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Councillors claim victory after getting Belsize street lights replaced – but few seem to notice

PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 May 2013

Cllr Jonny Bucknell and Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland before their intervention

Cllr Jonny Bucknell and Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland before their intervention

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Belsize councillors Jonny Bucknell and Claire-Louise Leyland proved they know how to get stuff done this week – especially when it comes to street lamps.

When a change to energy-saving bulbs left the lights in Belsize Square dimmer than usual, there were worries the street might be transformed into a thieves’ paradise.

“It looked like a gloomy stage set,” said Cllr Bucknell, who sped over in his G-Wiz electric car to investigate. “I am not sure whether we will be mugged or arrested for looking like a couple of muggers!”

The duo got straight onto Camden Council, and thanks to their lightning-fast intervention, the original bulbs were replaced and the street once again bathed in a warm and safe-feeling glow within a few days.

You might think that would be the end of it, but not for this industrious duo.

Not ones to shun the limelight, they posted flyers through letterboxes up and down Belsize Square to inform residents of their intervention (and to lavish praise on the council officers who remedied the situation).

Which, it turns out, was the first many people heard of the saga.

Heathman struggled to find a single soul who noticed the dim lighting prior to the councillor’s publicity blitz after popping down to Belsize Square.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I would not have noticed at all, but I got a letter from the Conservatives. It was very self-congratulatory.

“However, I guess they responded to demand, so good on them.”

Heathman eventually found lawyer Gill Mansfield, 42, who was first to admit spotting a difference. She said the colour of the lights had changed – but she could not tell if the lamps were now brighter or darker. “It’s not been a problem,” she added.

Finally, ceramics artist Dana Lazarus-Cass, 52, was decidedly impressed at how quickly the matter was resolved.

She added: “They did become too dim – it went from a well-lit street to darkness. I walk my dog late at night and it was quite scary.”

In a final twist in the tale, Prabhat Vaze, 43, an economist, called for the energy-saving bulbs to be brought back. Heathman now understands the council is working hard on a solution that is both green and bright. Watch this space.


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