Birmingham’s conservation areas are being hit by ‘disgraceful’ low-cost street lights because of council cash shortages, campaigners claim.
Modern lampposts are set to be installed in one of the city’s most famous conservation areas, Bournville Village , because city bosses do not have enough money.
The council and its roads contractor Amey have not got the extra cash to install specialist ‘heritage style’ lighting – sparking outrage from local campaigners.
At this week’s full council meeting it emerged paving stones in the conservation areas are also being replaced with tarmac – because there is no ‘like for like’ clause in the contract with Amey.
The historic streets are to get standard LED lampposts – currently being installed throughout the city – because they last longer than traditional bulbs, are more energy efficient and can be dimmed remotely to save energy.
Last year, contractor Amey consulted on proposed lights for the Bournville Conservation Area and agreed a design with residents in keeping with the Cadbury family’s original vision for the area.
Labour election candidate Steve McCabe said residents felt they had been ‘betrayed’ by the authorities.
He said: “I think it is an absolute disgrace that Amey have gone back on an agreement that was made with local Bournville residents last year.
“Local people are expected to keep a particular style of window in keeping with the conservation area and are penalised by the council if they don’t abide by the conservation rules – but it seems Amey can get away with doing what they like.
“I intend to take this up with the leader of the council and the chief executive to find out exactly what kind of contract they have with Amey because this simply is not acceptable.”
Bournville Village, built by George Cadbury to house workers from the chocolate factory, was designated a conservation area in 1971.
It offered workers ample homes, shops, a school and other community facilities.
Residents are not allowed to make external changes to properties, including installing modern features such as satellite dishes or UPVC window, or even paint the exterior of their homes without special permission from the planning authorities.
Amey is due to install the modern lights starting at the end of May. Although some heritage lighting was previously installed in the area, it has not found the cash for further upgrades.
In a joint statement from Amey and the city council, a spokeswoman said: “Amey is delivering highways improvements worth £350 million on behalf of Birmingham City Council, which includes the replacement of over 41,000 street lights between 2010 and May 2015.
“The majority of these will be upgraded to state-of-the-art LED lighting units as standard .
However, where local funding is made available, upgrades to heritage lighting can be accommodated within the programme of improvements.
“We understand the desire for heritage-style lighting in Bournville and have been working with the community to assist them in considering appropriate style lighting. This includes sourcing heritage lanterns and allowing Bournville additional time to raise funds for the upgrades before improvements are programmed in line with the service’s improvement completion targets.
“We have already helped to upgrade over 340 standard street lights to heritage style lanterns across the city, including 116 in Bournville,
“However, we do not currently have any agreements for further upgrades in the area. We will continue to work with the local community to help them secure enhanced schemes where possible.”