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Cash for street lighting cut by a third in five years by Newham Council

PUBLISHED: 17:10 19 March 2019

Newham council changing its 21,000 lamp-posts to take eco-friendly LED lighting. Picture: Google

Newham council changing its 21,000 lamp-posts to take eco-friendly LED lighting. Picture: Google

Google

Spending on street lighting by Newham Council has been slashed by more than half-a-million pounds over the last five years, figures reveal.

Now accident prevention experts are urging local authorities to be cautious about dimming or switching off lights, warning that dark streets can increase the risk of road accidents.

But the council has switched to LED lighting which is far cheaper to run and more eco-friendly for the environment it points out.

This is in addition to around £100m spent changing over all 21,000 lamp-posts to take LED lighting.

Newham spent £895,000 on street lights between April and December last year, according to government financial data.

This contrasts with £1.4m in the same period in 2013, with figures adjusted for inflation. That’s 37 per cent cut in real terms—but doesn’t account for the cash spent from its capital budget to replace street lights for more eco-friendly low energy lighting.. That’s 37 per cent cut in real terms—but doesn’t account for the cash spent from its capital budget to replace street lights for more eco-friendly low energy lighting.

A town hall spokesman said: “The figures quoted for spending on street lighting refer only to the cost of electricity.

“The reduction results from the much more efficient LED lights which cost less to run.

“Far from cutting street lighting, we have invested on improving it, protecting the environment at the same time.”

Newham has now completed installing some 17,000 energy efficient lights.

But some local authorities save money by switching off street lights which the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says come at the cost of personal safety, with the risk of walking in darkness.

The society’s Nick Lloyd said: “Councils should only reduce lighting if they’re sure it won’t lead to more accidents or put personal safety at risk. It’s important local authorities warn the public that lights are being dimmed or switched off.”

But the Local Government Association which represents the authorities argues that reducing street lights and investing in LED lighting can lower energy costs in the long term, saving the public purse while improving the environment.

Local government is facing an £8 billion funding gap by 2025, it points out, so reducing or dimming street lights can free cash for services under pressure such as bin collections and repairing potholes.

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