Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Lush Places: the PFI street light pact, coming to a lamp post near you

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:


Oh my.

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:

Dorset street lighting leaflet

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.

5 Responses to “Lush Places: the PFI street light pact, coming to a lamp post near you”

  1. Alastair Nisbet

    While street lights in the towns now go off soon after midnight to save electricity…
    Wake up in Dorch in the middle of the night and it’s very dark.

  2. The Red Bladder

    I am sorry old thing but I simply can’t understand your point. I know it’s probably me – I’m getting more and more that way these days.
    Is it the colour of the illumination? Surely white light renders everything in a far more natural, well – light. I know that over the last 40 or so years we have got used to seeing everything, at night, with an orange hue but that is far from ‘natural’. Our parents were used to a far different shade of light, during the war years, of course, no light at all.
    Is it the level of light? Will it really be that much brighter than existing lights? Surely the cover of a brochure is not going to give even a rough approximation of the way your square will look.
    Now I know that DCC need no lessons in spending money like a drunken sailor on pay night but even they, in their infinite stupidity, must have a reason for lashing out all that dosh that could be put to much better use on plush offices, lavish entertainment or extra allowances and expenses for those set above us, by themselves.
    Will the ‘improved’ lighting provide a higher level of safety for the people of Dorset? If so it must be for the good. I don’t know, but it’s possible.
    On reflection, I haven’t seen any adverts for Son et Lumièree events recently. Why don’t the people of Lush Places turn the whole village into a spectacular night time visitor experience with a light show, an orchestra on the playground grass area and a string of loudspeakers, on the new lamp posts, giving a potted history of the village. They would flock in to see it, the tills would not stop ringing and before long you could afford to put them old lights back. That could well be the answer, have a word with your pals – I’m sure they will see the advantages.

  3. Maddie Grigg

    Mr Bladder, the point is, that Lush Places blazed a trail. We were among the first villages in Dorset to get the new lights (by default). We have them in our square already, so we’ve seen the difference. And yes, they are very much brighter. We were going to have a floodlit football match to launch it but our main striker had a groin injury.

    There was something very warm and cosy about that orange glow, wasn’t there? The new lamps reduce light pollution in the night sky, but increase light pollution in the village itself.

    As far as safety is concerned, when we had the new ones in the square there was a ram raid on the village shop two days later because the villains had a better view of what was inside.

    Now eight more roads and unlit lanes in the village are getting the new lights. And they will be going up throughout Dorset.

    By the way, when are you going to have your own ‘Red Bladder’ page on RWD?

  4. The Red Bladder

    Lord, or even JH, knows. Had a bit of a sniffy e-mail from a candidate at the last General (carve up) Election only last week. It seems that I am a Euro fanatic. Yet another charge on a sheet that now runs to some half-a-dozen pages! Bit prompt for a would-be politician I thought.
    When the orange lights were introduced, back in the days before Lee Harvey Oswald gained prominence, the press kicked up a stink on the grounds that they make everyone look ill. Perhaps, in those days, some doctors held their surgeries al (can’t do italics) fresco. Daylight’s white(ish) and who wants the sky polluted with a load of stray light – how would the nuts see the UFOs? I see your point though – sounds like living in one of those old POW escape films where the cunning Hun’s spotlight picks up our gallant lads with their lantern jaws just as they get under the wire… still we could chuckle and we all knew our neighbours! We was poor but we was ‘appy, Gawd bless yer missus

  5. Oliver Chisholm

    Please allow me to correct The Red Bladder’s contribution of August 17. My “sniffy e-mail” accusing him of being a Euro-fanatic was actually a courteous invitation to explain the benfits of our EU membership as he saw them.
    His response was curiously hostile.
    Moving on to the debate over the County’s street lighting – and you will see the link here – I did tackle Dorset County Council and Southern Electric over this issue more than a year ago and was informed that over the next 25 years, £120 million would be spent replacing 27,000 lighting columns and this was entirely due to an EU directive concerning light pollution and efficiency.
    The Western Gazette ran the story but for some reason the parties involved denied any Brussels involvement.
    I have names and numbers to support my version.
    Readers can draw their own conclusions.

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