Villagers left like a “war zone” after street-lighting repair work stalls

Work on new streetlights in Melbourn High Street, has been left half-finished. Pedestrians have to w

Work on new streetlights in Melbourn High Street, has been left half-finished. Pedestrians have to walk in the road because of it - Credit: Archant

VILLAGERS say they are angry at being left in the dark over streetlight replacement work.

Work began in December to replace the lights in Melbourn, and is being carried out by Balfour Beatty on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council.

However, Melbourn Parish Council is concerned that the improvements, which were started in mid-December and were due to be completed over a period of six to eight weeks, are still ongoing, and that pavements in the village are difficult to navigate.

Councillors discussed the problems at their meeting on Monday.

Cllr Jose Hales told the Crow: “We’re not happy because this has been going on for far too long. The High Street, from one end of the village to the other, is littered with deep holes where electrical cabling is exposed. The barriers they have put up are very flimsy and don’t have any lights on them.

“The pavements in Melbourn are narrow anyway. Outside the butcher’s shop at the moment there is only about 18 inches of pavement available for people to walk on, which is barely wide enough for a person, let alone a buggy or wheelchair.

“We are extremely concerned about the safety aspect because people are having to walk on the road.”

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Contractors have already had to move several newly installed lights after complaints that they had been put in the wrong place, blocking windows or shining directly into people’s homes.

The parish council has written to county councillor Susan van de Ven, asking her to raise the issue at Shire Hall.

Cllr Van de Ven said: “Melbourn now looks like a war zone with its trenches and fallen barriers and is far less safe to move about in than it was before this project began.

“We have to remind ourselves that this is a public service project, and wonder why are we having to fight every step of the way for mistakes to be corrected.”

A spokesman for Balfour Beatty said: “The process used to complete this upgrade involves work being carried out in stages. At present we have dug trenches in the area to allow electrical connections to be carried out before the new lights can be reinstated.

“The reinstatement phase commenced on the High Street in Melbourn yesterday (Wednesday, February 27) and we anticipate this work will be completed by Sunday, March 3.

“Each time we dig a trench to complete these upgrade works we put a barrier in place to protect the general public. Ensuring the safety of the local community is our main priority, and we request that the general public lets us know when a barrier has been knocked over via the free phone number printed on it.

“We work with a response team whose responsibility it is to drive out and rectify the issue.”