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STAFFORDSHIRE: Biddulph miner’s lamps

STAFFORDSHIRE: Biddulph miner’s lamps

Image: Google

A row has broken out at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) over a set of miners’ lamps in Biddulph.

The lamps, on the roundabout near the town’s fire station, have fallen into a state of disrepair and locals have complained about their shabby appearance.

Cllr Jill Salt said: “It’s embarrassing, they’re just a heap of rotting mess and it’s really awful.”

She added: “It’s kind of a gateway from the old council estate through to the new housing estate – and you’ve got loads of surrounding schools.

“People feel the mining heritage in Biddulph is being eroded and ignored. People are frustrated that they’ve been allowed to rot and get into such a state.

“People feel that miners’ estates that they were left on don’t matter to the council. There’s a lot of anger and frustration.”

After looking into the issue, SMDC concluded that the lamps can’t be repaired in situ and that they will need to be removed for repair as they are encased in concrete.

Council leader Sybil Ralphs said a crane will be required to remove them, before they’re taken to the authority’s Fowlchurch depot in Leek to be assessed.

Speaking at the full council meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Ralphs said: “I understand Cllr Salt’s frustration that those deteriorating miner’s lamps on the roundabout in Biddulph are still there.

She explained: “We’ve had to put it out for tender, we just can’t go and get them off the roundabout and take them away.

“We have found a company that are able and prepared to remove the lamps, we just have to get a date when they will come and do the work.”

Cllr Ralphs also said there was previously some confusion over who was responsible for the upkeep of the flowerbeds on the roundabout, and that this has now been resolved with an external contractor.

The meeting also heard a difference of opinions about the potential cost of repairing the lamps.

Cllr Ralphs said the overall cost would be £2,500 but Cllr Salt questioned this figure, saying she’d been informed by officers that the eventual price tag could be as much as £20,000.

She asked for assurances from the council leader that the lamps will be restored and still have working lights when the work is complete.

Cllr Ralphs responded: “I cannot reassure you. They are in a very, very precarious state.

“I cannot assure you that they will be taken away in their whole, and I cannot assure you that they will be brought back in a fit state – none of that is possible until they’ve actually been removed from the roundabout.”

Cllr Salt said she felt a lack of communication was disappointing, and that it had led to councillors’ time being wasted by discussing the issue at full council.

Speaking after the meeting, she said: “We’ve had no timeline, and no assurances that they’ll be fully restored, other than to say they will be removed to the Fowlchurch depot and assessed there.

“What is most disturbing is: why have they been allowed to get to that state in the first place? Why wasn’t there a maintenance plan for them? Why haven’t they been tended to? Why have they just been ignored and allowed to rot?”

She said: “I hope that they are fully restored, if they’re lost it’ll be a tragedy.

“If they can’t be restored, they need to be replaced in kind – maybe not with the same design, but there needs to be some form of public art, that the public are happy with, if the lamps can’t be restored.”

Words: Richard Price, Local Democracy Reporter

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