Wirral Council switches off hundreds of Street Lights, but WITHOUT considering ALL the information

22nd January 2014

– the council’s up to date FoI response is here.

– my appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office is here

3rd December 2013 – answers are in for the FoI request on Wirral Council’s street lighting switch off

The first thing to note here is…  after this crucial decision was put up for scrutiny before members in December 2012, Wirral Council went ahead and switched off 100s of street lights, but without considering all of the available information.  Scroll down for more…

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/street_lighting_switch_off_was_a#incoming-461126

Partial answers came in today in response to the above Freedom of Information request.  Here are those answers, alongside the original questions.  (My comments are in RED):

1. Boundaries of area affected. Boundaries of future areas proposed for “switch off”

A1 The review of streets affected covered the entire borough and which would also apply for any future proposals for switching off lighting, should that budget option for 2014/15 be approved by Council.

I was hoping for maps here, indicating the extent of the areas affected.  Fair enough, I didn’t specify that.

2. List of roads affected. List of future roads proposed for “switch off”

A2 The list of streets affected in 2013/14 is provided on the Council’s website, please use the link on this webpage: [1]http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/tra…

The attached spreadsheet provides an up-to-date status of all that affected lighting, having been reviewed since that list was published.

STREET LIGHTING SWITCH OFF – 2013/14 BUDGET SAVINGS   OPTION
LOCATION Qty Status following review Comment
Total units 1181
Pedestrian Only Sites
Ian Fraser Walk 25 Off
Scotts Field Walkway 34 Off
Morpeth Dock Walkway 25 Off
Egerton Dock Walkway 14 Off
North Parade P columns 16 Off
Alabama Way 14 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Rose Brae Walkway 25 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Carr Bridge Road Cycle Path 16 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Woodside Walkway 14 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Yew Tree Park 10 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Carr Bridge Road Footpath (S/O   Sports Centre) 6 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
New Hey Road Footpath (S/O   School) 6 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Seacombe to Egremont Promenade 63 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Egremont to Tower Promenade 37 Off 00:00 to 06:00 On at present pending   alterations to part night
Non Residential Roads
Saughall Massie By Pass 29 Off
New Ferry By Pass (33A to   184A) 152 Off
Fender Lane (Tesco to Fendale   Ave) 66 Off
Bidston Link Road 37 Off
North Wallasey Approach 100 Alternate light off/on Switched back on 4   December pending alterations to alternate off/on
North Wallasey Approach (E   Cols) 32 Alternate light off/on Switched back on 4   December pending alterations to alternate off/on
North Wallasey Approach (A   Cols) 28 Alternate light offon Switched back on 4   December pending alterations to alternate off/on
Docks Link North 69 Off
Docks Link South 66 Off
Kings Parade (26 to 44) 19 Off
Industrial Access Roads
Campbell Town Road 32 Off
Plantation Road 14 Off
Power Road 10 Off
Riverbank Road 30 Off
Riverwood Road 23 Off
Riverview Road 29 Alternate Lights Off Switched back on pending   alterations to alternate off/on
Commercial Road 18 Off
Stadium Road 31 Alternate Lights Off Switched back on pending   alterations to alternate off/on
Thursby Road 15 Off
Martindale Road 7 Off
Bassendale Road 20 Off
Skiddaw Road 6 Off
Thermal Road 18 Alternate Lights Off Switched back on pending   alterations to alternate off/on
Old Hall Road (16 to 21) 6 Off
Morpeth Wharf 19 Off

There are [as] yet no firm proposals for the locations of switching off lights in 2014/15, should that budget option for 2014/15 be approved by Council.

3. Planned duration of “switch off” in months / weeks / days

A3 All of the lights affected in A2 above are switched off all of the time, except where it is proposed to change to part night switch off at the locations identified in the attached spreadsheet.

This hasn’t been answered properly.  Whether this is through incompetence or evasiveness, I don’t know.  I was asking “For how long into the future will the lights be switched off?”  An internal review will be requested, specifying this.

4. Length of outage per 24 hour period e.g. midnight to 5 am

A4 All of the lights affected in A2 above are switched off all of the time, except where it is proposed to change to part night switch off at the locations identified in the attached spreadsheet.

5. Reasons for “switch off” e.g. economic / environmental

A5 Economic, as part of the Council’s budget savings option for 2013/14.

6. Date of internal consultation undertaken e.g. engagement with Street Lighting Section for professional advice, remit / report and date report delivered

A6 Internal consultation for the street lighting budget option was carried out over the period September 2012, regarding the broad principles, to February 2013, finalising the list of streets which were to be affected. Oversight of the first stage of consultation on budget savings options was provided by the then Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 6^th November 2012, and the s website at: [2]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc… with the relevant minute being item 28.

The above is NOT actually an internal consultation, but a reference to the What Really Matters public “consultation” which had responses from ONLY 6,921 people, many of whom were council staff:

Percentage of eligible Wirral population contributing to survey = 2.6376%

Percentage of eligible Wirral population NOT contributing to survey = 97.3624%

I will ask for this to be internally reviewed by a senior officer

The ONLY mention of street lighting in the whole 14 pages of this document goes as follows:

“Street lighting was also mentioned frequently as an area where savings could be explored.”

I don’t see 2.6376% of the public, some of whom agreed vaguely that ‘savings could be explored’, as A MANDATE to switch off large numbers of streetlights for an as yet UNKNOWN period of time.

Oversight of the second stage of the consultation feedback and the resulting budget options, including that for street lighting, was provided by the then Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 4^th December 2012 and the relevant papers cans website at: [3]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc… with the relevant minute being item 44.

Alarmingly, the following comment, by Kevin Ellis, Street Lighting Group Leader, provided to councillors in September 2011 within this document….

“Switching off lights was not considered to be an appropriate course of action for a predominately urban borough. There would also be the risk of litigation in the event of an accident at a site where the lights had been switched off.”

….did NOT make it into the IMPACT section of this document, presented to the above scrutiny committee by the Interim Director of Technical Services on 4th December 2012, when councillors considered switching the lights off.

WHY?????!!!

That’s what I’d call a serious omission. There is no mention of the risk of litigation in the advice document and this high level warning by the most senior lighting professional was allowed to fall by the wayside.  Councillors DID NOT get all of the required information.  Alarmingly, a decision to go ahead with the switch off was made by members, but without sight of all the crucial information, not to mention the absence of a convincing mandate from the Wirral public

For the 2014/15 budget options consultation and reviewing the implementation of the 2013/14 budget options, including street lighting, oversight has been provided through the Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee at its meeting on 5^th November 2013, the relevant papers can be found on the Council’s website at:[4]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx… with the relevant minutes being items 26 and 27.

Again, there is no mention of litigation at the above link, the potential impact is very weak and watered down, AND the Council haven’t answered on whether their own street lighting professionals have been consulted.  On the strength of what we’ve received here, the answer to whether professional advice was actively sought looks like a resounding NO…

7. Date of public consultation undertaken, remit, report and date report delivered

A7 Public consultation was carried out as part of the What Really Matters consultation, carried out in two stages, firstly in September/October

2012, then the second stage in November 2012 to January 2013

A report on the second stage of that consultation was received by Cabinet on 7 February 2013, the link below provides the minutes of that meeting on the Council’s website. The relevant minute is 184:

[5]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc…

Appendix 2 covering Regeneration and Environment provides the relevant detail for street lighting.

 For the 2014/15 budget, consultation has recently closed, the details can be found on the Council’s website at:

[6]http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/cou…

and street lighting is in the Regeneration and Environment Budget Options.

8. Final list of roads selected for potential “switch off” following Councillor / Cabinet input (which may differ from list of roads recommended in any consultation report, internal or external)

A8 Answer as A2 above.

9. Current size of Wirral Council’s Street Lighting CMS (Central Management System)

 A9 Please find attached a full schedule of those streets for which CMS capability has been fitted and implemented. To date, these locations (other than those now switched off [As A2 above] through the CMS) have been dimmed all night rather than set for timed dimming or timed switch off.

Location

Nos. of columns

Status
Argyle Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

5

Dimmed to   50%
Ash   Grove:Wallasey:Wirral

4

Dimmed to   75%
Atherton Street:New Brighton:Wirral

1

Dimmed to   75%
Aylesbury Road:Wallasey:Wirral

6

Dimmed to   75%
Beach   Grove:Wallasey:Wirral

4

Dimmed to   75%
Belmont Road:Wallasey:Wirral

1

Dimmed to   75%
Berkley Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

2

Dimmed to   75%
Bernard Avenue:Wallasey:Wirral

3

Dimmed to   75%
Birch   Grove:Wallasey:Wirral

7

Dimmed to   75%
Birkenhead Road:Hoylake:Wirral

92

Dimmed to   50%
Brackenhurst Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

3

Dimmed to   75%
Braehaven Road:Wallasey:Wirral

2

Dimmed to   75%
Caithness Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

10

Dimmed to   75%
Canning Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

35

Dimmed to   50%
Cleveland Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

97

Dimmed to   50%
Conway Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

58

Dimmed to   50%
Cumberland Road:Wallasey:Wirral

4

Dimmed to   75%
Dalton Road:Wallasey:Wirral

5

Dimmed to   75%
Denton Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

7

Dimmed to   75%
Egerton Street:Wallasey:Wirral

6

Dimmed to   75%
Egremont  Promenade:Wallasey:Wirral

9

Were dimmed   to 75%, now switched off
Elgin Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

10

Dimmed to   75%
Europa Boulevard:Birkenhead:Wirral

20

Dimmed to   50%
Exmouth Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

9

Dimmed to   50%
Fort   Street:Wallasey:Wirral

5

Dimmed to   75%
Hale Road:Wallaey:Wirral

8

Dimmed to   75%
Haydock Road:Wallasey:Wirral

5

Dimmed to   75%
Hertford Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

10

Dimmed to   75%
Holland Road:Wallaey:Wirral

11

Dimmed to   75%
Hoylake Road:Birkenhead:Wirral

43

Dimmed to   50%
Kings   Parade:New Brighton:Wirral

44

Were dimmed   to 50%, now switched off
Laird   Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

48

Dimmed to   50%
Lichfield Street:Wallasey:Wirral

3

Dimmed to   75%
Lincoln Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

10

Dimmed to   75%
Magazine   Brow:New Brighton:Wirral

1

Dimmed to   75%
Magazine   Promenade:Wallasey:Wirral

20

Was dimmed   to 75%, now switched off
Marine   Promenade:New Brighton:Wirral

1

Was dimmed   to 75%, now switched off
Mason Street:Wallasey:Wirral

3

Dimmed to   75%
Melling Road:Wallasey:Wirral

5

Dimmed to   75%
Meols   Parade:Meols:Wirral

67

Dimmed to   50%
Nelson Street:Wallasey:Wirral

5

Dimmed to   75%
New Chester Road:Birkenhead:Wirral

82

Dimmed to   50%
North   Parade:Hoylake:Wirral

38

Dimmed to   50%
Orrell Road:Wallasey:Wirral

6

Dimmed to   75%
Park Road North:Birkenhead:Wirral

46

Dimmed to   50%
Radnor Drive:Wallasey:Wirral

10

Dimmed to   75%
Rowson Street:New Brighton:Wirral

1

Dimmed to   75%
Seabank Road:Wallasey:Wirral

1

Dimmed to   75%
Shore Road:Birkenhead:Wirral

18

Dimmed to   50%
St James Road:Birkenhead:Wirral

11

Dimmed to   50%
Tower   Promenade:Wallasey:Wirral

7

Was dimmed   to 75%, now switched off
Upton   By-Pass:Upton:Wirral

158

Dimmed to   50%
Watson Street:Birkenhead:Wirral

24

Dimmed to   50%
Total

1091

Further roll out of CMS capability to a further 575 units is planned within the Capital Programme; either in 2014/15 or 2015/16, the timing dependant on other competing Invest to Save priorities within the Council.

The CMS arrangements are primarily intended as an environmental improvement.

10. Any alternatives to “switching off” considered

A10 For the budget option for 2013/14, alternatives to switching off lighting were not considered.

About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
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One Response to Wirral Council switches off hundreds of Street Lights, but WITHOUT considering ALL the information

  1. l8in says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

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