Good news on Clapham Common: the street lights running from the Bandstand to the abandoned toilets by the South Circular road are finally having a major overhaul. This particular row of a dozen or so lights has been very problematic over the last year or so, with the entire route plunged in to darkness for months at a time (and none of the repairs seeming to last more than a few weeks).
Maybe tragic recent events were the key to these works getting underway, or maybe complaints beforehand finally led to a result. Lambeth (who manage the whole of the Common) have recognised that something is fundamentally wrong with the way these were originally installed, that the underground cable has a problem that cannot be solved, and that they need to start over again – so the supply cable powering the lights is being completely replaced. A new cable supply trench has been dug and these lights are to be connected to a new power supply. Temporary solar lights are in place during the works.
There’s been a wider debate about whether more lights are needed on the Common. And there are valid arguments on both sides: on the one hand, better lighting does improve safety, and in a dense urban area with a lot of people having to cross the Common or take long detours, the case for minimising danger is a strong one. But on the other – the Common (and especially the wooded area) is a wildlife haven and lighting it up is damaging to bats, and it makes sense to focus lighting on the maim commuting routes through the middle of the Common that are already lit at night rather than lighting everything and giving a false sense security on other little-used paths with poor visibility.
But the case for repairing these is clear: it’s the final stretch of an otherwise well-lit and well-used path to cross over the Common, and having this one section not lit is clearly not safe! Hopefully these major repairs will finally put an end to the problems.