Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Lights out over Deptford

How many of you visited the wonderful Lumiere festival of light in town last weekend? I hope you got your fill of awe-inspiring illumination as you ain't going to get much in SE8, not even the bog standard stuff. 

With bitter irony, as Deptford's night-time economy takes an upturn, its public lighting seems to be going head-first down the pan.

Of all of Deptford's public areas, Giffin Square is surely the one most generously provided with lighting facilities. As well as eight towering lamp standards which each carry five or six lights on the top, the square also has small lights set in some of the stone cubes, and strip lights place randomly between the paving stones in the square.

Hard to imagine when this is the scene after dark in Deptford's main square. The north side of the square, in front of Costa Coffee, is pitch black.

Out of more than 40 lights on the eight lamp standards in the square JUST TWO are actually working, shining pitifully down on this gloomy landscape.

Luckily floor level is lit sufficiently to prevent pedestrians tripping over the randomly-placed blocks of granite, but almost everything else is in shadow.

What exactly is the point of having a lamp post with six lights on the top if you can't be arsed to replace the bulbs? 

Walk a bit further and you start to suspect this is not just a one-off fail. 

Douglas Square was refurbished with those odd hanging lights a few years back - four sets of cables each with three lights strung between poles to illuminate the market square. 

Or not. 

ONLY HALF of the lights in Douglas Square are working - six out of twelve unlit and no sign of them having replacement bulbs any time soon. 

As if that's not bad enough, anyone walking to New Cross station has to pass through yet another square of gloom on their journey.

The infamous 'public realm' (I use the term advisedly) outside the Waldron Centre is also cast into shadow as soon as the sun sets. There are four streetlights in the square, only one of which continues to shine doggedly onto the uneven and unfinished asphalt with its dead trees.

The lamp in the photo below may look like it's on, but in fact it's just being lit up by the lights behind the lettering.

Street lighting in Lewisham is the responsibility of Skanska and John Laing, who took it on in a huge 25 year PFI contract in 2011.

Lewisham Council's website includes an online reporting form which also lists the faults that might occur. Some of them - including any situation where three consecutive lights are out of order - are classified as 'emergencies'. These can only be reported by calling the freephone number, and the contractor promises a one-hour response to fix them.

Having struggled with this 'reporting' system in the past, I'm not surprised to hear from a correspondent who says they reported the Giffin Square lighting fail several weeks ago. So much for a one-hour response - surely it's just a case of putting new bulbs in?

Looks like we're going to remain in the dark for some time yet. Anyone want to do the mushroom joke?


Anonymous said...

Hear! hear! I came across your blog on this haphazardly while trying to find out more about the removal and reinstatement of the Deptford Anchor. As it turns out I had a very hard fall while crossing the open space in front of the Waldron Centre three weeks ago. The lighting was so poor I didn't see a raised area of concrete so my foot slammed into it and I went down directly onto my face. Result: a smashed and cut nose (I still cannot breathe properly through it), grazes to face, loss of most of one tooth, two teeth chipped, one put out of line, cut to inside of lower lip as it impacted on my teeth, minor trauma to left knuckle, exacerbation of existing sciatica, blood-soaked coat and gloves, and temporary loss of income. The photos of my face for the following three days are truly shocking. Fortunately, I got off quite lightly but one can imagine the injuries that might have been caused to someone less robust or the elderly.

A heartfelt thanks to the 'bright lights' of our community who helped me: The two men who rushed to my aid, one of whom took me over to the chemist and then up to the GP walk-in centre in the Waldron; the staff at the chemists; the reception staff at ground floor in the Waldron, the reception staff at the GP walk-in centre upstairs (note: the always busy walk-in centre that is being closed down!). And most especially the two wonderful nurses and one GP (not even my own surgery) at that centre who looked after me for two hours or so during their own very busy surgery. Not forgetting the two charming ambulance women and doctor at Lewisham A&E.

I am investigating further and taking my own pictures of the spot where I fell. Thank you for posting your piece with the example photographs and highlighting this issue.

Deptford Dame said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your fall, it's shocking that you sustained such injuries due only to want of working street lights. The lights outside the Waldron Centre have been out for at least a month, I remarked on it as I passed there before christmas. It seems crazy to me that the system seems to rely on public reporting to raise an alert about street lights that are not working - and in my experience, even when someone is sufficiently organised to make a report, the system fails. This seems to be the case in particular where lights are in a square or other public area where they don't have any identifying numbers with which they can be reported. I would encourage you to consider filing a claim for damages.

Chris said...

I hope it won't be Lewisham that has to fork out for damages (which Anonymous deserves). Does anyone know?

There's an old saying in the airline industry which applies here. If you think safety is expensive, try an accident.

Thank heavens that Anonymous also experienced the compassion, kindness and generosity that we all know exists in the real world which is divorced from the many of the numpties that rule over us.

Anonymous said...

I reported the Waldron Centre light to the council and got this response:

“Lewisham Street Lighting Contractor Skanska advise that this light is not on the Lewisham Contract and we believe these are managed by The Health Centre.
State changed to: not the council's responsibility”

Not really sure who to contact at the Health Centre about it...