Exeter Part-Night Street Lighting | Progress update

EXETER PART-NIGHT LIGHTING WORKS
PROGRESS UPDATE – 20 May 2015

The implementation of part-night operation of street lights in Exeter began in September 2013 in Alphington and Cowick wards and involved the fitting of remote monitoring components into existing lanterns and replacement of existing lanterns that were not suitable. Similar work in Exwck and St Thomas wards began in October 2013.

Street lights in Alphington and Cowick started operating part-night in April 2014 and in Exwick and St Thomas in May 2014.

Each individual street light has a communication node fitted to it and up to 250 lighting units in an area are controlled by a Branch node located within the ward.

Communication between the nodes and branch and between the branch and central control is via air-borne radio communication and can be accessed via the internet. So it is possible to allocate switching profiles to individual and groups of lights so that they can operate all-night or part-night.

The efficient operation of this remote monitoring system relies on good radio communications and the geographic location of branch controllers, so that command instructions can be issued as necessary. The lights themselves will operate during the day for a day or two when first commissioned to indicate that the lights work and then operate dusk to dawn, or part-night as required. In some instances however, lights may be on during the day for longer than envisaged, either as a result of poor communications, or faulty components. In such instances it is necessary to reconfigure the communication network within the affected area and this is very much a trial and error process, so a quick resolution is not always possible.

Conversion work began in Duryard and Pennsylvania wards in June 2014 and lights started operating part-night in November 2014.

Conversion work began in St James ward in October 2014 and in St Davids ward in November, lights in both wards will remain operational all night.

Conversion work began in St Leonards and Priory wards in February and April respectively and it is envisage that works Polsloe and Newton wards will commence during June.

The table below gives details of units converted to-date in each ward with the remaining provisional implementation programme shown in descending order.

WARD PROGRESS PART-NIGHT OPERATION TOTAL NUMBER OF LIGHTS CONVERTED TOTAL NUMBER OF LIGHTS OPERATING PART-NIGHT
Alphington 99% Complete * Yes 1219 787
Cowick 99% Complete * Yes 444 353
St Thomas 99% Complete * Yes 400 307
Exwick 99% Complete * Yes 887 523
Duryard 99% Complete * Yes 194 143
Pennsylvania 99% Complete * Yes 634 461
St James 99% Complete * No 330 0
St Davids 99% Complete * No 673 0
Priory 90% Complete * Not Yet 245 0
St Leonards 90% Complete * Not Yet 311 0
Newtown Branch & new units No 5 0
Polsloe Branch & new units Not Yet 8 0
Pinhoe Branch & new units Not Yet 77 0
Mincinglake Branch & new units Not Yet 67 0
Heavitree Branch & new units Not Yet 31 0
Whipton Barton Branch & new units Not Yet 8 0
St Loyes Branch & new units Not Yet 9 0
Topsham Branch & new units Not Yet 20 0

*Although conversion works are substantially complete, there are a small number of lanterns that are of modern architectural design, or classic heritage type, that are not suitable for immediate conversion with the remote monitoring system. These lanterns may also be expensive to replace, or still have quite a long working life remaining.

As technology develops and when the bulk of the works are complete in Exeter as a whole, the wards will be revisited to see if there are affordable solutions to address these remaining lanterns.

Branch nodes, which control over 200 lighting units, have been installed in all wards, more than one in some wards. The remote monitoring equipment has also been installed where lanterns have been replaced, or developments have been taking place. These wards will not operate part-night until conversion works are substantially complete.

The history of Part-Night Street Lighting in #Cowick

It’s been a long convoluted journey leading to the introduction of Part-Night Street Lighting [PNSL] in Cowick on All-Fools’ Day on 01/04/4.

Devon County Council have been keen to introduce a scheme of switching of  non-essential street lighting between the hours of 12:30am and 5:30am for many years.

A new street lighting policy was approved in July 2007 (ref: EEC/07/216/HQ)

A decision to implement part night lighting in residential areas was approved in January 2009 (ref: EEC/09/8/HQ).

MWN announced the start of PNSL in Big Switch-Off in Devon on 08 October 2009

Back in 2009 justification was as a carbon saving measure (It is estimated that PNSL across the county could save up to 4,000 tonnes of CO2, but of late all the rhetoric has been about cutting the budget and saving money.

By August 2010, there was talk of a 6-month trial period of PNSL in Exeter – as reported by WMN in Council leaders are considering Part-night street lighting (28 Aug 2010).

I was selected to stand as Labour and Co-operative candidate in November 2010.

In December, I wrote A Bright Idea? highlighting the environmental advantages, but asking for the views of residents.

Just after i was elected in May 2011, I wrote to DCC asking what was being planned – but I received no response.

The next we heard was that  in April 2012, DCC Cabinet agreed to purchase a Street Lighting Monitoring System at an estimated cost of £1.7m

This was reported by WMN on 11 April 2012 in £1.7m cost of technology to turn off street lights.

The report carried a quote from Cllr Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation:  “The new system would allow the council more flexibility to manage, monitor or dim lights progressively, as traffic and pedestrian numbers dropped, and turn them on and off as needed.”

 Then in early 2013, we heard a rumour that DCC were planning to introduce PNSL across Exeter – no details, no timetable, nothing.It was thought DCC would just turn the lights off all over the city without any consultation – perhaps even doing across Exeter on one night?

The consultation on Exeter PNSL was (apparently) launched at the beginning of May 2013, but I first found out about the proposals almost a month later!

On 06 June 2013 Express and Echo outlined the PNSL proposals in a article In the dark? Much of Exeter faces blackout

Devon County Council has a dedicated website about PNSL for Exeter, and under proposals states: “Outline proposals have been developed with the help of local councillors, the police and other stakeholders.”

What that really means is that councillors both Exeter City Council and Devon County Council demanded a Members’ Briefing with DCC’s Street Lighting Team and Cabinet Members to discuss how PNSL would work in Exeter.

Once the consultation was underway, I wrote another Storify, Is DCC taking a dim view of Exeter with it’s *consultation* on PNSL?

Some of those themes were developed in More on PNSL

In  September 2013, E&E was talking about a leaked police report that raised major concerns over PNSL plans

17/04/14 | #ExeterPNSL starts on April Fools Day

16/08/14 | #TorbayPNSL or not?

12/11/14 | Bowhay Lane #Cowick

18/11/14 | #ExeterPNSL Part 3

29/11/14 | #ExeterPNSL

11/12/14 | #CowickPNSL

11/12/14 | #DCC meeting about #PNSL in #Exeter

22/12/14 | #PNSL according the Labour Party 

Update on #ExeterPNSL

Back in December I was part of delegation of West Exe cllrs who met with officers dealing with part-night street lighting for Exeter.

One of the topics I raised was the lack of information about problems and progress.

This update from Devon County Council showing the progress in the implementation of part-night lighting in Exeter indicates they have taken note of those comments.

The update will be formally presented at the Exeter HATOC meeting of 27 January and will be revised monthly.

EXETER PART-NIGHT LIGHTING WORKS      

PROGRESS UPDATE – 16 December 2014

The implementation of part-night operation of street lights in Exeter began in September 2013 in Alphington and Cowick wards and involved the fitting of remote monitoring components into existing lanterns and replacement of existing lanterns that were not suitable. Similar work in Exwck and St Thomas wards began in October 2013.

Street lights in Alphington and Cowick started operating part-night in April 2014 and in Exwick and St Thomas in May 2014.

Each individual street light has a communication node fitted to it and up to 250 lighting units in an area are controlled by a Branch node located within the ward.

Communication between the nodes and branch, and between the branch and central control is via air-borne radio communication and can be accessed via the internet. So it is possible to allocate switching profiles to individual and groups of lights so that they can operate all-night or part-night.

The efficient operation of this remote monitoring system relies on good radio communications and the geographic location of branch controllers, so that command instructions can be issued as necessary. The lights themselves will operate during the day for a day or two when first commissioned and then operate dusk to dawn, or part-night as required. In some instances however, lights have been on during the day for longer than envisaged, either as a result of poor communications, or faulty components.

These issues have affected a small percentage of lights so far converted and the County Council has been working closely with the system manufacturer to resolve these problems. In the main, a re-mapping of nodes and their branch controllers have been sufficient to improve communications, but in some areas it has been necessary to install additional branch controllers.

The County Council will continue to work closely with the system manufacturer in implementing this new technology in Exeter and using it to its full potential.

Conversion work began in Duryard and Pennsylvania wards in June 2014 and lights started operating part-night in November 2014.

Conversion work began in St James ward in October 2014 and in St Davids ward in November, lights in both wards will remain operational all night.

The table below gives details of units converted to-date in each ward with the remaining provisional implementation programme shown in descending order.

WARD PROGRESS PART-NIGHT OPERATION TOTAL NUMBER OF LIGHTS CONVERTED TOTAL NUMBER OF LIGHTS OPERATING PART-NIGHT
Alphington 99% Complete * Yes 1214 792
Cowick 99% Complete * Yes 441 331
St Thomas 99% Complete * Yes 398 305
Exwick 99% Complete * Yes 889 190
Duryard 99% Complete * Yes 193 143
Pennsylvania 99% Complete * Yes 634 462
St James 99% Complete * No 330 0
St Davids 99% Complete * No 218 0
Priory Branch & new units Not Yet 18 0
St Leonards Branch & new units Not Yet 6 0
Newtown Branch node only No 1 0
Polsloe Branch & new units Not Yet 4 0
Pinhoe Branch & new units Not Yet 20 0
Mincinglake Branch node only Not Yet 1 0
Heavitree Branch & new units Not Yet 21 0
Whipton Barton Branch & new units Not Yet 8 0
St Loyes Branch & new units Not Yet 3 0
Topsham Branch & new units Not Yet 31 0

* Although conversion works are substantially complete, there are a small number of lanterns that are of modern architectural design, or classic heritage type, that are not suitable for immediate conversion with the remote monitoring system. These lanterns may also be expensive to replace, or still have quite a long working life remaining.

As technology develops and when the bulk of the works are complete in Exeter as a whole, the wards will be revisited to see if there are affordable solutions to address these remaining lanterns.

Branch nodes, which control over 200 lighting units, have been installed in all wards, more than one in some wards. The remote monitoring equipment has also been installed where lanterns have been replaced, or developments have been taking place. These wards will not operate part-night until conversion works are substantially complete.

STORIFY INDEX | Part-Night Street Lighting

12/06/13 | Part Night Street Lighting

Is Devon County Council taking a dim view of Exeter with its *consultation* on Part Night Street Lighting?

14/06/13 | Members’ Briefing on #ExeterPNSL

16/06/13 | More on #ExeterPNSL

17/02/14 | #ExeterPNSL starts on April Fools Day

16/08/14 | #TorbayPNSL or not?

12/11/14 | Bowhay Lane #Cowick

18/11/14 |#ExeterPNSL Part 3

Part night street lighting roll-out continues in Duryard and Pennsylvannia

29/11/14 | #ExeterPNSL

11/12/14 | #CowickPNSL

11/12/14 | #DCCmeeting – #PNSL in #Exeter

22/12/14 | Part-night Street Lighting across the country

75% of councils in England are having to dim or switch off streetlights at night

03/01/14 | #ExeterPNSL

10/07/15 | #ExeterPNSL moves on to #Priory and #StLeonards

#Exeter street lights will stay off on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve

At Devon County Council’s Full Council meeting on 11/12/14 , Cllr Roy Hill [LAB, Alphington/Cowick] asked a number of questions about part-night street lighting in Exeter.

One particular question was:

Re: Streetlighting on 24th and 31st December 2014

Would Councillor Hughes consider keeping on those street lights on 24th and 31st December which have been switched off as part of the night time part street lighting?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES

The remote monitoring system that we invested in for Exeter provides for the option to switch lights back on without having to visit each individual lighting column. This is not the case in other areas of Devon where the remote monitoring system does not operate. However, the operation of part-night lighting was developed and agreed through a process of public consultation and Member input. This was to ensure that street lights that need to remain on all night are not converted to part night operation and remain lit all night, for example in areas of high night time activity, on main roads and on walking home routes. So whilst I would consider lights remaining lit on the 24th and 31st December in Exeter, I would need to understand why this is any better than the scheme that has been the subject of public consultation and Member agreement.

The reasoning behind this particular question goes all the way back to June 2013 when DCC Cabinet Members and Highways/Street Lighting officers gave a briefing on PNSL to cllrs – of all hues and from both Exeter City Council and Devon County Council.

I’ve just checked through my notes, tweets, storify feeds and blogs, but I can’t find what I was looking for.

At that briefing, I distinctly remember one of the representatives telling us that the £1.7m computerised Central Management System would be able to revert back to all-night street lighting for “special occasions” when more people than normal may be out and about in the dark – and I believe he even mentioned New Year’s Eve!

Earlier today, Roy forwarded a formal written response to his question at Full Council which sheds some light [yes, pun intended] on how DCC view such a request

Whilst it is technically possible to switch all of the lights on in Exeter on the 24th and 30th December, I think it is unnecessary give the consultation on the scheme and the care we have taken to develop the Exeter scheme. 

We have agreed that certain routes and areas in Exeter will remain lit including:

  • All main routes in the City,
  • A network of walking home routes developed through the consultation process,
  • Areas of high night time activity, like the city centre,
  • Areas under public Order CCTV surveillance,
  • Other lights agreed based on evidence and police support.

So, this leaves residential areas operating on a part night basis with the lights in those areas where Part-Night [Street] Lighting has been installed switching off between about 12:30 and coming back on at about 5:30. In these areas, people should be becoming familiar with the regime, which will operate throughout the year.

We have suggested that anyone planning to be out in a part-night lit area late at night carries a torch to illuminate part of their journey. 

The agreed approach on changing from part-night to full time operation of a light is to base a decision on evidence, which in needs to be supported by the police in the case of fear of crime. So, if there is any evidence that can be used to justify a change we can look at this but otherwise, given the process we have been through, I don’t see the need to make a wholesale change to the agreed scheme.

The response makes no mention of those “special occasions” when more people may be taking to the streets in the dark – and so it looks like the next “special occasion’ might be the arrival of the next millennium!

So if you’re planning to be out and out after midnight, please stay safe AND REMEMBER YOUR TORCH

BhRG78CIcAAHVfN

.

Questions about Cowick Part-Night Street Lighting asked at DCC Full Council Meeting

At Devon County Council’s Full Council meeting on 11/12/14 , Cllr Roy Hill [LAB, Alphington/Cowick] asked a number of questions about part-night street lighting in Exeter.

7. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR HILL

Re: Streetlighting on 24th and 31st December 2014

Would Councillor Hughes consider keeping on those street lights on 24th and 31st December which have been switched off as part of the night time part street lighting?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES

The remote monitoring system that we invested in for Exeter provides for the option to switch lights back on without having to visit each individual lighting column. This is not the case in other areas of Devon where the remote monitoring system does not operate. However, the operation of part-night lighting was developed and agreed through a process of public consultation and Member input. This was to ensure that street lights that need to remain on all night are not converted to part night operation and remain lit all night, for example in areas of high night time activity, on main roads and on walking home routes. So whilst I would consider lights remaining lit on the 24th and 31st December in Exeter, I would need to understand why this is any better than the scheme that has been the subject of public consultation and Member agreement.

8. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR HILL

Re: Streetlighting and Road and Pavement Works

Would Councillor Hughes be able to ensure liaison between the Council and other bodies where road and pavement works are underway, so that night lighting is kept on at the site for safety reasons?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES

Procedures will be put in place to ensure that where necessary and as far as possible street lights are on at night in the vicinity of roadworks.

9. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR HILL

Re: Streetlighting and Adverse Weather

Could Councillor Hughes say whether plans are in place to switch street lights back on in adverse weather conditions such as snow?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES

Part night lighting only operates in residential area. Main roads and agreed walking home route in communities remain lit all night. Where lights operate on a part-night basis, they are only switched off between about 12:30 and 05:30 when pedestrian and traffic flows are low. So, no plans are in place to switch lights to all night operation when it snows as there is no evidence that this will provide any benefit to the travelling public. However, in exceptional circumstances like the floods that occurred in Braunton in recent years, if we were able to switch to all night lighting to help the community deal with a major incident, we would liaise with emergency services and make the necessary change.

10. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR HILL

Re: Streetlighting and Safety Issues

What are the criteria for switching street lights back on in the event of safety issues being identified by residents (e.g. those who go to work before 5.30am) in part night time street lighting areas?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES

We have been clear in our communications on the areas affected by part night lighting, the hours of operation. We have suggested that if people plan their journey between about 12:30 and 05:30 in an area that has street lighting that operates on a part-night basis it would be sensible for them to carry a torch. This is what happens in communities or roads that do not have street lights installed. However, we have agreed to review part-night lighting if a safety issue is raised and the police support the view that switching lighting back to all night light would be beneficial. The criteria we use is the weight of evidence of a benefit which is provided by the police.

 

Part-night street lighting West of Exe – a review meeting

So we’ve finally had that meeting to review how part-night street lighting has been working West of Exe – and from my perspective in Cowick.

Joining me were Cllr Roy Hill (Alphington/Cowick) and Cllr Rob Hannaford (Exwick/StThomas), who sit on Devon County Council and Cllr Margaret Clark who represents Alphington on Exeter City Council.

The meeting was confrontational and fiery as we 4 councillors tried to sum up your (and our) frustrations about PNSL. Here’s some of the key points

During the lead-up to the introduction of PNSL (which started in Alphington and Cowick on All Fools’ Day in 2014), we were told that Exeter was no different from the rest of Devon…what in reality this meant was that “implementing the policy was perceived as no different”

I challenged them that of course if was different as Exeter was to use a different system to the rest of Devon, where the street lights are switched on and off by a time-switch.

Part-night street lighting in Exeter is controlled by a brand-new £1.7m computer-based Central Management System [CMS] approved by DCC Cabinet at a meeting on 11 April 2012 which allowed for much more flexibility and control over Exeter’s street lights.

The report that went to that meeting said: “The system would enable the County Council to dim or switch-off street lighting for part of the night. It would enable a combination of the two, so that lighting levels could be reduced progressively as traffic and pedestrian flows fall off, and then switch off for a period of the night. It would allow part-night lights to be switched back on in an emergency. It would identify lamp failures and lamps reaching end of life thus enabling a targeted approach to lamp replacement

I asked which system had been chosen and when. The officers from DCC confirmed that Harvard’s LeafNut system had been chosen, and  this was the preferred system referred to in the report that went to DCC Cabinet in April 2012.

Then the officers added something that came as something of a surprise…”there is no perfect system out there” . That’s what I wrote down at the time and is as close to verbatim as I can get,

So how does Harvard’s LeafNut CMS work?

LeafNut uses a TrunkNode central web server to communicate by GSM mobile phone to the BranchNode control units mounted in the light. The BranchNodes are in wireless communication with up to 256 LeafNodes, which are linked directly to an electronic ballast in each street light.

In setting-up the system, individual street lights need to be on (“day burn”) for a couple of days – No, I don’t know why, either!

When the area BranchNode loses contact with the individual LeafNodes, the whole system goes into a fail-safe” mode, which means that the street lights controlled by that BranchNode come on…even during the daytime!

Apparently, finding suitable locations for the BranchNodes is a matter of some “trial and error, however uncomfortable that may be” (close to a direct quote)

So this has led the officers to confirm to us that the implementation of PNSL “has not been problem-free” , there was “lots of hassle”, and they “were disappointed with the disruption” (again, direct quotes!). But the officers did confirm they were doing their best to reduce the impact of the problems

Whatever my thoughts on the PNSL policy, DCC were going to implement it across vast areas of Exeter, so I have taken the pragmatic approach to ensure that in practice the policy was as safe as possible. To this end, I welcomed DCC intention to be able switch on specific street lights “at the flick of a switch” if requested by Devon & Cornwall Police and other Blue Light services in emergency situations.

Through some recent correspondence, it became apparent that this system hasn’t been put in place, let alone tested, in the 7 months that street lights West of Exe have been operating as PNSL

And the officers’s response to my shock and anger this failing was that they didn’t see it as a priority and wanted to sort out the other problems besetting the system first. I AM HORRIFIED BY THIS STATEMENT and we’ve got an assurance that this will be dealt with within the next 2 weeks.

Now onto those 06:00 rather than 05;30 ends to the PNSL cycle. The initial report to DCC Cabinet said that the CMS would enable DCC to swtitch-off and DIM  street lights.

What was planned was that the lights would come back on at 05:30 and at 06:00 would start to progressively dim, until natural light levels would switch them off for the daytime.

A major computer software update took place and officers were *unaware*that they had to carry-out a two-part instruction to complete the update – this resulted in the switch-on and dimming phases both starting at 6a. Hopefully this is now rectified?

That led on to a discussion keeping residents up-to-date about progress on part-night street lighting.

When WoE councillors were told about the impending start of the big switch-off, my Cowick colleague (Cllr Heather Morris) was told that DCC would use traditional mainstream media.

What this meant in practice was that DCC issued a media release on 31/03/14 when PNSL came to Cowick at 00:30 on 01/04/14. Thus it was reported on the Express And Echo  website ahead of the switch-off but was only reported in the weekly print edition on 03/04/14.

But ahead of that, Heather and I did our best to make everyone in Cowick aware, whether face-to-face on the doorstep and meetings, in our newsletters and on social media presence. I know that I did at least 2 radio interviews with Matt Woodley for BBC Devon’s Good Morning Devon and one for Spotlight.

Since then , there’s been 3 issues of the Exeter Citizen, each with an insert from DCC but no mention of PNSL. Surely a publication delivered FREE to each and every household and business in Exeter would be a good vehicle to let the residents of Exeter keep up-to-date with the progress of PNSL? The officers didn’t know how to access those pages…we let them know.

With all the problems besetting PNSL over the river, you would have thought that this would be a good time to delay the roll-out to other parts of Exeter? But no, DCC issued a media release dated 17/11/14 for PNSL to start in the wards of Duryard and Pennsylvania on 19/11/14.

Yet during the meeting the officers let slip that it didn’t start there until “last night” (yes, another direct quote) –  that would have been 27/11/14, EIGHT days after the advertised date. No wonder, citizens of Exeter are confused about PNSL.