HAILSHAM: Council out of pocket after power upgrade

HAILSHAM Town Council has been left with its fingers burnt after a dispute with electricity giant UK Power Networks.

The council has been left to foot a £4,420 bill to fix 28 lampposts which have been left on for 24 hours a day across the town after they were upgraded by UK Power Networks.

The problems date back to early last year, when work was carried out by the power supplier to change the overhead wiring system of the lights.

However following the upgrade, Hailsham Town Council was left with the choice of either leaving the 28 lampposts permanently on or permanently switched off.

The council now has to stump up for the cost of putting the day-burning lights right after UK Power Networks refused to pay to fix the problem which was a result of its work.

David Saxby, Hailsham Town Council’s burials and properties officer, told the Gazette that the council was not consulted before the work was carried out.

“Had they told us, we could have put some money aside from the precept, plus it would have been cheaper to do all of the upgrading work in one go,” she said.

“We didn’t ask for the work and we have been left with a fait accompli. They have flatly refused to pay anything towards it,” he added.

The proposal to correct the day-burning lights will be considered by full council on March 14.

UK Power Networks said it is the responsibility of the owning councils to maintain and update their equipment.

Their spokesman said, “UK Power Networks has agreed to install and connect replacement lamps to wooden poles, at no cost to the parish or town councils, if they are provided at the time of our overhead line works.

“The company has updated the low voltage distribution network in the Hailsham area and letters were sent out to the relevant authorities (district councils) in January of last year to explain exactly what was happening,” he said.

“The company is unable to maintain the old-style system for street lights when overhead lines are replaced.

“It is the responsibility of the lighting authority to make other arrangements when this service is withdrawn.

“This is normally achieved by installing a light-sensing circuit that is used to switch the street light on and off.

“The company previously agreed to leave the street lights connected 24 hours a day until the relevant lighting authority has programmed its remedial work.

“The authorities are not charged for the extra electricity consumption.

“Our representative did not agree at the meeting that the local tax payer should not meet the cost of adapting the lights.

“It is indeed now up to each council to consider undertaking the necessary work on installing timer mechanisms,” he added.