A test fee of £55 per lamppost means bunting for this week’s celebrations – celebrating Her Majesty’s 70 years of service - might be a less spectacular sight in towns and villages across Lancashire.
The fee charged by Lancashire County Council is to check whether streetlights can safely support the extra weight of bunting.
County Hall, which is under Conservative control, said it has always levied a charge for the assessments which it says are conducted in order to protect the public from anything that could lead to the “catastrophic failure” of a streetlight and cause it to come crashing down.
Hanging items from streetlamps is far from free of risk, explained Charlie Edwards, the Conservative cabinet member for highways and transport.
He said: “As the steel columns corrode from the inside out, the only way we could check that they are suitable to support the additional weight is by undertaking a column test so that we can identify the level of internal corrosion.
“I think it’s right that we have this consistent approach across the county – it’s all about public safety and nothing else.”
Guidance issued by County Council to local authorities, adds: “A relatively light addition – such as a sign – can result in considerable extra load being exerted in a strong wind, which can subsequently affect a column’s structural stability, leading to catastrophic failure, damage, injury or death.”
But some councillors fear the compulsory tests might have led to a number of Lancashire’s town and villages having to scale back the colourful displays that traditionally adorn high streets, market squares and village greens.
In March, as plans for the Jubilee celebrations got under way, some local councillors expressed disappointment with County Hall.
Coun Peter Gabbott, who represents the Clayton East, Brindle and Hoghton ward – and also sits as chair of Clayton-le-Woods Parish Council - said it was a shame that the County Council had decided to charge for streetlamp tests in a year when Lancashire’s villages wanted to put on a show for the jubilee celebrations.
He said: “I am disappointed to see these costs being passed from the county council to parish councils – many of whom are small and cover rural, less populated areas.
“There are many examples of money that could be better spent by Lancashire County Council and most residents would prefer to see that funding channelled into ensuring a great visual spectacle throughout our villages, especially in the Queen’s jubilee year.”
Lancashire County Council said the safety tests are required for ‘anything’ that is attached to the lampposts, and could even include poppies for Remembrance Day.
A spokesman for County Hall said: "We have an ongoing programme of testing to ensure the safety of our street lighting columns, and have written to parish councils about an update to the guidance we have in place for anyone wanting to attach items such as bunting, flower baskets and signs to them.