Police may be asked to investigate how historic lamps were offered for sale
A leading councillor has promised a full investigation and report after two historic street lamps ended up for sale on the internet.
And Brighton and Hove City Council may yet call in the police if it suspects that any criminal acts have taken place.
Green councillor Amy Heley told members of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee that she was “shocked at the strange events”.
Her remarks followed the removal of 20 historic lamps from Brighton seafront by the contractor Colas with a view to repairing and restoring them.
Councillor Heley said that Colas was given “explicit instructions” to store the grade II listed lamps safely until Historic England could inspect them.
During a “virtual” meeting today (Tuesday 24 November), she said that an urgent investigation was under way.
Councillor Heley said: “I understand the contractor is treating this very seriously and we are awaiting the outcome and whether or not we feel any criminal action has occurred and we will involve the police if appropriate.
“We have moved swiftly to seek assurance from Colas that the lanterns are being stored safely for inspection by Historic England.
“They have given their assurance and we have asked them to evidence this swiftly.”
She said that the leader of the council Phélim Mac Cafferty had written to Colas, highlighting the seriousness of the situation and asking for assurance that it would never happen again.
In his letter, Councillor Mac Cafferty asked for a public apology to the city.
He said: “I have been horrified that two of Brighton and Hove’s historic seafront lamps ended up on Facebook for sale.
“This is our city’s property and deserves the utmost care and attention from your company while you handle it – sadly missing with the work to temporarily remove the lamps.
“This is despite clear instructions not only being issued to Colas to remove and store the seafront lanterns safely but instructions which were understood and confirmed by your Colas employees.”
Councillor Mac Cafferty said that the council had a long-standing relationship with Colas and currently had a four-year contract worth £15 million to care for the Brighton and Hove’s street lights.
This includes lighting under Brighton railway station and in the Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Conservative councillor Lee Wares asked if officers could also look into where other heritage items were being stored across the city.
He said: “Not everyone knows where all this stuff is and what’s going to happen to it. This is a good opportunity to look at everything we’ve taken off.”
Councillor Heley said that she was assured it was possible.
Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said after the meeting: “I speak for all Labour councillors when I express my shock at the reports about the attempted sale of seafront lights.
“These lights are a key part of our heritage, instantly recognisable by their design and paintwork, and it’s a great shame that anyone would tarnish that for personal gain.”
The report about how the seafront lamps ended up on sale is expected to go before a future meeting of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
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This is APPALLING. I’d be interested to know what was wrong with the lamps that were removed if they were in good enough condition for that man to sell on Facebook.
How many lamps had he already sold? The other 18? It is very worrying that the council seem to have no idea what is happening to Brighton and Hove’s heritage assets.
Why are they trusting an outside contractor with this? Why not use their own Clerk of Works to oversee all works and store in their own storage facilities?
Sadly, paul, we no longer possess a Clerk of works or, with the exception of Cityclean and Cityparks, an overall Corporation Works Department which was swept away many years ago in that ‘Contracting out’ mania still prevelant to this day.
On the foolish pretext of ‘saving money,’ we have seen contractors come and go while the City deteriorates on a daily basis–SOME SAVING!
A large part of the problem involves this fixation by ‘Leading Councillors’ (sadly common to all denominations of our Administrations), tobe remembered for wholly needless VANITY PROJECTS where vast amounts of money have been spent initially only for contractors to be allowed to disfigure them, from virtually the word go, by shoddy workmanship—a perfect example of this being the former Environment Chair Gill mitchell’s New Road, where, just a few weeks after it’s £1 MILLION completion,the highly-polished granite sets at it’s North Street junction were ripped-up abd replaced with uneven blacktop, patches of which now proliferate along the length of this road! WHY WAS THIS CONTRACTOR NOT PERSUED?
Whilst on this subject, in the year 2000, under the auspices of my work for the now defunct Brunswick Community Association, I was appointed by the then Labour Council to chair the Western Road Regeneration Panel which approved the laying of York Stone slabs all along the South side of Western Road, Hove from the Brighton boundary at Little Western Street up to the Eastern corner of Brunswick Street West.
I have to say that they looked magnificent and for many years were a joy to walk on, in no small part because myself and other BCA members kept the council informed of any potential problems which might ocurr with them, and our wonderful Works Department lost no time in putting things to rights.
Well take a look at that stretch of pavement now—it’s enough to make one weep and just yesterday I noticed that contractors have pulled up a great many of them to the West of Brunswick Square in order to dig a deep trench.
I can tell you that I’m keeping a vigilant eye on this situation and should I spot any shortcomings in the workmanship I’ll be straight onto my local Councillors, WHO, as luck would have it, just so happen to be the Leader and Deputy Leader of our Council!
One final point though, Paul—whilst we have no Clerk of Works to whom we may appeal, we certainly have a good number of exceedingly well-remunerated top Council Officers, one or more of whose job descriptions MUST encompass authorising payment for this APPALLING state of affairs.
This is the action which my colleagues and myself are currently pursuing and it would be even better if your good self along with any other concerned citizens who treasure our heritage were to give serious consideration to doing likewise.
THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT, as they say,
Nothing is ever mentioned about the vast amount of Artefacts from the Museum which are stored all over the County.Surely there is an inventory somwhere and how often is it Audited.If they are Museum pieces then they are Heritage also.Please could somebody look into this.I know for a fact some items haven’t been seen by the Public for Decades.When I say vast amount if my memory serves me well then it is 2million pieces.
Perhaps if a Councillor reads this they might look into this please
I’m still angry at the sudden disappearance of a very long beautiful curl-back wood bench with ornate ironwork sides from a large area of pavement on Sackville Rd nr Blatchington Rd several years ago. The council claimed the metal broke. And they scrapped it.
I walked past it one Saturday going to the shops & coming back it was gone. i have always been clear it was intact & stolen. A nasty rough & filthy little thing replaced it when I complained which I forced the council to at least paint it.
A very good point, SaveHove and just lately I’ve noticed that benches all over the town are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Last week whe entering Tesco in Portslade, I simply had to sit down for a while to rest my weary leg but—lo and behold the seat just inside was gone!
On asking the security guard as to it’s whereabouts, I was told that it had been removed because of Covid so I was obliged to sit down in the cold on a low brick wall outside!
As regards your contention that the aforementioned bench was stolen, I believe you.
Many years ago now, whilst en reute to a Planning Committee Meeting in Hove Town Hall, I spotted a metal, heritage street sign for Donkey Mews in Brunswick, which had disappeared two days previously, for sale with a fifty pound price tag in a shop almost opposite the Town Hall so I went straight into the Planning Department and asked for someone to accompany me to that shop.
They refused on th grounds that they had no staff available so I went to the Meeting and, some hours later, the sighn had disappeared from the shop window.
So I’m afraid that this has been an ongoing problem for quite some time—but that doesn’t mean that this should continue to be the case—SOMETHING MUST BE DONE whilst we still have any heritage worth saving!!
I’ve just returned from travelling along Marine Parade westwards as far as Lower Rock Gardens and note that nearly half of the historic lanterns have been replaced with ugly modern lights. Where have they all gone and will the originals be returned?