So why were the lights switched out at the top of hospital chimney?

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FOR decades the red lights at the top of the 36-metre tall steel chimney at Stoke Mandeville Hospital have shone out as a warning to aircraft.

But since the beginning of the year the lights have been off, leaving local residents curious.

Denis O’Sullivan, from Dalesford Road, said: “I’ve lived locally all my life and the steel chimney has been lit all the time I can remember. It’s been habitual that when my children are going to bed we look out the window at the stars and at the lights on the chimney. It’s odd that after all these years someone has suddenly deemed it unnecessary”

A statement from Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust states: “ The decision to switch the lights off was reached after the Trust felt completely satisfied there was no risk to residents, patients, staff and users of nearby airspace. The trust sought the professional advice and agreement of the Civil Aviation Authority.”

The trust would not say whether the decision was a cost-cutting exercise or explain why, if the lights had been deemed necessary for decades, they are now considered unnecessary.