhetorical flourish directed towards long-suffering members public, done to provide some measure of levity, and quite separate from the “meat” of the request which was business-like, sober and factual!

  4. I would like to add a note of caution. Cllr Stapleton has neither confirmed nor denied the report made to me that she is responsible for the order to keep the lights burning in Hamilton Square day and night.

  5. This issue of street lights has caused me so much anger over the last TWO years you will not believe. I am now practically at the end of my tether with their serial incompetence and don’t know who else to turn to. Ever since I logged several faulty lights across Wallasey in May 2016 (some of which were LED), the list of broken and faulty lights and columns continues to grow – the total is now approaching around 300 – and NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM has been repaired to this day – save for a few desultory new LED columns on a selection of residential streets, most of which, tellingly, were not even broken or faulty to begin with. For the last TWO years I have sent over 100 emails detailing the broken locations and columns, followed these up with countless phone calls, taken it to the Local Government Ombudsman citing the council’s appalling failure to communicate or answer my queries within three to six months, then raised it numerous times with councillors and even MPs, sat in on a full council meeting last December to grill that clueless bumbling buffoon Cllr. ‘Stupid’ Whittingham over this, and even now – almost going into the THIRD year of waiting – they have still refused to give me reasons why these lights are continually being neglected….much less offer any timescale of them being sorted out.

    Their current replacement programme is apparently happening on the more affluent west side of the Wirral first, which is scandalous, thus this suggests that Wallasey and Birkenhead may have to wait until 2021 before these broken lights and columns (many of them since 2015 or even earlier) get repaired or replaced. By then I have a feeling the budget will run out due to them wasting it all on lights that clearly do not need repairing in the first place. I have taken HUNDREDS of photos of these locations and have bombarded so-called senior lighting officers Shaun Brady and Luke Rippon at Streetscene with them but even after a futile face to face meeting I had with them in May this year (two days before the local elections) – which didn’t solve or address anything except offer them the chance to patronise me with their spin and lies – the grand tally of lights replaced on my list comes to …..THREE ….out of over 297 lights!!!

    So many dangerous roads with lights out you will not believe: Wallasey Bridge Road, Poulton Bridge, Oxton Road, Duke Street Bridge towards Birkenhead, Liscard Road, etc…. plus streets where the lights have been left on for a year so far – Kings Parade New Brighton, Seacombe Ferry business centre car park, Liscard Way, etc…. It’s absolutely unbelievable that a council can be THIS utterly useless and inept.

      • Seriously, it is utterly, utterly draining the amount of emails and phone call enquiries I have made to them over this one straightforward and ACHIEVABLE issue. It is making me ill because I have tried everything…I mean EVERYTHING – to make them see sense but even the councillors can’t do anything to speed up the process. All they do is make excuses and excuses.
        By way of comparison, I lived in Stockport for 27 years [and only moved back here in Feb 2016 – I wish I didn’t now, honestly] and at their worst they take 6 weeks to two months to fix a broken street light if you report it to them. Even now with huge budget cuts they still can do this. They at least make the effort to communicate and give you correspondence to let you know when the work is due to be done. Wirral cannot – and will not – entertain the notion of – gasp – TALKING or WRITING to their residents. I get accused of being a ‘vexatious complainant’ and they then ignore all my emails and calls and instruct everybody else to do the same. Can you believe that? What sort of arrogant conceited morons are they? Phil Davies should be held accountable for this total and utter disgraceful farce. Do they want more people to die on the roads through accidents before they sort these problems out? How totally impervious are these people to criticism?

        I have already started a new direct action leafleting campaign (and also as of yesterday a Facebook page] called SAFE STREETS WIRRAL – putting leaflets which I printed myself through doors of residents on streets where the lights have been neglected telling them to act now or risk being in the dark for the next THREE years…..I have also printed off a series of photo montages showing the disgraceful state of many of these broken street lights/columns and also roads and pavements full of weeds and potholes, etc…. and these may yet be attached on lamp posts as A3 posters to draw people’s attention to the useless council. I am also considering producing loads of new stickers on fluorescent adhesive paper to stick on all the broken lights I come across…..effectively ridiculing the council’s previous ones which were stuck on lights stating ‘This street light has been repaired by Wirral Council in March 2016’ (hilariously, a fair number of these with stickers on are now broken or leaning….without lamps on them!)

        Many letters about this from me have also been printed in Wirral Globe over the last 2 years, and I send updates to their chief reported Craig Manning regularly.

      • We agree – it shouldn’t be this hard but we applaud your tenacity and creativity.
        We’re worn out with it and we think it’s too entrenched to ever change.

      • Hi Simon,

        In better times, when the council worked under the ethos of “public service” there was a bespoke lighting design team based in Civic Way, Bebington, right in the heart of Wirral. Shaun Brady worked there as a highways professional – NOT street lighting. Since then, thanks to the general trend in councils across the country, the flag of “Business Needs” has been raised and those unlucky or stupid or complicit enough to remain have become slaves in the service of this shite.

        The professional lighting design person was Kevin Ellis. But he’s been allowed to retire. Great … and good luck to him because he oversaw a very proficient service for many years that responded quickly to public calls right across Wirral without favouring any particular area. I worked in his Bebington team – a small but dedicated one – and was proud to do so up until the point I had to blow the whistle, which I won’t go into here but it’s covered on my blog.

        Subsequent to mine, Kevin Ellis and others’ departure, the design and fault-reporting side of things has been downgraded, farmed out to God knows where (design and maintenance to Winsford, some say), given the ‘sticking plaster’ treatment, and has ended up a far cry from what it used to be with the stupendous rise in street lighting outages you allude to being the direct result.

        Shaun Brady or a.n.other may have become a fully-qualified street lighting design engineer for all I know, but somehow I doubt it. Money tends to be invested in spin rather than officer training.

        The last I heard, Kevin Ellis’ street lighting professional and supervisory duties had been taken over lock, stock and barrel by an electrician. Basically, an axe has been taken to a once-proud service and while the bean-counters and money people tot up the financial advantages – if there ARE any – the public are left to stumble around in the dark and deal with the consequences.

        All very sad, but all foreseeable and avoidable. I’m not sure that bringing it all back in house will resolve such a poorly-managed basket case. I mean, the incompetent, hard right Labour, controlling councillors and their nodding dog senior officers are going nowhere very quickly are they? We’re stuck with them.

  6. Disheartening to read this for certain. Honestly, the whole saga has left me completely demoralised and deflated to the point of no return except to prepare to move away again. I love the cynical way in which Wirral council’s streetscene – just TWO days before the local election this May – and ONE day after my wasteful meeting with Shaun Brady and Simon Fox at Streetscene in Cheshire LInes (pointless discussion which didn’t solve anything, incidentally, just be a party to their never ending spin – they were not interested in giving me reasons or answers to questions I have been asking them for two years) – dealt with two lights in my immediate neighbourhood – which I reported to them over and over again but which remained neglected for god only knows how long (two years, and ten months respectively) were suddenly replaced with new columns and lights in the space of 24 hours by Jones Lighting – which was an unprecedentedly rapid turnaround. They were even CONNECTED UP AND WORKING TOO unlike so many before them which were fitted but left for up to SEVEN months before being switched on….

    I assume they did this because an election was looming so they felt the need to come up with this token desultory gesture of quickly fixing two lights so as to get my vote. That didn’t work because I effectively f***ed off the acting labour candidate (Janette ‘WITCH photo opportunity?’ Williamson) this year by voting for a Green candidate instead (which is what I usually do to punish any labour councillor who lets me down). If they were really serious about getting us to vote for them then why didn’t they carry out all of the noted repairs which were on the backlog list since I first got in touch way back in May 2016? I mean – they had the resources but chose to waste them by replacing lights that weren’t even broken in the first place in many locations for goodness sake!

    As of today I made the first night-time (as in dark, after 10pm) journey back along Oxton Road (the notorious road where all but ONE sodium lamp was out as of June this year due to the pathetic lazy council not doing nothing for two years and counting) for the first time in over two weeks, and was gobsmacked to find that – since last Sunday – all but one of the lights has now been converted to the LED lamps and all are working (one still remains as a working sodium yellow lamp for some unknown and baffling reason – why not replace them ALL at the same time then?). I assume this was done very quickly in the space of just 48 hours this week. So how come it took them so bloody long to do such a straightforward job? Sick to death of the constant dithering, I’d already put Direct Action leaflets through every single household on this road (over 50 houses) three weeks ago to inform them that they may have to wait until 2021 before they see new lights on their street if they do not act now and get on the council’s back, because there have been too many accidents already happening at night in the dark where pedestrians and residents feel unsafe in the pitch black….It looks like my campaign has paid off – but not before time, for crying out loud! TWO YEARS it took them, to sort these lights out – and one by one they started to fail in the interim. There are still many other streets where the repairs have not been done yet……

    • You have inhabited a space where once I dwelled unhappily.

      no end of proofs,facts or pictures will move the slovenly beast that is WBC. no fraud they cannot lies they won’t tolerate. No waste they won’t excuse.

      I have got one last story for Wirral leaks just waiting on a public authority quango getting sued then I will commit to computer a story of
      The walk through Test

      The above being an auditing term
      I hope the result of the law suit (not mine)will warm the heart of every desperate person who has had to grapple with local government

  7. Pingback: Bright Spark Illuminates The Lights In Hamilton Square | Wirralleaks

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