WORK has started on a project to convert gas lamps in a Worcestershire town to ensure that they run more efficiently and cheaply.

Earlier this year, Malvern Town Council and the parish councils of West Malvern and Malvern Wells applied for permission to convert the gas lamps.

Malvern Hills District Council issued planning permission on Thursday, April 21, and already the town council has converted some of its lamps.

Two town council employees Charles Porter and Grahame Gibbins have recently completed a gas safety course at Worcester College of Technology and are certified to carry out the work.

The refurbishment scheme was developed by environmental group Transition Malvern Hills. It uses improved burners and a variety of other technical solutions to ensure the historic lamps produce light more efficiently, while needing much less maintenance.

The decision to improve the lamps came after the district council announced it would no longer pay half the cost of running and maintaining the lamps.

This would have placed a large burden on the town and parish councils, which pay the other half, and there were fears they would not be able to afford to keep the lamps alight.

But the district council managed to find funding for the conversion work, which will bring down running costs to a level the parishes can afford. Councillor Paul Tuthill, chairman of Malvern Town Council, said: “We are delighted to get the go-ahead for this work.

“The gas lamps are part of Malvern’s heritage and it would have been wrong of us to let them go out.

“Instead, they will now be better than ever.”