I MAKE no apologies for copying this post from my blog The World from my Window.
But I am so incensed after returning from a public meeting about street lighting in Dorset. No. I’m more than incensed. I’m bloody incandescent.
How can it be, in these days of so-called people power, with the Localism Bill just round the corner, that Dorset is under the threat of being changed for ever by an all-embracing street lighting scheme?
I am almost speechless. But not quite:
Dorset is going to be bathed in swathes of light. The spotlight is literally turning on Hardy’s Dorset, rural Dorset, that bucolic bubble of beauty, my enchanted village and villages everywhere.
Those nice people at Dorset County Council are going to improve our street lighting.
Rural Dorset, embrace your inner urban child. The street lights roadshow is coming to town…and villages and hamlets to a street, lane or cul-de-sac near you.
Here’s a leaflet about it:
Is that Canary Wharf I see in the distance? Or is it Hong Kong? It isn’t Lush Places, that’s for sure. Our dear Lush Places, with its village pump, the green, the red phone box and historic buildings all around.
But it could be soon, believe me it. It could be lots of lovely places all over this hidden gem of a county. Those quiet, secret corners of Dorset suddenly exposed for all to see.
Because the county council has entered into a private finance initiative (PFI) pact – not with the devil (it ditched energy company EDF a little while ago in a veil of silence) – but with those nice people from SSE [SSE Energy Supply Limited, a member of the Scottish and Southern Energy Group]. They’re much more softly spoken and far more approachable. They even look human but the story is the just same.
In the next few years, light pollution is going to be reduced across Dorset. That’s in the sky. But not in our rural areas. The soft, orange glow is going to be replaced by bright, white light, to meet the British and European standard.
Hurrah. One size fits all.
My village square has already been floodlit by stealth, under the heading ‘we’re going to give you traffic calming but we’re not going to tell you about the extra street lights you’ll need’. Until, whoosh, the Lush Places square looks like a Premier League football match at midnight.
The county council, when challenged, said ‘oops, sorry, we forgot to let you know about that bit’ and pledged to learn from its mistake and make sure the public was consulted on lighting schemes in the future.
So, a couple of years later, their contractor put a few posters up on telegraph poles, inviting people to a public meeting.
A few people turned up (what does it matter, it’s nothing to do with me. Oh, but it is, it really is).
‘This is consulation,’ the contractors said. ‘We’re going to give eight roads in your village new lights.’
‘Thank you so much,’ we said (ironically). ‘We live in the countryside but we really want it to be like a big town.’
‘That’s good,’ they said. ‘Because we’re doing it in a month’s time.’
So watch out, the new lights are coming to a lamp post near you.
And 28,000 other lamp posts across Dorset. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.