East Lancs M65 lights switch-on 'would cost £2m'

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: The Lancashire Telegraph is campaigning to get the lights switched back on The Lancashire Telegraph is campaigning to get the lights switched back on

A MOTORWAY boss has said it would be ‘impossible’ to switch the M65 lights back on without a completely new system costing £2m.

East Lancashire MP Andrew Stephenson said the admission from the Highways Agency, which manages a section of the motorway, meant it was in a ‘no way back situation’.

And the fiancée of a man who died on the stretch just days after complaining how dark the road was, has branded the circumstances ‘disgusting’ and ‘a joke’.

The Lancashire Telegraph launched its Turn The Lights On campaign at the end of November after the death of Burnley-born Mark Burgess, 39, near junction eight of the M65.

The father-of-two’s car smashed into the barrier and, although it is not known if lighting was a factor in that incident, motorists who crashed into the debris said they were unable to see it because the road was so dark.

Just days before the crash, Mr Burgess himself had complained to his fiancée about how dark the road was and described it as an 'accident waiting to happen'.

But Matt Sweeting, the Highways Agency's divisional director based in Manchester, told the Lancashire Telegraph the lights could not be switched back on.

He said this was because the columns had been allowed to come to the end of their working lives after it was deemed safe enough to permanently switch off the lights between junctions seven and 10.

He said factors such as improved headlights on cars, shorter stopping distances and drivers’ competency improving were reasons for the road becoming ‘safer’.

Mr Sweeting said: “With the full switch off, we have decommissioned the lights and they cannot be used anymore.”

Mr Burgess’ fiancée Kirsty Tipping, who lives in Abbey Village, near Chorley, said: “To me, it does not matter how much it costs if it could save lives.

“It seems ridiculous, a joke, that they cannot switch them back on. Surely they can find a cheaper way.”

The Highways Agency, which manages the motorway from junction one to 10, turned the lights out between junctions seven and 10 in 2011 to reduce carbon emissions.

Junctions 10 to 14, where the lights are turned off between midnight and 5am, are maintained by Lancashire County Council.

Mr Stephenson, who represents Pendle, wrote to the government department for transport on behalf of a constituent who was concerned about how dark the road was.

In the reply he received from Robert Goodwill, minister responsible for the Highways Agency, Mr Stephenson was told that even though the lampposts were still in place, it was not possible to turn the lights on because the internal systems were broken.

In the letter, Mr Goodwill said: “Where lighting is switched off permanently, the lighting columns are removed as soon as possible, for example, where the agency has other works planned on its network.

“I realise that in the meantime, motorists may gain the impression that the lighting could be switched on again.

“This is not the case, as once the lighting has been permanently switched off, it cannot be switched on again.”

But Mr Goodwill has now promised an ‘in depth review’ of the situation, which was welcomed by Mr Stephenson.

He said: “I appreciate the minister taking time to set out in detail why the Highways Agency took the decision to turn off the lights on their section on the M65 in March 2011.

“The minister makes clear that this is about reducing carbon emissions and is only done on motorways where it will not compromise safety.

“However, I welcome his assurance that there will be a more in depth analysis of the safety record on the M65 since the lights were switched off.

“From what he says about the current lighting having reached the end of its serviceable life and needing to be replaced, it is clear that turning the lights back on would not be as easy as some think.

“However, if it is shown that the lack of lighting has led to an increase in accidents on the M65, I would still support the campaign to re-light this section of the motorway.”

To sign the Lancashire Telegraph petition to have the lights switched back on, visit www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk

Comments (19)

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7:03am Mon 6 Jan 14

mys says...

Mmmm says it all doesn't it,we pay enough tax in this country but get nothing back eh,these pen pushers won't get to fill there back pockets if they put these lights back on they'd rather see people get killed,says it all about this government .
Mmmm says it all doesn't it,we pay enough tax in this country but get nothing back eh,these pen pushers won't get to fill there back pockets if they put these lights back on they'd rather see people get killed,says it all about this government . mys

7:14am Mon 6 Jan 14

hasslem hasslem says...

what utter nonsense from the highways agency - improved headlights and better stopping distances - maybe the tooth fairy exists too - it makes it sound like the m65 opened in 1955.

£2m sounds like a random figure plucked out of the air.

does the highways agency take the public for mugs?
what utter nonsense from the highways agency - improved headlights and better stopping distances - maybe the tooth fairy exists too - it makes it sound like the m65 opened in 1955. £2m sounds like a random figure plucked out of the air. does the highways agency take the public for mugs? hasslem hasslem

7:26am Mon 6 Jan 14

BelTower says...

hasslem hasslem wrote:
what utter nonsense from the highways agency - improved headlights and better stopping distances - maybe the tooth fairy exists too - it makes it sound like the m65 opened in 1955.

£2m sounds like a random figure plucked out of the air.

does the highways agency take the public for mugs?
I think the simple answer to that is.....yes they do!
[quote][p][bold]hasslem hasslem[/bold] wrote: what utter nonsense from the highways agency - improved headlights and better stopping distances - maybe the tooth fairy exists too - it makes it sound like the m65 opened in 1955. £2m sounds like a random figure plucked out of the air. does the highways agency take the public for mugs?[/p][/quote]I think the simple answer to that is.....yes they do! BelTower

8:04am Mon 6 Jan 14

Nelson J says...

Dear Mr. Sweeting
By switching the lights off to save a few bob your Highways Agency has purposefully allowed the lights to come to the end of their working life and it is now going to cost 2 million pounds to replace them. UNBELIEVABLE!!!

I hope the Telegraph have got their facts wrong again on this one!
Dear Mr. Sweeting By switching the lights off to save a few bob your Highways Agency has purposefully allowed the lights to come to the end of their working life and it is now going to cost 2 million pounds to replace them. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I hope the Telegraph have got their facts wrong again on this one! Nelson J

8:58am Mon 6 Jan 14

DaveBurnley says...

"But Mr Goodwill has now promised an ‘in depth review’ of the situation, which was welcomed by Mr Stephenson."

Don't build your hopes up, all that will happen is that the file will sit in a 'pending' tray for six months, after which it will be returned for 'no further action'.
"But Mr Goodwill has now promised an ‘in depth review’ of the situation, which was welcomed by Mr Stephenson." Don't build your hopes up, all that will happen is that the file will sit in a 'pending' tray for six months, after which it will be returned for 'no further action'. DaveBurnley

10:08am Mon 6 Jan 14

FakeVilla_MTCabinet says...

2 million is probably about right, but then again its better spending that kind of money than having one more death due to bad lighting
2 million is probably about right, but then again its better spending that kind of money than having one more death due to bad lighting FakeVilla_MTCabinet

10:20am Mon 6 Jan 14

buckoff says...

If this is true about the lights people are wasting there time with this because they will not put in new lights that will then be ripped out again, when the M65 is widened to three lanes. A more sensible solution would be to drop the speed limit to 50mph after dark. yet the simple solution is to drive at the speed the individual is capable people seem to think whatever the speed limit is that is the minimum speed limit. I travel the full length at night and the majority do travel slower due to the visibility.
If this is true about the lights people are wasting there time with this because they will not put in new lights that will then be ripped out again, when the M65 is widened to three lanes. A more sensible solution would be to drop the speed limit to 50mph after dark. yet the simple solution is to drive at the speed the individual is capable people seem to think whatever the speed limit is that is the minimum speed limit. I travel the full length at night and the majority do travel slower due to the visibility. buckoff

10:30am Mon 6 Jan 14

vicn1956 says...

This sounds like something a banana republic would spout!
This sounds like something a banana republic would spout! vicn1956

10:58am Mon 6 Jan 14

A Darener says...

There are two solutions to the current problem.
1. If you are driving at night in the dark then take extra care and drive within a safety margin.
2. If you do not feel safe driving on unlit roads then don't! Stay at home!
There are two solutions to the current problem. 1. If you are driving at night in the dark then take extra care and drive within a safety margin. 2. If you do not feel safe driving on unlit roads then don't! Stay at home! A Darener

11:19am Mon 6 Jan 14

Craig Simpson says...

I seriously hope the Lancashire Evening Telegraph are not going to take these glib responses lying down, the general public are aware how dangerous this stretch of the M65 has become since the Fat Controllers decided to penny pinch at the expense of motorists lives. Mr Sweeting is obviously delusional if he feels this stretch of motorway is somehow 'safer', if he espouses remarks like this in the face of a public response which clearly expresses concern then he's not fit and responsible for the position he holds.
Anyone who frequently drives down this stretch of Motorway will tell you it's a total nightmare, add the glare from other cars and street lighting from neighbouring houses, torrential rain and strong winds into the affray and it's little wonder it's an accident waiting to happen. Over the last few years the words 'Duty of Care' have been heavily banded about, I see a total lack of any care for the general public's health & safety when clearly 'efficiency savings' take priority over peoples lives. It's interesting to note that one excuse offered for this is the reduction in carbon emissions…….one has to wonder if they think the carbon footprint of any life lost has now achieved that goal.
I seriously hope the Lancashire Evening Telegraph are not going to take these glib responses lying down, the general public are aware how dangerous this stretch of the M65 has become since the Fat Controllers decided to penny pinch at the expense of motorists lives. Mr Sweeting is obviously delusional if he feels this stretch of motorway is somehow 'safer', if he espouses remarks like this in the face of a public response which clearly expresses concern then he's not fit and responsible for the position he holds. Anyone who frequently drives down this stretch of Motorway will tell you it's a total nightmare, add the glare from other cars and street lighting from neighbouring houses, torrential rain and strong winds into the affray and it's little wonder it's an accident waiting to happen. Over the last few years the words 'Duty of Care' have been heavily banded about, I see a total lack of any care for the general public's health & safety when clearly 'efficiency savings' take priority over peoples lives. It's interesting to note that one excuse offered for this is the reduction in carbon emissions…….one has to wonder if they think the carbon footprint of any life lost has now achieved that goal. Craig Simpson

5:17pm Mon 6 Jan 14

phil kernot says...

This wiring was ripped out on purpose in case Sombody wanted them on again ,, ,,, it's about time we had a revaloution because those who think thay run the country don't listen to what the majority want ,, I'd vote for one turning a few lights off and china and third world country's pumping out more harmfull **** than you can think off we have to comply to iron rule off Brussels welcome to the interfering eu ,,
This wiring was ripped out on purpose in case Sombody wanted them on again ,, ,,, it's about time we had a revaloution because those who think thay run the country don't listen to what the majority want ,, I'd vote for one turning a few lights off and china and third world country's pumping out more harmfull **** than you can think off we have to comply to iron rule off Brussels welcome to the interfering eu ,, phil kernot

5:45pm Mon 6 Jan 14

the white witch says...

How many more lives will have to be taken before something is done about the lighting?????
We pay our road taxes, insurances to be legal and yet the public is still let down again.
How many more lives will have to be taken before something is done about the lighting????? We pay our road taxes, insurances to be legal and yet the public is still let down again. the white witch

5:50pm Mon 6 Jan 14

A Darener says...

400 deaths a year from drowning. Perhaps priority should be given to trying to prevent those. After all that's more than on the M65.
400 deaths a year from drowning. Perhaps priority should be given to trying to prevent those. After all that's more than on the M65. A Darener

6:23pm Mon 6 Jan 14

hasslem hasslem says...

A Darener wrote:
400 deaths a year from drowning. Perhaps priority should be given to trying to prevent those. After all that's more than on the M65.
compulsory swimming lessons at every school - seems enough priority given to that to me. if somebody is stupid enough to fall in to a river, canal, lake or loch then that is stupid, if somebody who falls in the sea from a nboat who cant swim who is not wearing a widely available life-jacket - then that is equally stupid.
[quote][p][bold]A Darener[/bold] wrote: 400 deaths a year from drowning. Perhaps priority should be given to trying to prevent those. After all that's more than on the M65.[/p][/quote]compulsory swimming lessons at every school - seems enough priority given to that to me. if somebody is stupid enough to fall in to a river, canal, lake or loch then that is stupid, if somebody who falls in the sea from a nboat who cant swim who is not wearing a widely available life-jacket - then that is equally stupid. hasslem hasslem

6:31pm Mon 6 Jan 14

A Darener says...

In a round about way that was my point. Safety is the responsibility of the individual, be it a driver or anybody out and about. The state can help but it is not a nanny state, yet!
In a round about way that was my point. Safety is the responsibility of the individual, be it a driver or anybody out and about. The state can help but it is not a nanny state, yet! A Darener

7:37pm Mon 6 Jan 14

turbo5 says...

Toital cop out response from Mr Sweeny,
Publish hard facts on the number of accidents per year on that stretch prior to switching off the lights and after switching them off.
If they have increased substantially somebody should be charge with corporate manslaughter. Perhaps someone needs to put a compliant into the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and let them investigate it.
Toital cop out response from Mr Sweeny, Publish hard facts on the number of accidents per year on that stretch prior to switching off the lights and after switching them off. If they have increased substantially somebody should be charge with corporate manslaughter. Perhaps someone needs to put a compliant into the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and let them investigate it. turbo5

11:39pm Mon 6 Jan 14

hasslem hasslem says...

A Darener wrote:
In a round about way that was my point. Safety is the responsibility of the individual, be it a driver or anybody out and about. The state can help but it is not a nanny state, yet!
darener - that is nonsense - compulsory swimming lessons is indicative of a nanny state....you could argue that legal wearing of seatbelts is the same. i am sure compulsory wearing of life jackets would reduce drowning.

tell me darener - why do you think they installed the lights in the first place?
[quote][p][bold]A Darener[/bold] wrote: In a round about way that was my point. Safety is the responsibility of the individual, be it a driver or anybody out and about. The state can help but it is not a nanny state, yet![/p][/quote]darener - that is nonsense - compulsory swimming lessons is indicative of a nanny state....you could argue that legal wearing of seatbelts is the same. i am sure compulsory wearing of life jackets would reduce drowning. tell me darener - why do you think they installed the lights in the first place? hasslem hasslem

8:07am Tue 7 Jan 14

A Darener says...

H h good question! I would imagine it was a requirement put out to tender during the negotiation process by the highways agency or whoever was in charge at the time. Somebody deemed it necessary at the time. But times change. In an ideal world every safety system required would be available but we do not live in an ideal world so compromises have to be made. Usually for economic reasons. It may lead to an increase in the injuries and deaths from accidents, but it is still the responsibility of individuals to try to be safe.
H h good question! I would imagine it was a requirement put out to tender during the negotiation process by the highways agency or whoever was in charge at the time. Somebody deemed it necessary at the time. But times change. In an ideal world every safety system required would be available but we do not live in an ideal world so compromises have to be made. Usually for economic reasons. It may lead to an increase in the injuries and deaths from accidents, but it is still the responsibility of individuals to try to be safe. A Darener

10:24am Tue 7 Jan 14

vicn1956 says...

Carbon footprint or lives put at risk? The authorities have made their decision!
Carbon footprint or lives put at risk? The authorities have made their decision! vicn1956

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