Christmas lights debacle leaves cafe owner upset

NOT HAPPY Helen Mandrupson, owner of Cafe Moka, put up Christmas lights in Wellington Way, Waterlooville, but was told it will take three months to get permission to turn them on   '''''            Picture: Allan Hutchings (143399-298)
NOT HAPPY Helen Mandrupson, owner of Cafe Moka, put up Christmas lights in Wellington Way, Waterlooville, but was told it will take three months to get permission to turn them on ''''' Picture: Allan Hutchings (143399-298)

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FED up that her small parade of shops had missed out on Christmas lights again, cafe owner Helen Mandrupson decided to take the matter into her own hands.

She invited customers of Cafe Moka in Wellington Way, Waterlooville, to her own mini lights switch-on where she was planning to give out steaming mugs of hot chocolate and mince pies to say thanks for their custom over the year.

She bought her own lights and asked the local authority if she could plug them into the nearby lamppost’s electricity – but was told it would take at least two months to get permission. She said: ‘Over the past 10 years businesses in Wellington Way have been totally overlooked. We pay very high business rates and yet we get anything in return.

‘We never get lights here so I decided to put them up myself.

‘I contacted Hampshire Highways (which is responsible for the street) and was told I’d have to send them a copy of my public liability insurance, which I did.

‘Southern Electric had to come out to check the lamppost was still working. It is.

‘But I had to get a separate PAT test done by a private electrician on the lights – which I can’t afford.

‘I sent off to get permission to actually install the lights but they say it’s going to take at lease a couple of months.

‘So I settled for battery-powered lights outside but was told Environmental Health would have to come out and measure how high they are. How much time and money is all this costing the authorities?

‘Instead I will just have lights up in my shop and a Christmas tree but I’m angry that bringing a bit of Christmas spirit to Wellington Way has proved so difficult.’

Havant councillor Paul Buckley, who is vice chairman of the Waterlooville Community Association said it was the organisation that which secured funding for the lights in the main shopping area in London Road.

Cllr Buckley added that he hopes next year enough money will found to extend the lights to the south of London Road, to the Clock Tower, and to Wellington Way and The Boulevard.

No-one from Hampshire County Council’s highway department was available for comment.