People living on Broadland housing estates could be left in the dark amidst uncertainty over street lighting
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press Archant
People living on new housing estates could be left in the dark over plans to transfer responsibility for hundreds of street lights in Broadland over to parishes.
As Norfolk County Council no longer adopts new street lighting on residential streets, Broadland District Council are set to vote this week to decide whether they should take on the responsibility.
And despite two committees recommending the district manages any future street lighting, last week cabinet overturned their recommendations.
Instead they have recommended to full council they should not take on any new lights after April 2018, and responsibility for 716 footway lights the district is responsible for in five parishes should fall to the parish councils.
The report going to the full council meeting on February 23 says the decision taken by Norfolk County Council in 2015 created 'a risk that highways on significant new developments may be adopted with no appropriate footway lighting'.
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'There is a potential problem if a parish where considerable growth is planned is not prepared to manage street lighting.'
The current average cost of maintaining each street light is £155.39 a year. Under proposals to transfer responsibility for maintained street lights to parishes, residents in the affected parishes of Hellesdon, Drayton, Great Witchingham, Freethorpe and Wroxham would see the special expense element of their council tax rise to cover the cost.
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With 716 lights to manage across the parishes, residents could expect to make up around £111,259.24. The rate charged to each parish would vary according to the number of lights in each and the rate they need to be replaced.
The report goes on to say that if the council decides not to provide any footway lighting or take on the ongoing maintenance of those it already manages, 'There are considerable reputational risks'.
Ahead of the vote on Thursday, parish councils said they had not been consulted to the cabinet decision and asked for a halt.
Chairman of Drayton Parish Council, Graham Everett, said they were not willing to adopt new lighting until a proper consultation has taken place.
'If Broadland resolves that the council should not take on the responsibility for the operation for any new footway lighting from April 2018, there is the risk that new developments in Drayton will have no footway lighting,' he said.
He added at a meeting of Drayton Parish Council on February 2 the council resolved 'to keep to the status quo', and they would not take on responsibility for footway lighting on new developments in the parish.
Chairman of Hellesdon Parish Council, Shelagh Gurney, said it is 'imperative' they seek the views of local residents before taking on responsibility for almost 500 footway lights in their area.
'Hellesdon Parish Council will need to be advised of all the facts relating to this matter, including all cost implications, before they consider the implications in terms of any potential effect on the council tax levied on the parishioners and parish office sources,' she said.
'It is also imperative that the parish council seeks the views of local residents relating to potential council tax increases to cover the costs if required.
With up to 1,000 new homes approved at the site of the Royal Norwich Golf Club in Hellesdon, Mrs Gurney added: 'The parish council will also have to decide if the new housing development on the golf course has footway lighting as they will have to in effect manage it.
'We are waiting to discuss this further with Norfolk County Council.'
Other district councils faced with the same decision have had to take action, and Norwich City Council has said they are not able to provide future district lighting to new housing schemes and are advising developers accordingly.
North Norfolk said they manage some amenity lighting and promenade lighting, but none of the highway and footway lighting, which is the responsibility of either the county or parish and town councils.
South Norfolk Council discuss options with developers and parish and town councils as planning applications come forward, on a case by case basis.
What Norfolk County Council say
The decision in September 2015 for the county council to cease to adopt new footway lighting on new developments came as a budget saving measure.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: 'The County Council has now resolved to adopt lighting on new developments only if there is a highway need. Developers will be charged a commuted sum to cover the cost of energy and maintenance for lights on roads with a highway need for lighting. Local Lighting Authorities can retain responsibility for footway lighting on residential roads if they so wish.
'If street lighting is required by the County Council or by a local authority, then this requirement would be included in the legal agreement to adopt the road. The developer would have to install the lights and pay the commuted sum before the road was adopted.'