The council’s lighting contractors are conducting a “consultation” of some residents in Croydon to discover how well the company is performing. Since they are carrying out the consultation themselves, no one expects the resultant report to be anything but glowing – unlike many of the Skanska street lights.
And according to Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader, Skanska has made an unholy mess around Croydon Minster.
It’s more than a month now since Skanska workers dug a trench around the side of the historic building. Since when, the lights around the churchyard have been switched off, leaving the public area deep in darkness each night. The issue was reported to both Skanska and Croydon Council, who are supposed to be monitoring the contractors’ work on behalf of the public. Neither organisation appears to have taken any action to remedy the situation over the course of the last six weeks.
Indeed, when the council received a second complaint, one month after the initial fault report, they issued this bog-standard response: “… our contractor Skanska who maintain the street lighting within the borough and aim to make repairs within four working days where possible, however some faults may be due to wider network issues such as electricity main faults, which can take up to 30 working days to be repaired by regional electricity supplier”.
According to the resident who filed the original complaint in early September, “The council official clearly hadn’t even bothered to read the latest complaint, which mentioned that the hole in the ground had been there for a month, and that the street lights were switched off.”
It was the previous Tory administration in charge of our council who entered the agreement which has saddled Croydon, together with Lewisham, with a 25-year, £79-million joint contract with Skanska for installation and maintenance of street lights and signage. Sources within the council say that Skanska won the deal at such a low price that they are no longer able to carry out necessary work in a financially viable manner – with the result that much of the work in Croydon is now done with minimum effort and costs.
“If the council refuses to manage and monitor Skanska’s work properly, then all we will have is millions of pounds of public money being squandered on sub-standard services and tatty-looking streets,” said the resident who has to make their way home past the Minster most evenings.
There is even a suggestion that Skanska may have started the work around the Minster without first getting proper permission from the Church of England, who own the building and the churchyard.
One aspect of any withheld permission could well be the style of lamp posts Skanska wants to impose on the area. The Minster is the jewel in the Old Town heritage area, one of Croydon’s last remaining significant buildings which were not bulldozed in the previous rush to redevelop the town in the 1960s. Until a month ago, the churchyard was lit from some replica-style Victorian-like lamp posts, in scale and suited to the surroundings.
But Skanska appears to be determined to remove the architecturally sympathetic street lights in the churchyard and to replace them with their job lot of cheap, tall and modern lamp posts.
According to Town Hall sources, “the delay is down to the ecclesiastical authorities not giving Skanska permission to continue the works they started, but it is hoped that this will be granted shortly”.
In the meantime, this link in the “Connected Croydon” pedestrian and cyclists’ route through from Church Street to Roman Way, South Croydon and Waddon, remains dark.
Inside Croydon would encourage its loyal reader to take part in the Skanska street lighting survey, here.
After all, it’s our money which is ultimately paying for the “survey”, so that Skanska can report back to their clients, the council, our council, about what a terrific job they have been doing.
You can also call 0800 028 5986 and a member of staff will input your answers for you. Less than half of the “survey” is about street lighting, with the majority (optional) of the questions concerning equalities policy, so it ought not take too long.
You can use that same phone number to contact Skanska directly with any complaints you may have, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
And don’t worry: “Your feedback will be treated in confidence”, Skanska say.
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