Until this morning councilors were raging saying the traditional red, white and blue decorations that have adorned Cop Lane lampposts for decades would not be allowed – lest they topple the lampposts.
LCC has a new policy that lamposts must be stress tested – at a cost of £55 each – to check if they can safely withstand the extra weight of buntings.
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Penwortham Mayor Angela Turner has slammed Lancashire County Council’s ‘incompetent management’ – saying the council were never made aware of the new policy and LCC motorways staff even picked up the bunting to set it up Friday, before notification Tuesday there was a problem.
She said: “The money doesn’t come into it. It’s the lack of communication. No one has been in touch to say this needs to happen.”
She added: ‘I find it absolutely stunning that not only is the fabric bunting reputed to be capable of knocking down streetlights, but the timing couldn’t be worse.
“Residents are just beginning to regain a sense of normalcy after Covid and volunteers across the city have worked hard to make our first ‘Gala in the Park’ a major post-lockdown success.
“Coming back three days before the Jubilee weekend and holiday to tell us it’s absolutely appalling.”
But hours after Earl Turner wrote to LCC chief executive Angie Rigdwell and after inquiries from the Post, LCC announced that stress testing had begun and bunting was increasing.
What LCC said:
Charlie Edwards, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “Jubilee is a great time for people to come together and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen and we don’t want to stop anyone from doing that.
“Due to a misunderstanding the bunting did not come up as planned at Penwortham earlier this week but a council team will be out today to make sure he is up on time.
“They will also be checking where the bunting is hung, including testing the light poles, to ensure everything is done with public safety in mind.
“What we really want to avoid is that the buntings are hung inappropriately, for example if they are hung too low in a street, which could lead to a high-sided vehicle becoming entangled and pulling on the lighting columns.
“As part of our service, in addition to verifying lighting masts, we are also able to verify that event organizers have the necessary insurance for their activities.”
Although pleased with the change, Councilor Turner said the whole situation was “mismanagement by Lancashire County Council”.
She added: “They changed procedures and didn’t tell key people.”
Penwortham Town Manager Steve Caswell said: “There was a communication breakdown.
“The LCC has new stress testing guidelines, and I can see where they’re coming from. But the main thing is that the bunting will be in place.”
Mr Caswell said ‘discussions are still ongoing’ over who will fund the £55 per lamppost for testing.
Penwortham Gala takes place on June 11 and 12.