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UKASTLE Guidance to Collectors - 2024

UKASTLE is not merely a forum, it is a society, therefore some guidance is being issued for when it comes to collecting street lighting. Collecting lighting equipment is becoming increasingly difficult, and also becoming an increasing minefield where one trip could have big consequences. The guidance below is not to debate the rights or wrongs of council policies or the like, but to raise awareness of what collectors could be exposed to. This guidance is published as a voluntary code of practice to which collectors are advised to follow... UKASTLE cannot police the activities of its members and cannot accept responsibility for actions taken by members, and therefore these are not specific rules that must be followed by members. However, members accept responsibility for any consequences that may arise through not following such guidance.
  Introduction: Over the past few years collecting items of street lighting equipment from public sources, whether via in-house council street lighting departments or their subcontractors has become a lot more difficult. There have been many changes in policy both on a company/council and national scale and other events. If collectors are not careful they could easily find themselves in trouble, regardless of their intentions. This page is designed to offer words of guidance to current or prospective street lighting collectors, to ensure that we enjoy our hobby in a safe and legal way. Please take time to read and appreciate this guidance, and also apply the guidance where relevant when dealing with completely private companies and individuals.  
  Dealing with Depots: One way of collecting street lighting involves visiting street lighting depots. Due to policy changes, notably Health and Safety Regulations and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive 2007, many depots now refuse to assist street lighting collectors. Some depots may still help collectors out with unwanted lanterns, but collectors must consider the following: (1) Are senior management aware of depots assisting collectors, and (2) Do senior management permit collectors obtaining lighting equipment from their depots? If senior management are not aware of their depots assisting collectors then there is a chance that if they knew they would not permit collectors to obtain lanterns from their depots, and if they do not permit collectors to obtain lanterns that could be viewed as theft. Be warned, a lower grade member of staff such as a storeman may assist a collector without his or her managers' permission, and if the managers discovered this the employee could lose their job and the collector potentially be in trouble. A lower grade member of staff may have good intentions of being helpful, but in some cases they may have intentions of making a personal gain. Please see the section titled "Bribery". Please also consider that depot managers may wish to remain anonymous, and therefore it would be wise not to include images or data that may directly identify a manager on a publically-accessible location such as a personal street lighting website. In some cases, a private contractor may be using a depot that is the property of the local council or another private company. In which case the contractors' use of this depot will be subject to terms imposed on them by the site owners. Therefore, even if a contractor may have granted permission for a collector to obtain street lighting equipment, the site owner may not have granted permission for 'unauthorised persons' to be on the site and so entering the site may be dangerous and could have implications against the street lighting contractor, and so entering such a site should be avoided.  
  Dealing with Lighting Crews: Another way of collecting street lighting equipment involves dealing with the lighting crews who travel out and about on the streets installing or repairing street lighting. Due to the reduced amount of surveillance lighting crews are typically more likely to assist collectors. Similar to dealing with depots, collectors must consider the following: (1) Are senior management aware of lighting crews assisting collectors, and (2) Do senior management permit lighting crews to pass on equipment to collectors? In general, dealing directly with lighting crews out on the street is more of a grey area. Much of the time depots and senior management will be unaware of their lighting crews assisting collectors. To a greater extent than at depots, where staff are under closer surveillance from senior management, lighting crews may act with intentions of personal gain. Again, see the section titled "Bribery". If lighting crews assist collectors without the consent of managers this could again be considered to be theft, with the lighting crews disciplined and potentially losing their jobs, and potentially the collector getting into trouble. Please also consider that lighting crews may wish to remain anonymous, and therefore it would be wise not to include images or data that may directly identify a crew person on a publically-accessible location.  
  The Value of Lighting Equipment: Generally speaking, lighting equipment offered to collectors can be broken down into three categories: (1) Old, used equipment, (2) New, old stock equipment, and (3) New equipment. Old, used equipment will generally not be reused, be only of scrap value and be destined for the scrap bin. New, old stock equipment will never be considered for use and therefore only have scrap value. New equipment will often be suitable for installation and be higher in value. Therefore, lighting equipment offered to collectors could have a value ranging from pennies up to hundreds of Pounds. When offered new lighting equipment in particular, consider whether management are genuinely happy to offer it to collectors, or whether they are just looking to make money by selling equipment that is still required by and of value to the council or subcontractor. If lighting equipment is still required by the council or subcontractor, and therefore still of value, this could constitute theft.  
  The Value of Scrap: In recent years, the booming economies of certain foreign countries has fuelled demand for scrap metal, and as a result scrap metal has increased in price. Scrap metal theft is a large and rapidly growing issue in the UK, and street lighting has been affected by scrap metal theft. If a collector is acting legally and responsibly, seeking permission for obtaining lighting equipment, the issue of scrap metal theft should not require a change in behaviour. However, it is an issue that must nevertheless be appreciated. If unrequired street lighting equipment is being disposed of to a scrap merchant, the person selling the equipment must be willing to provide a formal form of identification. When street lighting equipment is surplus to a collection it should be ideally moved on to another collector by means of a lantern swap with something of equal value; if physical constraints dictate that this is not possible then a sale may be agreed - however this should be conducted privately, use a secure method of payment, be conducted only with people you trust, and should not be done purely as a means to obtain profit.  
  Abandoned Property: Interesting lighting equipment can often be found on abandoned property. Whilst property may be abandoned in nature, the land will still have a landowner. If trying to acquire lighting equipment from abandoned property collectors should seek to contact the landowner for permission to acquire the lanterns. However, the likelihood of landowners giving permission is very low, due to health and safety issues. If the property is to be demolished they may pass your details on to a demolition contractor, and further correspondence should be made with the contractor for the safe removal of lighting equipment. Gaining access to private property in itself is the criminal offence of trespass. Removal of abandoned lighting equipment, even though it is highly likely it will only deteriorate further, be vandalised or be scrapped still constitutes theft in a court of law. Even in the case of a landowner not being bothered about the lighting equipment being removed from their land a collector could still find themselves in trouble if caught by security patrols or the Police.  
  Bribery: In 2010 the Bribery Act was passed in the UK, and bribery is defined as a form of corruption where an individual seeks to alter the behaviour of another individual using money or another gift. In this definition, individual could also mean group of individual people, organisation, company, government, etc. It is a criminal offence to both offer and receive a bribe. There is a fine line between a gift being considered as a tip or a bribe. In the case of a tip, one individual would have helped the other without the offer of a gift. In the case of a bribe, one individual would have only helped the other if there were something in it for them. If a council or subcontractor employee asks for money or another form of gift in return for assisting a collector with lighting equipment this should be considered to be bribery. And remember, bribery is considered illegal for all parties involved.  
  UKASTLE's Stance: UKASTLE wishes to promote the legal and responsible behaviour of both its members and collectors who are also not members of the association. UKASTLE does not condone illegal behaviour relating to the acqusition of street lighting equipment for collections. Aside to the points raised in this guidance, any other form of obtaining lanterns without the required permission of owners is theft, and UKASTLE does not condone the theft of lighting equipment.  

Further Correspondance:

  Members should send a PM to Phosco152, the Information & Content Manager  
  Non-members should use the 'Contact Us' page  

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