Beware of the lamp posts!

OVER a third of all lamp posts surveyed in North Somerset are in danger of falling over - and there is not enough cash to fix them

OVER a third of all lamp posts surveyed in North Somerset are in danger of falling over - and there is not enough cash to fix them.North Somerset Council recently tested 626 concrete lighting columns across the district and revealed 217 are structurally unsound - 124 of these are in Weston's south ward and along the seafront.But the authority has a £4.8million backlog on repairing and replacing lighting columns and at £1,000 for each concrete column, it can only afford to fix 100 this year.Local councillors are now concerned the state of the poles could cause a health hazard and have pledged to get the problem solved.Cllr Mike Bell said: "Four street lights have collapsed since 1996 due to corrosion and fallen onto the highway. Fortunately there was no injury or loss of life but this shows the potential seriousness of the situation."I will look at how our street lights are maintained and make sure everything that can possibly be done to tackle the problem is being done."There are around 20,000 street lights and 23 per cent are more than 35-years-old and a cause for the greatest concern."The council has an annual budget of more than £850,000 for street lighting. However, the repairs and replacement backlog stands at £4.8million, so a lot of work needs to be done."The survey, which has so far tested 15 per cent of the authority's lighting columns, was carried out on the advice of the Government's Department of Transport.The guideline benchmark was to see whether the poles could withstand a 'one in 25 year windstorm.'A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "There are still a lot of columns to test. We've only been testing concrete columns at the moment and have been concentrating on those over 20 years old."Our next priority is to deal with those that have been identified as structurally unsound. Within that group we will have to prioritise the worst ones as, with the funding available, there is not enough money to fix them all."We're hoping by providing the information we have to the Government we might get more funding in the future."All those being repaired will be replaced with aluminium ones which have a 70-year shelf life as opposed to concrete ones, which only last 20 years.

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