Harrogate’s council leader is “misleading” the public over his claims that up to 100 of the town’s heritage cast iron lampposts will be saved.
Up to 900 of the historic street lights, some dating back to Queen Victoria’s reign, are to be replaced with standard steel ones by North Yorkshire County amid “health and safety” fears, which caused anger in the spa town.
Last week Cllr Richard Cooper announced that the authority is to put aside £40,000 of tax payers’ money to help preserve and save 100 lampposts sited in the town’s most sensitive areas, including the Stray.
In a “tweet”, Cllr Cooper said: “It’s @Harrogatebc2012 Cabinet this evening. Saving #Harrogate traditional lamp posts on the agenda”. In another he said: “At @Harrogatebc2012 Cabinet tonight we approved £40k to preserve around 100 #harrogate traditional lamp posts. It’s a start.”
However, far from being saved, the lampposts are to be replaced with steel lampposts – and then clad to look like the ones they have replaced.
County Councillor David Simister, UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough, has accused Cllr Cooper of attempting to con the public.
County Coun Simister (Harrogate, Bilton & Nidd Gorge) said: Coun Cooper is misleading the public. His claim that the lampposts will be ‘saved and preserved’ is blatantly untrue.
Far from being saved, they are being replaced with pale imitations that are going to cost the tax payers of the district tens-of-thousands-of-pounds.
He calls it a start. Not for the cast iron lampposts that are to be torn from the pavements it isn’t. It’s the end of the road for them!
Each new lamppost costs £900 to install yet refurbishing the existing ones cost less than £1,000. In addition, research shows the lifespan of the cast iron lamppost is far superior to that of a steel one.
I have studied a county council report and the majority of the cast iron lampposts are in what it calls ‘OK’ condition, but need to be earthed. The new lampposts will also have to be earthed
I have also asked the council officer in charge of this project the scrap value of each cast iron lamppost and how much the authority has received in payment so far?
Helen Flynn, Harrogate and Knaresborough Liberal Democrats said: It would be good to gain from the Leader of Harrogate Borough Council what the clear strategy is from the Cabinet around street lamps in Harrogate.
Whilst we welcome some partial interest in preserving Harrogate’s heritage, the three fundamental questions we will be asking are: where is the £40,000 coming from, as this year’s budget has already been determined?
What solution presents best value when considering the state of the street lamps; refurbishment or replacement?
And is this indeed a “start”, as seems to have been inferred, on saving all lamp posts, or a token offering of saving a few?
Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Cllr Richard Cooper said: We are preserving the traditional lamp posts. We are replacing the very many ones which were second hand when we bought them from West Yorkshire in the 1920s. It’s no wonder some of them are showing their age.The choice is to replace them with modern ‘rolled steel’ lamp posts or with traditional ‘lion, witch and wardrobe’ lamp posts.
For around 100 of the lamp posts in the most prominent areas we are spending a substantial sum of money doing that. I am looking to extend that programme as and when cash is available.
This is exactly what we did when the Borough Council was responsible for street lighting before this transferred to the County Council.
To try and make a semantic difference between ‘preserving the traditional lamp posts’ and ‘preserving the same lamp posts’ to score a political point gets us nowhere.
What we should be doing is working together to secure more funding to enhance and improve our local environment. That is what I will continue to do.