The budget cuts sweeping the UK are not leaving the Isle of Wight out, with the Island council asked to trim their budget by twenty percent, or nearly five hundred pounds.
One of the more tragic cuts is the enforced early retirement of Frank Exchange, 59, of Newport. Frank has been changing the lights on Georges Lane in Newport since they were installed in 1979. He has been a familiar figure every day between seven and seven, rain or shine, in his booth at the side of the road. In order to save money, Frank will be replaced by an automated system.
"It won't be the same," said Millicent Aires, 29 of Newport. "I've seen Frank every day, except for that week in September four years ago when he had a holiday. He's got a good eye for the traffic, and has kept the centre of Newport traffic jam free. How can an automated system understand how traffic builds up in certain ways at certain times?"
David Pugh, 61, councillor for the island, insists that an automated system will be just as effective as Frank.
"We've got hold of something called traffic sensors from the mainland," said Pugh. "They will be installed next week, at which point I will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony."
Frank is philosophical about the change. "I've read about these new fangled systems," he said. "I doubt they'll do as good a job as me, but they'll be on twenty-four hours a day, which is probably a good thing in this day and age. Some of the people of Newport are working until gone eight. I don't think I could do a fourteen hour day anymore."
In honour of his thirty plus years of service with just eight days off, the council will be installing the traffic lights in his garden to change whenever the urge takes him.
"It's a nice gesture," said Frank. "But I live on the fifth floor of a block of flats."