Crimelight

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Never ones to shy away from wasting money on contractors, the latest stunt by the elected representatives of the city is a planning triumph.

The townsfolk in charge of this city have recently pooled the taxes raised from its citizens. After seemingly embezzling some of it on a drug-fuelled party where they dreamed up next year’s budgetary allocation, they used the remainder to embark upon a programme of replacing every street light with another, slightly newer one on a different coloured pole.

I suspect the council have been under pressure to comply with some arbitrary, short-sighted energy recommendations like “thou must reduce emissions by 38% in the next ten years” which of course won’t take into account the economic and environmental impact of leafleting; promotion; website construction, operation and maintenance; fuel to drive the trucks; energy to power the machinery that installs the lighting; manufacture of the lights and poles; and disposal of the existing street furniture.

The local paper also stated that better street lighting reduces crime. The streets feel safer already. Sadly, the “light targeted downwards to reduce light pollution” is a bitch on the eyes when driving as it’s the perfect angle to refract into my face. Thus I now need to drive perched upright like a meerkat, with the sun visor down at night.

But I digress. I’ve been watching the progress of a few street lights near our house, and this is the process:

  1. Two men come out with a stick of chalk and make a mark on the pavement near the existing street light.
  2. Guys in a truck come and deposit cones and barriers nearby.
  3. A few weeks later, two men come out with a spade to clear any foliage that encroaches on the planned new pole site. They also use a fancy metal detector to check for cables/pipes and then jackhammer a hole in the pavement.
  4. A team of workmen — between six and eight of them — drive down the road a few weeks after that and winch new posts into the holes. A guy follows behind with bags of ready-mix tarmac to secure them to the ground.
  5. Some days later, two guys turn up in a cherry-picker to fit the lamps to the top of the poles.
  6. Nothing happens for a while, then two guys roll in with a jackhammer and carve out a 4-foot access trench in front of both existing new poles, including digging up the fresh tarmac the guy from step 4 laid.
  7. With the electric cable to the old pole now exposed and a natty slalom for pedestrians as they weave among the haphazard array of barriers, nothing happens for a few weeks.
  8. Eventually, two electricians appear with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, disconnect the old pole and shift the wire to the new one.
  9. A few days later three men with a colossal power saw shave off the old pole at street level, cut it up and shove it on their flatbed truck to whisk it away. Probably to toss it into landfill.
  10. Two guys pop by a few days later to fill in the trench with the hardcore dug out in step 6, finishing it off with more tarmac.
  11. Next day some guys come to collect the barriers.

I fully accept that I’m no civil engineer and do not appreciate the intricacies of a construction project of this magnitude, but that sequence of events strikes me as somewhat sub-optimal.

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