Some of the best presented and carefully formed speeches could have been heard at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting in the Town Hall recently. At this meeting the decision to remove 100-year-old lamp posts from Hanwell was called in. Hanwell residents justifiably and coherently questioned the loss of their street heritage to supply a 'Heritage Quarter' in Northfield and Walpole wards.
What was never mentioned in detail was the 25-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract signed in 2005. At two ring binders it is 20 times longer than the average PhD thesis. As such it may have been that the officers and cross party support that approved it like a sale into slavery because it is completely inflexible.
Things have changed even in a short time since it was signed.
Energy prices are rocketing but the contract will still insist on very high (and punishingly expensive) lighting levels outlined in the British Standard. Such lighting levels make it to use our cast iron heritage posts anywhere in the borough.
The owners of this lucrative contract were not available at this meeting to comment Ealing's PFI lighting contract is beginning to become a disaster.
We the public must insist that our politicians don't get involved in any more of these sorts of contracts.
They are expensive dangerous and particularly common in delicate health and education sectors.