Five years on and Havant bridge’s lights still don’t work

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HOW many years does it take to change a light bulb? Five, apparently.

Since vandals broke lighting on the Staunton Road foot bridge over the railway in Havant, in 2008, pedestrians have had to cross it in the dark at night because Hampshire County Council and Network Rail have failed to reach an agreement over the repair.

Although the council is responsible for the lighting, the rail firm must give permission for it to be repaired for safety reasons.

The council is waiting for permission from the rail company to be able to carry out the work.

Councillor Ann Buckley, who represents Bedhampton at the county council, is not happy about the delay.

She said: ‘The clocks will change soon and it will be the fifth winter without lighting.

‘This is a very well-used route. It’s appalling it has dragged on for so long.

‘Network Rail and the council need to improve their working practices.

‘They have totally failed local residents, there is no sense of urgency. A lot of residents have to use this route each day.’

The bridge is used as a short cut to the town centre.

In a statement the council said they were bound by strict safety restrictions and legal regulations but they signed off the legal paperwork two weeks ago.

It added: ‘In the meantime, we’ve improved the lighting on the approach to the footbridge as well as renewing the painted white lines on the steps of the bridge.

‘Once agreement with Network Rail has been secured, we will commission bespoke LED handrails to replace the original lighting on the footbridge, which was originally damaged as a result of vandalism.’

Network Rail would not be drawn on the reasons for the delay but released a statement.

It said: ‘Working on a footbridge over the railway presents an unusual set of circumstances.

‘It’s vital that we establish a set of safeguards – both legal and in methods of working – to protect people who are doing the work, and the public too.

‘As well as trains passing, there’s also electrification and signalling equipment present, all of which are unlike working in other locations, and once all the legal safeguards are in place, then work can begin.’