Christmas spirit is in short supply after some of Leighton Buzzard’s new festive decorations had to be taken down due to Central Beds Council’s “ill-timed” lamppost maintenance programme.
Leighton-Linslade Town Council was told on Thursday that Central Beds Council was starting testing on the street lights in the town centre.
Within hours several of the columns in West Street were deemed defective meaning they had to be removed – complete with the decorations adorning them.
That has left the town council, who recently entered a three-year £30,000 deal to provide the town with a new set of illuminations, furious over that their sparkling new display had been “comprimised. They fear more lampposts may end up being removed in the coming days.
They have also questioned why the six-year cycle for checking the lampposts needed to coincide with Christmas, and believe for safety reasons the tests would be better carried out in the summer when the nights are shorter.
Speaking to the LBO on Friday, a council spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed to have been notified yesterday morning that Central Bedfordshire Council was in the process of carrying out structural and electrical tests to its lamp columns within the town.
“The testing programme which is carried out on a six-year cycle has so far found three lamp columns in West Street and one in Millbank unsound.
“Consequently, the lamp columns are in the process of being removed together with the Christmas decorations and banners which adorn them.
“We fear that as part of this on-going survey, more light columns may well be found defective thereby further compromising the Christmas lights display.”
He added: “As the town council, we are saddened that we were never informed that the survey was to take place and if we were, we could have made clear that December was not a good time for the parish for this work to take place.
“Moreover, we find it peculiar that street lights are removed at a time when they are most needed from a highway safety perspective.
“Finally, for the town, it is deeply frustrating and disappointing that the Christmas lights display that we have spent so much time, effort and money on their design have been so badly compromised to the detriment of our residents and visitors.
“The new display which has been largely well received is important to the town as it encourages people to visit the town centre thereby increasing their dwell time and spend within the town.
The new display has moved away from multi colours to soft white and gold. At the end of the contract the council says it may decide to carry on the same theme and add more to the existing lights or change it entirely as fashion changes and new products emerge.
Chairman of LB First Gennaro Borrelli was equally miffed about Central Beds Council’s poor timing that had impacted on town’s festive display. He said: “I agree with the council. It’s poor planning, no consideration and a lack of respect for the town council. They are treating the town council with contempt. They are arrogant and do what they like, when they like. It’s no different to Hockliffe Road being closed for resurfacing at this time of year. I’ve not seen any work going on. It’s the major arterial route into town.”
A spokesman for Central Beds Council said: “As part of our programme of safety inspections, we found structural issues on four old lampposts which were removed to protect public safety.
“We have tested over 4,000 lampposts this year across the region. Checks are still in progress in the Leighton-Linslade area, which are due to be finished by mid-January.”
The spokesman confirmed lampposts are tested on a six-year cycle and that, so far, four had needed removing in the town.
She added: “We cannot give a specific time when these will be replaced.
“The lampposts used in Leighton-Linslade are not standard items. We are getting new bespoke lampposts designed that should match the old lampposts in the town.”
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