Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Lights back on as carer pays up

Mike Atherton
Mike Atherton said switching off the lights was "totally irresponsible"

A village's street lights have been switched back on after a resident paid nearly 300 out of his own pocket.

Powys council has turned off thousands of lamps in the county in a bid to save money, but it is reviewing the impact of the project.

Mike Atherton, a 60-year-old care worker from Llangynog, near Llanfyllin, said the switch-off was a "severe threat to public safety".

Powys council has turned 16 lights back on in the community.

Mr Atherton, who is originally from Birmingham, paid 295 for the lamps to be lit until next March.

However, he is not the first person to offer to spend his own money to illuminate his community at night.

'Marvellous'

Last month, Machynlleth councillor Michael Williams pledged a 350 increase in an allowance from Powys council to his town council to turn 14 lamps back on.

Meanwhile, in October councillors in Llanfair Caereinion, near Welshpool, agreed to spend up to 3,000 to turn about 50 of them back on.

Steve Jones talks to Mike Atherton and villagers of Llangynog as their lights go back on.

Mr Atherton said: "I'm absolutely outraged that Powys has taken these steps. I feel angry the council has threatened the safety of vulnerable and elderly people."

But he said he had received a "marvellous" response from villagers for his good turn.

"I was told by Powys that they wouldn't accept payment from individuals, so I decided to pay the local community council and it asked for the return of the lights," he added.

Mr Atherton, a railway pensioner who now is now a care worker for Crossroads Mid and West Wales, told Llangynog Community Council about his offer to fund the lighting at a meeting last month.

Gwilym Tibbott, chairman of Llangynog Community Council, said Mr Atherton's "very generous offer" showed how communities came together to solve their problems.

Thousands of lights have been blacked out across Powys as part of the controversial cost-cutting policy, which is saving the council 225,000.

The scheme has been criticised in communities throughout the county.

Powys council said: "We are about to start a full review of the process and the impact it has had across the county. The wide-ranging review will include feedback from town and community councils, police, members of the public and partner organisations.

"The review findings will be presented to the council's board before the end of the year."

The council is responsible for more than 14,000 street lights and is facing huge increases in energy costs at a time when its budgets are under pressure.



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Mike Atherton explains why he's paying nearly 300 to have his village's street lights turned back on.



SEE ALSO
Cash offer for street lights bill
19 Nov 08 |  Mid Wales
Town condemns lights switch-off
07 Nov 08 |  Mid Wales
More rural Wales lights to go out
06 Nov 08 |  Mid Wales
Councillor foots street lamp bill
03 Nov 08 |  Mid Wales
Town pays to turn lights back on
21 Oct 08 |  Mid Wales

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