Lights on Broadland footpaths will stay on - but residents will have to pay extra
©Archant Photographic 2009
Council tax for residents in Hellesdon and Drayton is set to be hiked to pay for a £25,000 shortfall in footpath light maintenance across Broadland and annual checks will be scrapped.
Following a change in Norfolk County Council policy which meant they would no longer adopt new footway lighting, Broadland District Council decided in February to shift responsibility for all 716 lights in the district to five parish councils.
But Hellesdon and Drayton, in which the vast majority of these lights are found, refused to engage.
Both parish councils resolved they “will not adopt, nor take on the management, maintenance or pay the energy costs of existing footway lighting.”
As a result Broadland had to put forward new proposals to prevent the lights going out from April 2018.
At a meeting of its cabinet yesterday , they resolved to keep responsibility for footway lights but to cover the shortfall by introducing part-night lighting for new developments, scrapping the annual ‘scout round’ safety checks, and recharge the remaining expense to residents in each parish.
Those expected to see the biggest rise in their special expense charge will be those in Hellesdon and Drayton, with a rise of up to £4.80 and £3.35 respectively
Richard Block, head of housing and environmental services for Broadland, told cabinet: “The two parishes where the majority of the lighting stock is situated had no interest in even discussing how adequate footway lighting would be maintained for their residents.
“This council is in a situation where the cost outstrips the amount covered by the special expense charge to residents in parishes.
“The special expense will need to be increased and members need to be aware any increase in the special expense counts towards the £5 limit council tax can be increased by before triggering a referendum.
“This is a discretionary service but if lights are decommissioned ward councillors are likely to face considerable public pressure.”
Environmental Excellence portfolio holder John Fisher said: “I can’t see we really want to be responsible for lights going out or lamp posts not being maintained. We should recharge the cost as a special expense. I am reluctant to do it but we have no option but to keep the lights on.”
Councils clashed over maintenance
Hellesdon and Drayton parish councils refused to take responsibility for maintenance of footway lights.
Graham Everett, chairman of Drayton Parish Council, said they were “extremely disappointed” Broadland tried to pass responsibility without consulting parish councils first.
“One of the main concerns for the parish council was how it would affect the parish precept and that the special expense charge does not actually cover the full cost of maintaining the lights,” he said.
Chairman of Hellesdon Parish Council Shelagh Gurney said they lacked the staff resources to take on management of footway lighting.
“Initially this was about future lighting but now they are talking about taking everything into the control of the parish council,” she said.
“We have decided it would be in the best interests of Hellesdon residents that the running and administration of the street lighting is dealt with by Broadland who have the expertise and knowledge.”