During our campaign against the substandard quality of residential street lighting across the borough, Local Campaigner Thomas Parker gave a speech in the form of a deputation at the local Council meeting in April 2018 on behalf of the residents of Wildridings and Easthampstead after over 300 respondents from the area voiced their concerns through our Residents’ Survey and doorstep campaigning.
In the Council’s response to Thomas’ speech, Cllr Turrell (Executive Member for Planning & Transport) suggested that the specification for the lighting and the supplier were chosen based on the Council’s confidence in the process that was followed by the London Borough of Hounslow in their rollout of LED lighting, which was completed by Hounslow Highways (a subsidiary of Ringway). It was suggested by Cllr Turrell that a pilot study was not required as Hounslow had completed extensive testing.
To examine the truth of this claim and to further explore the actual work undertaken by the London Borough, a freedom of information request was completed by Thomas which asked a very simple question to the London Borough. “Please provide details of any pilot studies or residential consultations completed as part of the LED Street Lamp Upgrade programme undertaken by Ringway and Hounslow Highways”.
The local authority ultimately failed to respond to the query within the legally required 20 working days set out in the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and therefore a formal complaint was issued to the London Borough. This was also not responded to within the London Borough’s own internal requirements as set out in their Complaints Policy. Therefore Thomas made a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for this breach of the law.
Three months after the initial request, the London Borough revealed why it had been silent on this issue, as expected there had not been any consultations with residents and absolutely no pilot study before the rollout of street lighting. The London Borough’s official response was as follows: “No public consultation was carried out by the London Borough of Hounslow prior to the installation of LED lighting in the Borough”.
This means that Cllr Turrell’s statement that the Council could rely on the previous consultations and pilots completed was incorrect. Residents were not involved in Hounslow and residents were not involved in Bracknell Forest before ?7m of taxpayer money was plunged into the project that has resulted in inadequate and substandard lighting being installed across our borough. This highlights the Council’s disregard towards the concerns of ordinary residents not just in Bracknell Forest but even further afield. Both Council’s notably are ‘one-party states’ with no real opposition able to scrutinise and challenge these decisions on a major level.
If you want Councillors that will fight to ensure we don’t spend millions of pounds of taxpayer money on projects that don’t provide an adequate level of service for residents, if you want Councillors that will ensure there is proper scrutiny and that the concerns of residents are the top of the agenda, Demand Better and vote for the Bracknell Forest Liberal Democrats in May 2019.