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Posted by: John Brace | 30th October 2015

For The Small Price Of A Lightbulb

For The Small Price Of A Lightbulb

Bam Nuttall contract drawings of one of the twenty different designs for wiring for one of Wirral Council's streetlights thumbnail

Bam Nuttall contract drawings of one of the twenty different designs for wiring for one of Wirral Council’s streetlights thumbnail

One of my favourite authors, Isaac Asimov when editing books of science fiction stories (or even his own stories) used to add an introduction to each story. This is an introduction to a piece by a guest blogger (in future these introductions will probably be shorter).

Many moons ago, I started and ran a video games website (single-handed) that had more readers each month than the Wirral Globe has now. Just in case anyone considers that a “hobby”, I was paid for it, just as I earn money from writing this blog.

Visitors to that website used to submit content (there was a forum too) and believe me having to edit a submission from a teenager who completely ignores any of the rules of grammar and doesn’t use full stops was a stretch.

For a while I’ve been thinking of a new feature on this blog similar to the letters page of the newspapers where users can submit content. After all (apart from a submission by Leonora who I’ve tried to gently encourage to write again) readers of this blog have had to put up with me for the last five years!

I have asked a number of people to write a guest post, however Nick Lauro has been the first to thankfully say yes!

Compared to the experience above, editing Nick Lauro’s submission has been a dream by comparison. I have only made one very minor edit!

His piece is about something that I’ll refer to as a “bread and butter” issue of political activists or a politician and reminds me of a similar problem I tried to sort out once on the Beechwood estate. Writing any more than that about it would spoil the surprise.


By Nick Lauro

Is it really too much to ask? It’s not as though I’m asking for the air fare and the accommodation costs for a trip to China, it’s just a couple of street lamps that need fixing! So began my speculation, as I pondered in the dark about exactly how much of Wirral council taxpayers’ money it costs to send a van and a couple of engineers out to repair a street lamp or two.

It all started around the end of September when unusually, my little cul­-de-­sac was plunged into darkness by the simultaneous failure of not one, but two lamp posts. Not the end of the world, maybe a bit on the Victor Meldrew side of petty but nevertheless, a valid security risk to my fellow neighbours whose houses sit next to the shrouded, wooded scrubland that provides an obvious getaway/hiding place, for even the most feckless burglar. It’s not the first time a street light has failed over the 11 years I’ve lived in the road, and has always been an easy problem to rectify; contact council, report faulty light, wait a few days, light fixed.

Reporting a faulty street light is as simple as visiting the Wirral council website and filling in an online form that rewards you with a message of acknowledgement ­much preferable to hanging on the end of a telephone waiting to speak to an overworked, underpaid, first­ line support employee from an understaffed department. After you’ve completed the reporting process, you sit and wait for the lights to come back on again ­or in this case, not… four ­plus weeks and two ignored Tweets later, darkness still prevails when the sun goes down and my train of thought drifts toward ideas of austerity, cuts and a local authority so fiscally challenged, they can no longer provide the same level of service for our most basic of urban requirements. But wait; there is much talk in the local press about my locality being saved from oblivion by the universal panacea for all cash­ strapped local authorities ­a ‘Golf Resort’. We have a white knight upon his steed, bringing us promise of regeneration and our council coffers once again, overflowing with bullion ­surely enough to restore Wirral’s street ­furniture to working order for years to come?

Alas, our saviour and two of his executive salaried colleagues have departed in what looks to be a strategically planned exit, taking between them, some £500,000 of council taxpayers’ money in remunerations. Who will save us now, from further fiscal disaster? Who can keep the dream alive for ‘Wirral Waters’? Will the money to fix two dodgy street lamps down my road ever be found?

Seriously folks, when an organisation funded by money from the public purse ­our money ­can seemingly see fit to play the sort of boardroom games more in keeping with the style of premier league football managers, it is easy to feel bitterly short-changed. The recent monetary machinations carried out by our most highly paid public servants, only serves to cast suspicion and doubt on their ability to even find the money to change a light bulb.

© Nick Lauro 2015

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Responses

  1. G’day John

    A brilliant piece.

    A good idea John well done.

    My only comment is that the man’s name Lauro it does sound like it could be someone who would be in “Hooligan’s Bar with “Ankles”.

    “Ankles” saying something like “Lauro mate spoke to Locky and Harby and there is a scam over some kit Locky bought with council dosh mate and then moved it to Harby and was assisted by “The Football Shirt” you can get it cheap Lauro mate”.

    “The Shyster” will have your back covered Lauro”.

    Well done Nick no disrespect to you or your name just the lowest life forms at Wirral.

    Ooroo

    James

    Wish I cud write that good, fair dinkum.

    • You write in your own unique way James. You’re the most prolific person leaving comments on this blog.

      However that is his name and let’s be nice to him as he’s new here?

      • Absolute respect for Nick Lauro and his writing John.

        I wish more people would do it while they are doing all these good things are supposedly happening.

        I might add only cos they all want to be mayor and his parasites.

        Wait till Uncle Joe gets the nod and see them crumble back to the doggy doo that they are.

        • James, my surname is definitely real and Italian! I’m also not very tall (like my Italian father) and require the assistance of a chair to change most household light bulbs. Mind you, I think it’s a bit too coincidental that the 2 street lamps at the bottom of my road have gone, so maybe it could be a dual electrical fault and I’m barking up the wrong tree (or lamp post) assuming it’s a dead bulb scenario? But dontcha just love a bit of money saving during the winter season…

  2. I know where you coming from, i have been waiting two years for my lights to be fixed,
    I have noticed when i travel to work in the early hours the amount of street lights not working is just silly, and then you wonder why people are attacked at night and women raped.
    Also time for reporting a fault to it being fixed went from 72 hours to over 15 days +

    • If I remember correctly they used to have night time scouting patrols to see if street lights were out.

      However if I remember correctly (someone please correct me if I’m wrong and they still do) I think that got knocked on the head to save money so they rely mainly on the public being their eyes and ears now.

      Since they deliberately started turning a lot of street lights off though it’s caused a lot of confusion as to whether a street light is not working or deliberately turned off.

      • If a light is out there can be a multitude of reasons:

        o lamp bust
        o cable dead
        o photocell knackered
        o several more reasons, too numerous to mention

        If the cable belongs to Scottish Power (unlike in your diagram above John) or whoever’s the local electricity company, you may be waiting months. They have different priorities.

        FOI request about scouting rounds:

        https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/out_of_hours_monitoring_of_stree

        They were still doing them in May 2012 and probably haven’t outsourced them because a proven corporately bullying council tends to WANT to control areas where there is influence / overtime money for the persons planning / doing the work.

        If they can switch off almost a 1,000 lights on Wirral without turning a hair and arrogantly state they’re doing it to save money, then it won’t trouble them too much to try and justify nobbling scouting rounds.

        Street lighting has become a neglected backwater. I saw your comments Keef66, but councils tend to have different priorities to normal, feeling people burdened by consciences and morals.

        Cash tends to be ringfenced for areas like ‘reputation management’ whereby Martin Liptrot is paid £45,000 for two days’ work and as long as lots of lovely elaborate, lacy, colourful window dressing is draped around the front of the shop, the interior can stink to high heaven and resemble the inside of a back street abortionist’s hovel. But as long as the public don’t get to SEE INSIDE past the awards on the window claiming “Most improved”, etc. they’re safe.

        But yes, street lighting. Great innit.

  3. http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/yoursay/wirralletters/13942587.Wirral_Council_not_too_bright_on_street_lamps/?action=success#comment_14853819

    • Yep I read Nick Lauro’s letter to the Wirral Globe today too, but you read it here first!

  4. Lauro it does seem that strategic exits have been planned now that the sham regeneration game is seen for what it is, “a King of shreds and patches”

    Nobody expects civil servants to be brilliant “Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?” but neither do they expect them to be dark and sinister “Stars hide your fires let not light see my deep and dark desires”.

    More illumination is needed and John’s idea of independent contributors is BRILLIANT.

    You contribution Lauro also shone.

    Go see the latest cinematic Macbeth , it is outstanding.

    • I hope Mr. Lauro’s efforts result in Wirral Council fixing the streetlights in his cul-de-sac.

      Maybe I should start a regular letter to the editor type blog post each week?


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