Monday, 17 March 2014

Tories Ignore Call For Stay Of Execution For Heritage Streetlights

County Tories have been accused of riding rough shod over the residents of Cambridge after workmen moved in to tear down the city’s heritage street lights.

Contractors began removing the lights in Victoria Street today (Monday, March 17) ignoring a drive by residents and councillors who were trying to secure funding to restore them and assurances given by contractor, Balfour Beatty in December.

A call for a last-minute stay of execution for the heritage street lights by Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ed Cearns at the council’s Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (March 13) has been ignored.

Cllr Cearns, who represents Cambridge’s Market Ward, had left the meeting believing his suggestion to head-up a member-led review on the issue and the huge amount of problems that other areas of the county have faced on this project, would be raised with Tory Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services, Cllr Mac McGuire.

But today he discovered by chance the work had started on removing the heritage lighting to replace it with modern steel alternatives under a PFI contract to replace all the county’s 55,000 street lights.

He said: “I was assured that nothing would happen to that particular street whilst the funding negotiations were happening. I discovered today that Balfour Beatty had arranged to remove them without any further consultation. Clearly the contractors are unaware of the depth of feeling expressed by councillors at the scrutiny meeting.

“The Conservatives are riding rough shod over the people of Cambridge by allowing this work to press ahead despite our concerns. This contract was badly put together and didn’t consider the needs and concerns of residents. The lights are an important part of the city’s heritage; once they are removed they are lost forever.

“We have been working for many months now to secure funding to give them a stay of execution but clearly the Conservative administration  just wants to get the job done.”

Cambridge City Councillor, Colin Rosenstiel, who represents Market Ward, has also been campaigning to save the heritage lights.

He said: “We accept that we have to have our streets properly lit to keep people safe and cut our carbon footprint, but we want to strike a balance so that we don’t destroy the historic nature of Cambridge at the same time.

“We don’t want to lose our heritage lights and were hoping that we could raise the money to save them; despite this it seems the work is carrying on regardless. Clearly the Tories on Cambridgeshire County Council consider the views of Cambridge residents don’t matter on this issue.”