THE 'Malvern Gas Lamp debate' encapsulates in many ways the continuing failure of vision and imagination of MHDC and many others, including the editor of the Malvern Gazette.

Clive Perry and Alec Beattie (Postbag, November 16) have the argument in a nutshell: maintaining the Victorian gas lamps has nothing to do with practical general road lighting, or in the editor's words "what is after all sub-standard lighting".

The argument is about maintaining an atmosphere, which is particular to Malvern, which has helped to encourage people to want to live and work here. It has also encouraged the sort of tourism Malvern so badly needs.

As for the conversion of the lamps to switched electric lighting, again the whole point is missed. They are gas lamps, with a beautiful quality of light, which the electric lighting cannot simulate.

Endless talk of 'bygone eras' and attempts to recreate the Victorian age merely turns Malvern into a bogus theme park. But the gas lamps are genuine and they work - their maintenance should be seen in a wider context than just provision of street lighting.

Your report states that the increased costs of maintenance is the result of a safety audit, which I seem to remember was one of the reason for the Christmas light fiasco. Do we always have to sacrifice beauty and poetry to the dull conformity of the health and safety industry?

ANGUS MACDONALD, St Ann's Road, Malvern.

n Editor's Note: I agree entirely with Mr MacDonald that the gas lamps are a unique feature which help make Malvern special. That is why we are pleased they have been listed.

While I would also agree that the quality, or should that be lack of quality, of the light is part of that uniqueness, I do think that some areas, like Wells Road, do need to be looked at as special cases.

Light that was adequate for the speed of horse and cart is just not safe for cars. You can hardly have electric lights standing alongside the Victorian lamp stands, so some form of conversion would seem the best answer.

If I suffer from a lack of vision it is perhaps because it has been blurred by a knowledge of some of the terrible accidents that have occurred along that stretch of road.