Video: Paradise lost as the lights go out over Scarborough

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ON a sunny day in June, it is hard to find a more glorious setting in Yorkshire.

The winding streets of Scarborough’s Old Town offer panoramic views across the dazzling blue sea and are home to an array of architectural gems, from blue plaques to the churchyard where Ann Bronte is buried.

Richard Flowitt of Scarborough Civic Society outside Paradise House. Pictures: Tony Bartholomew

Richard Flowitt of Scarborough Civic Society outside Paradise House. Pictures: Tony Bartholomew

Yet on one particular road, there is trouble in Paradise, after a cash-strapped council has moved in to remove a number of heritage street lights and replaced them with unsightly modern varieties at half the cost.

Civic society members and residents who live on the aptly- named street in the conservation area have condemned the decision as an “act of vandalism”.

Now a campaign has been launched against North Yorkshire County Council to reinstate the lights as a matter of urgency.

Architect Richard Flowitt, vice chairman of the Scarborough and District Civic Society who compiled a recent conservation report into the Old Town, said: “These new lights are totally out of keeping.

Paradise, where traditional lamp-posts are being replaced

Paradise, where traditional lamp-posts are being replaced

“Paradise is a very attractive place and it seems foolish to put in something which stands out so much from the streetscape.

“When I compiled my appraisal of the Old Town one of the items I picked up one was the attractiveness of the street lights on Paradise - it is a very important site.”

The civic society says the street lights - which are designed to look like original gas lamps - were installed 25 years ago as part of an environmental improvement scheme.

The first lights have been removed over the past few weeks, and residents say they have been told it is only a matter of time before the rest are taken down.

Ann Jones, a 76-year-old resident of Paradise, said: “I have spoken to the people putting the new modern lights in and they have told me they didn’t want to do it but were being told to.

“They have said they are going to replace them all.

“We had no letter or anything to say this was going to be taking place - it has just started happening.

“They have just put these new lights on the old posts and it doesn’t look right at all in such an historic part of town.

“One of the first new lights is right outside somebody’s house.

“All of the residents seem to be united against this.”

The civic society first raised the issue to members at a meeting last week.

Chairman Adrian Perry said: “We believe that this project needs to be reviewed as we feel that it is detrimental to the street scene and destroys previous work to improve the area.

“This is a conservation area and should be treated more carefully than other areas of the town.”

North Yorkshire County Council, which has to find £69 million in savings over four years, has said following the row that it is considering options for heritage lighting in conservation areas, which would involve a partnership with district councils or other bodies in order to share the higher costs.

The street lights on Paradise which need replacing each cost between £1,700 and £1,800, while a standard column is estimated to cost £850.

A council spokeswoman said yesterday: “A number of heritage style street lights in Scarborough’s Old Town have recently been removed by North Yorkshire County Council due to severe corrosion.

“Conventional street lighting columns have been erected as a short-term measure until North Yorkshire County Council’s executive considers a report into the use of heritage lighting in conservation areas.

“Outside conservation areas it has been the county council’s practice to replace damaged or corroded street lights with modern equipment designed to throw all available light down onto the highway.

“This can help to reduce traffic accidents as well as crime and minimise light pollution.

“To replace all decorative columns routinely would therefore have an adverse effect on other areas which may find they are without lighting as a result.

“The county council is now considering a way forward for lighting inside conservation areas and the funding of heritage lighting which is significantly more costly.”