News / bristol city council

Policy of moving heritage lampposts to affluent areas of Bristol officially reversed

By amanda cameron, Tuesday Nov 12, 2019

City leaders have formalised a promise to stop moving Bristol’s old lampposts to more “well-to-do” parts of the city.

Elected mayor Marvin Rees made the promise in April after it emerged that the council was relocating historic lampposts from places such as Bedminster and Knowle to conservation areas such as Clifton and Stoke Bishop.

Branded “historical asset-stripping” by people of south Bristol, the decades-long practice was officially reversed by a written policy adopted by Bristol City Council last week.

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The “street lighting replacement programme” policy agreed by the ruling Labour cabinet on Tuesday (November 5) sets out the council’s commitment to “preserve cast iron street lighting in situ”.

The council will continue to refurbish the old lampposts but will return them to the street they were taken from, whether it be Beckington Road or Bell Barn Road.

Until April, heritage lampposts in non-conservation areas that needed repairing were taken away for refurbishment and replaced with modern steel lighting. The refurbished lampposts were then stored and used in conservation areas.

Cabinet member for transport and energy, Kye Dudd, said: “It was quite shocking to find out that this policy did operate.”

Dudd said the policy was not actually written down anywhere but was “something that became custom and practice over the years”.

“I think it symbolises some of the historic power imbalances in the city,” he said.

“It’s a class issue, from my point of view.

“We had a situation where very well-to-do neighbourhoods of the city, their heritage was being maintained, but the poorer parts of the city were having their heritage removed.

“We cancelled that policy because heritage shouldn’t just be for people that live in conservation areas – that live in Stoke Bishop, that live in Clifton – it should also be for people that live in Knowle.”

Dudd said that when cast iron lampposts can no longer be repaired they will be replaced with “a steel, galvanised modern lamppost with an embellishment”.

The city’s non-galvanised steel lampposts are rusting and will be replaced with columns of galvanised steel over the next two years.

All lamps will eventually be replaced with modern LED lighting when they come up for refurbishment.

The council is also investigating how to retrofit newer lamposts with charging points for electric vehicles.

Labour councillor Fabian Breckels said the new policy was about “respecting everybody’s heritage”.

He said: “It’s about being a city that listens to people and treats the whole city with respect and treats the heritage of every part of the city with respect, not just the posh bits.”

The city has more than 43,000 street lights. Just over 2,000 of them are cast iron and nearly 5,000 are non-galvanised.

Amanda Cameron is a local democracy reporter for Bristol

Read more: Rees: ‘The bridge, the gorge and balloons are not central to my city’s identity’

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