by Saddleworth Indepenedent Editor Aimee Howarth
A Saddleworth Parish councillor is standing firm against a giant energy company seeking to install new lights in a picturesque hamlet near Diggle.
E.ON visited Harrop Green, a conservation zone, to check street lighting, but Cllr Royce Franklin, who lives in a cottage in the pretty copse of houses, was alerted to the visit
He contacted Parish Council and OMBC colleagues to raise issues about the lighting, which features original metal standards topped by old-style lamp heads.
He said: “Harrop Green residents take considerable pride in the conservation area.
“They do not want that spoilt by unnecessary additional lamps being erected which will not match the ones currently in use.
“Let us preserve the countryside as it is rather than contaminating it with yet more street lighting.”
And John McCann, an OMBC councillor who lives in Dobcross, is backing Cllr Franklin’s request to keep the original lamps.
He said: “Harrop Green is a lovely place. There is no need for modern lamp standards to prevail.
“This is a chance to make conservation communities even nicer. We need to press for these meetings to take place with villagers who have issues over their street lamps.”
This is the latest upset identified by residents since E.ON began to replace and install new street lighting in a joint Private Finance Initiative (PFI) between Oldham and Rochdale councils.
This will lead to a safer lighting environment and see a large proportion of the 23,000 street lights, 3,500 illuminated traffic signs, bollards and subway lights replaced over a five year period.
But many residents have complained about old lamp standards outside their homes being removed completely or new lights appearing in different positions on streets.
And, despite reassurances from Oldham Council, some villages with conservation property are concerned the new lamps may destroy the character of their rural community.
A spokesperson for E.ON in London said: “We have been in discussion with the Oldham and Rochdale councils regarding the plans for the new street lights in conservation areas.
“We understand the councils are in the process of consulting with the local community and local councillors to agree the new street light plans.
“We’re currently awaiting a decision from these discussions and at this time no columns are being replaced in conservation areas.”
Councillor Dave Hibbert, Cabinet member for Environment and Housing, said: “This work by EON is part of a huge project to transform street lighting across the borough – giving people a safer, lighter and more energy-efficient system.
“Officers regularly meet E.ON to look at the next areas involved in the programme. Part of this is to identify work due to take place in conservation areas and ensure this is handled correctly.
“Under the contract terms, each area must be lit to a specific standard and that may sometimes mean extra lights need to be installed.
“However, before any work takes place in conservation area all parties will be consulted prior to any work being carried out – including Ward members, for example, and local historical societies.
“If local residents have concerns about this officers and E.ON will be are happy to meet with them and discuss the plans.”