Residents in and around Addiscombe have been left in the dark again this week, less than two months after filing formal complaints to Croydon Council over the service – or lack of it – from contractors Skanska when several roads were plunged into the pitch black through a street lighting failure.
The lights went out early on Wednesday evening, affecting the area around Tunstall Road, Addiscombe Court Road, Heron Road, Leslie Park Road, Lebanon Road and Addiscombe Road – impacting many of the same residents who had been put at some danger for nearly a week by a similar issue in November.
It was not until late on Thursday this week that proper service was restored, more than 24 hours after the issue was reported.
According to official council sources, an outage in service from three or more street lights is regarded as an “emergency”, and ought to be dealt with within one hour of being reported.
Residents are becoming suspicious that the council’s SLA – or service level agreement – with contractors Skanska is not being met or is just not being properly monitored by Croydon Council.
This week’s fault was reported at 5.45pm on Wednesday, January 22. A further report – when nothing had been done to remedy the outage – was made at 10.51pm. But the next day, the “24-hour service” website somehow managed to show that the lighting fault had not been reported until January 23. This is significant because, when logged as an official record, it could make the response time appear more “efficient”.
The lights did not come back on at around 9pm on Thursday – well over 24 hours after the “emergency” was first reported.
Skanska also took much longer than the one-hour emergency period required under the service level agreement to fix the outage last November, with residents being kept in the dark for almost a week. Lebanon Road residents filed a complaint to the council, accusing it of “indifference”.
The issue then was a problem with the power supply, which the council and Skanska were able to conveniently lay at the door of UK Power Networks.
But there appears to be a wider issue coming to light (sorry) here in respect of the multi-million-pound outsourced lighting contract that Croydon has with Skanska.
Skanska has landed a juicy 25-year deal with Croydon and Lewisham councils, under a Private Finance Iniative part-funded with £151 million of cash from central government. As part of the deal, Croydon aims to replace all of the council’s 42,000 lights; 38,000 will have both the column and the lantern replaced.
The stumps of “dead” street light columns are appearing across the borough, left behind long after the old light has been decommissioned by Skanska, who are installing more modern replacements.
Overall, the project includes an initial five-year period for the replacement of lights, traffic signs and street bollards. Skanska then get the maintenance and repair contract until 2036 – although Addiscombe residents will be wondering whether the contractors will ever be subjected to any penalty clauses for their failure to deliver maintenance services within the published targets.
The official blurb offered by the councils when presenting the new lighting contract claimed, “One of the major factors in the replacement programme is to reduce energy consumption, and a typical saving of 30 to 40 per cent per road can be achieved by utilising the latest technology.” Of course, if the lights don’t work, it delivers a 100 per cent energy saving.
They also claimed that, “It is also possible to detect faults quicker due allowing the street lighting to be maintained much more efficiently.” Oh yeah.
The area of Woodside, Bensham Manor, Selhurst, Addiscombe and Fairfield (which includes Addiscombe Court Road) are all due for their street lights to be changed over to the new white lights. Work, according to the council website, was due to start in these areas from the third year of the development plan, which started August 2011; this would put this upgrade to occur between August 2013 and July this year.
There are, as you might expect with Croydon Council, no updates on its website as to the progress of the lighting works, and no indication of when the replacement works might begin in these areas. Lewisham Council’s website does include updates, which suggests that Skanska is providing reports on its progress. It’s just that Croydon Council can’t be bothered to pass that information on to its Council Tax-payers.
Coming to Croydon
- Edward Keszkiewicz art exhibition, Jan 21-Feb 1
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Lake Conan Doyle re-naming ceremony, Feb 1
- Give and Take Day, Surrey Street, Feb 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Feb 3
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
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