Dogs cocking their legs were being blamed for endangering lives in Kingston, the Surrey Comet reported 10 years ago this week.

Fears had grown about pooches using lampposts as outdoor public conveniences, causing their steel supports to corrode.

Two years earlier, one lamppost toppled to the pavement in Chessington and, although no one was hurt, a man’s best friend was blamed.

A strong breeze would in future send these comfort stops crashing down, Kingston residents now feared.

Concerns that a combination of dogs and windy weather would cause further accidents led to a programme of structural surveys on lampposts more than 40 years old.

About 80 per cent of Kingston’s 1,500 lampposts were tested using a machine giving them a gentle shove and measuring how much they bent.

It was hoped that, by April 2006, all dangerous lampposts would be removed and replaced by ones less vulnerable to antisocial canines.

Money had recently been approved by the Malden neighbourhood committee to complete the structural surveys, with Kingston and Surbiton expected to follow suit.

Chairman of the Malden neighbourhood committee, Councillor Ian McDonald, said: “This latest investigation will allow the three-year survey to be completed. All columns that have been identified as at risk are being replaced.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said that, on average, only 2 per cent of Kingston’s lampposts failed the test, compared with 4 per cent nationally.

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50 YEARS AGO: February 26, 1964

A wolf was on the prowl in Chessington. Two wolves escaped from their compound at Chessington Zoo, though one was recaptured almost immediately. Police warned the other wolf could be dangerous. A zoo spokesman said all reported sightings of the animal, bar one, were actually Alsatian dogs.

25 YEARS AGO: February 24, 1989

Cat Stevens backed the death sentence on a famous British author. The singer-songwriter heavily criticised Salman Rushdie, author of the controversial book Satanic Verses, to students at Kingston Polytechnic.

He said: “The Koran makes it clear – if somebody defames the Prophet then he must die.”

10 YEARS AGO: February 27, 2004 Kingston University students staged a sit-in protest against proposed top-up fees. Student Union president Jonathan Chibafa led 35 fellow students into the main university building on Penryhn Road.

Security guards threatened to call the police during the protest, but it ended peacefully.