Whilst one solitary light may not seem that important, this light, in the car park for Wickes in East Dartford (off Overy Street) is a very important light.
This is the light that lights the way from Dartford Station, down the wooden bridge, and into East Dartford - whether you’re going to Temple Hill or Newtown. This is an important light for those of us who live there.
The bridge does need some work doing on it to keep the surface even, though lighting does help out there, as our senses can bring uneven surfaces and how we walk together, for the majority - of course those who are less well sighted may have issues.
Having the lower part of the bridge with no lighting has caused issues late at night. The Wickes car park is a large area, no direct, bright, lighting makes it an easy place for those who want to lay prey to potential victims passing through.
Back in August 2013 I fell at the lower part of the bridge, whilst I put that blame entirely on myself, I was hurrying to get home before an impending storm hit. I can’t recall if the light was on or not, though this is a simple example of the problems that, if there was no lighting, someone could find themselves in trouble. Gladly the only problem I had from this was a permanent facial scar.
As early as December 2013, I asked questions about the lighting in the Wickes car park - I’d love to have an exact date, and a proper recollection of events, but…we all have busy lives don’t we?
Needless to say, my Twitter records show me asking a Dartford Councillor who works in the Wickes store for assistance in getting the light turned on. Though no actual action taken to my request.
All I wanted was the light to be turned on, to benefit those of us passing through there late at night.
Not even late at night, by December, and depending on where the moon is, the lighting in the car park, even during peak PM travel times, would be very low.
What did I do?
Not much. I trusted that tweeting, with the attention of Dartford Councillors, especially the one that worked on site, might get somewhere.
And then…we got out of winter, during summer months, it’s not much of an issue. Those passing through after work would have evening light/dusk/twilight to guide them through.
However, in late April 2014, for whatever reason, the light was on!!
I think the light survived, at most, a month. Then it was out again.
Which, during summer, isn’t much of a problem, darkness hits around 10pm.
But what about autumn and winter? What would happen then?
I took this picture early on in September 2014 at night:
Early on in October 2014, I walked at a slower than normal pace down the bridge. I acknowledge there are uneven bits near the bottom, though without lighting, I couldn’t adapt to them. I sprained my ankle. Thankfully not a twist or anything major…it was swollen for a few days, though I’ve experienced worse in my marathon running, and it just needed rest/less activity on it to get better. It didn’t stop me walking, but did stop me from running - from experience, I know what happens if I push an injury too hard…
I reached out via Twitter, including the afore mentioned Councillor, for anyone to help address this.
What did I do?
Same as I did earlier on in the year about the failed recycling collections in Newtown…though being a little more clued up about how things worked on a local level, I focussed my efforts on two places:
Wickes - do they own the light?
Thames Water - do they own the light?
Wickes got back to me really quickly and passed it on to the local branch. I was informed the street light is on property owned by Thames Water, though they would endeavour to fix the light the next time their contractor was on site.
I fired off a follow-up email to Thames Water about this (my original was via the web form, but I since found an emailable address) to ask what they could do..this was sent on Thursday
Let there be light!
I headed back, via the station, after a local meeting I attended on the same Friday of that week, the day after my response from Wickes, around 11pm.
To my surprise, the light in the Wickes car park was ON!
Whilst the last response I had from Wickes was on Thursday, informing me that they weren’t responsible for the site…and as a result I sent another mail to Thames Water, to find the light on the next day is either a fluke, or as a result of my inquiries to the parties involved.
I do find it very coincidental that after 5 months of no light it was finally on, and I’d love to take credit for it (unless someone can prove otherwise)…especially since my other attempts to those who could make a difference yielded no results.
We have light in the Wickes car park.
An important thoroughfare to Temple Hill and Newtown/East Dartford for commuters that are, most likely, already delayed by Southeastern, after a hard days work, or those who have had a night out and are travelling back home to their homes and families.
We have a safer place to pass through.
I will continue to keep an eye on this, and now I know who to contact, will raise this as an issue should the light go out again.
If you find this light out, then please contact me, and I’ll raise this to the contacts I have made.
We deserve a better, safer, environment to get home in the evenings, and for those who work early shifts, to get to the station in the morning. Whilst this light is on private land, it needs to provide safe passage for those who have no choice but to pass through that land.
We do not deserve the inaction that has happened with my attempts to get this fixed in nearly a year of asking.
I’m just glad that the light is on again. Finally.
Update: I got a mail from the Dartford Wickes store manager - it was their contractor that got the light working, and they have checked that it isn’t connected to any of their boards, so…I will follow up with Thames Water on this.
I’m sure those of us who pass through that car park will feel safer…so…