Are further street lighting cuts on the cards in Suffolk?
PUBLISHED: 16:30 07 November 2019
©Archant Photographic 2009
Further cuts to street lighting in Suffolk are not being planned despite an overspend, highways chiefs have said - with plans for an LED-based system in the pipeline instead.
Finance data for the first six months of this financial year at Suffolk County Council revealed a £1.3million overspend in the highways department - £800,000 of which was on street lighting.
To combat the problem, Conservative cabinet member Andrew Reid said an overhaul of the network was being looked at which would see the entire system use LED street lights.
He said: "We are looking at the long term solution to this and currently working up a proposal for the replacement of all of our street lighting with LEDs.
"This will necessarily require a substantial amount of capital, but the payback may be considered to be reasonably good and have long term lasting benefits."
It comes six months after cost cutting measures introduced in April saw street lights turned off in quieter roads 30 minutes earlier, at 11.30pm instead of midnight.
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The proposals emerged at the tail end of last year in the council's 2019/20 budget, with finance bosses claiming it would save around £90,000.
The change sparked fears from the Labour group which said turning off street lights compromised safety, and sought further reassurance that more cutbacks were not on the horizon.
Labour councillor Peter Gardiner said: "It does seem rather strange that we are six months into the financial year and we are looking at a £0.8m overspend.
"Recently all councillors have received a review of what street lighting will be changed in their areas, and I would want to seek reassurance that we are not going to see further lighting cut back in order to recover some of this cost."
In response, Mr Reid said: "With regard to cutbacks, we don't have any plans to do that."
It is understood that firm proposals for an LED-based system have not yet been drawn up, as work is still in the early stages.
However, LED lights are understood to be cheaper to run and consume less energy than the existing traditional street lights currently in use.
Further details are expected to be unveiled early in 2020.