Robin ParkerHertfordshire County Council (HCC) claim that their street lights (which includes the vast majority of those in Stevenage) are scouted by HCC officers on a regular basis, so that if a light is faulty, it will be reported by the scouts without the need for it to be reported by others separately. This scouting is paid for by council taxpayers. The system however, does not work.

Local Chells county councillor and Manor borough councillor, Robin Parker, reports: “I have asked a number of times at meetings for the scouting schedule for my area (Chells) to be provided – but I have not got this. I have been told that scouting takes place about once a fortnight, so a given faulty light should be spotted as being in need of repair and should be repaired soon afterwards – without the need for me (or anyone else) to report it. For some years I have believed that this scouting does not in fact work and have always reported lights in need of repair, or other faults, myself.”

“Recently, I put the scouting service to the test. In September, I spotted two large street lights were out, on Danesgate, in Stevenage Town Centre, which is a busy area. They are definitely HCC lights because they are shown on the HCC assets map. I did not report them, to see how long it would be before they were spotted by scouts and repaired. By 8 November, they were still out, so I then reported them and they were repaired last week.”

“I chose these two lights because they are right outside the main offices of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC). One might have expected that SBC would have reported them, since they are right outside their main offices, but apparently they could not be bothered to report them either.”

“It is clear that council taxpayers are not getting value for money out of these ‘street light scouts’ It is not surprising really – when I made enquiries about them a year or two ago, I was told that all the scouts did was to drive along roads trying to spot lights that were not working. Obviously, scouts need to walk along each road, so they can see the numbers on the lights properly – as well as log other lighting faults like lit bollards, or road signs, that are out – difficult if not impossible when you are driving a car!”