Warning over faulty Wendover Road street light which may have caused teen’s epileptic fit

Geoff Bakewell - complaint over faulty streetlight near his home in Wendover Road, Weston Turville PNL-160927-150845009
Geoff Bakewell - complaint over faulty streetlight near his home in Wendover Road, Weston Turville PNL-160927-150845009

A flickering streetlight which is still faulty despite being reported to a council more than two months ago may have led to a 17-year-old girl suffering a suspected epileptic seizure, a concerned resident has claimed.

Geoff Bakewell reported the faulty light to Buckinghamshire County Council on July 18 via its website but despite follow-up emails the light, in Wendover Road, Weston Turville, near to the Marroway roundabout, has still not been mended.

The retired engineering manager warned the council of his health and safety fears that because it was flashing more than once a second – he timed it with a stopwatch – and he feared it could cause someone with photosensitive epilepsy to sustain a seizure.

Mr Bakewell says a teenager walking near the light with her boyfriend on September 6 collapsed at the roadside after sustaining a suspected epileptic seizure.

Mr Bakewell, who has lived in Weston Turville for nearly 30 years, emailed the council again the next day, informing them of the incident and stating: “Perhaps this will now spur you on to repair this defect in a timely fashion.”

It has still not been fixed.

Mr Bakewell saw the blue lights of the ambulance service at the time and, with a neighbour, went across the road to lend any support and learned of the suspected cause of the girl’s collapse when speaking with a paramedic at the scene. A good Samaritan van driver passing-by spotted the girl in trouble and phoned 999 before remaining at the scene until a paramedic arrived.

A spokesman for the South Central Ambulance Service confirmed to the Herald that it attended at 11.11pm on Tuesday, September 6, after reports of a medical emergency. He said a specialist paramedic in a rapid response vehicle and a further ambulance arrived and took a 17-year-old girl to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The ambulance service is not able to reveal personal medical information about patients but the Herald understands that an epileptic seizure was the initial suspected cause.

Mark Shaw, the county council’s cabinet member for transport, explained that its transport teams look after around 29,000 streetlights across the county, 12,000 of which have cost-saving LED lanterns. These are programmed to dim to 70 per cent brightness at 10pm and dim further to 50 per cent at midnight.

He added: “Our team have been testing and monitoring this streetlight since we received a report in July, but this is one of those cases that behaves itself when you’re watching it and then doesn’t when you’ve turned your back!

“I’m sorry it has taken a little longer than we’d have liked to establish why it sometimes flickers, and the team now think it is linked to the dimming process, so we’ve switched it off until we can replace the lantern.”

Asked by the Herald about the epilepsy incident, Cllr Shaw said: “We’ve had no recorded reports about links between streetlights and epileptic fits in Buckinghamshire. As I’ve no medical expertise in this area, I’m unable to give a response.”