20 April 2011

A programme to reduce the cost of street lighting by 50 per cent in order to save Northamptonshire County Council £2 million is scheduled to start in May.

The initiative which will see about one in two of county council owned lights switched off is being carried out as the authority aims to make £73 million in-year savings.

However, turning off roughly half the lights does not mean turning off every other light. A priority list is being developed in conjunction with the police and road safety officers that will enable the council to identify where it is most appropriate for most lights to be maintained, and where they can be switched off.

As well as making cash savings the initiative will also help the county council reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint.

It is expected that the switch-off of street lights will be carried out in May and June.

To mitigate the impact of turning off street lights the council will endeavour to carry out faster repairs on lights, reducing the repair target from the current 28 days to, where possible, 10 days.

Lighting columns which are supposed to be off will be marked with an adhesive sticker.

County council cabinet member for highways, minerals and waste, Cllr Heather Smith, said: “Budget pressures have meant that the council has had to bring in these changes quickly. However with pressure of rising fuel costs and to reduce carbon emissions changes in how our towns are lit would have been inevitable.

“The idea of turning off street lights has been touted nationally for some time now and increasingly we’re seeing authorities around the country turning off street lights as a way of saving money.

“This isn’t about turning off every other light. A number of factors are taken into consideration when choosing which lights will be turned off with peoples’ safety an obvious priority.”

The lights will be turned out by concentrating on each borough and district at a time. It is expected that the programme will be rolled out in Corby, South Northamptonshire, East Northamptonshire, Daventry and Wellingborough in May with work switching to Kettering and Northampton in June.

Examples of where lights could be kept on include areas where there are higher than average numbers of accidents during darkness and at complex junctions.

In Northamptonshire, street lighting is provided on trunk roads and motorways by the Highways Agency, in some communities by the town or parish council, or on some new developments by the developer. In the main, the county council’s lighting is in the bigger towns, and it is only where the lighting belongs to the authority that we will be switching any street lights off.