Footway lighting in Hellesdon and Drayton could go dark from April 2018 as councils clash
- Credit: �Archant Photographic 2009
Footway lighting in Hellesdon and Drayton is at risk of going dark from April 2018 as the two parish councils have clashed with Broadland over future maintenance.
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.'
Now, Broadland District Council have been forced to revisit the decision made in February.
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A report to its cabinet says: 'It is clear the two parish councils where the majority of footway lights this council manages are unwilling to play an active role in maintaining footway lights for their residents'.
Costs for footway lighting is met through a special expense in council tax, and Broadland has said the current charge does not cover their expense.
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Graham Everett, chairman of Drayton Parish Council, said he suspected Broadland had made the decision in order to increase council tax by £5 without requiring a referendum, which they did on February 23, by suppressing the additional cost for footway lighting.
He added they were 'extremely disappointed' the decision had been made 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. As parish council chairman, my view is Broadland will have to increase the special responsibilities allowance.'
Footway lighting relates only to public lighting on footpaths rather than highways.
A number of options are being proposed to Broadland District council's cabinet as alternatives to delegating responsibility to parish councils.
They include scrapping the annual check of footway lighting to save up to £38,000. Last year one defect every day was identified through these checks.
Part night lighting or dimming is also being considered, which could cut energy costs by between 50pc and 70pc.
A rise in the special expense charge of council tax is also on the table. Residents in Hellesdon and Drayton would be disproportionately affected as the parishes with the most lights, facing a rise of £4.80 and £3.35 respectively.
'If no council takes the responsibility to require footway lighting...there is a risk that significant new developments will not be provided with footway lighting when being built,' the report adds.
Plans will be discussed at Broadland District Council's cabinet on Tuesday.