Needham Market: Hi-tech street lights to be first in county

A mid Suffolk market town will be the first place in the county to be fitted with money-saving “intelligent” street lights.

Town councillors in Needham Market have agreed to help Suffolk County Council pilot the scheme – in which the lights switch off between midnight and 5.30am – and the installation work, which will be documented by a BBC film crew, will begin later this month.

The One Show asked the county council if it could produce a piece on the project, announced as a cost-cutting measure last October, and Needham Market “fitted the criteria” for early installation.

At a meeting on Wednesday night members of the town council approved the idea and are now negotiating with the county council on how to stagger the cost of the �9,000 scheme.

The cash would be recouped through energy savings over three and a half years and the town council is hoping to spread payments over a similar period as the opportunity came too late to be included in the latest budget.

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Town clerk Kevin Hunter said it was “fortuitous” that the BBC had shown an interest in the system.

He said: “What it means is that Needham Market will be the first town to benefit from the system and will get them as early as possible.

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“We had been aware that the system was coming along because the decision was announced in October last year. There was immediate interest, obviously, not just because of the environmental benefit but the cost savings.”

Mr Hunter said the council currently paid �5,132 on all-night lighting for the town, but research showed that by switching off some lights from midnight to 5.30am, as would be the case with the “intelligent” system, the bill would go down to �2,586.

He added: “That’s a very attractive �2,500 saving, although it will cost the town council �9,000 to install all 200 lights. The payback period is just over three and a half years and from then we will save every night.”

Mr Hunter said work would begin before the end of the month, followed by a period of testing.

The BBC would come and film in early March, after which the lights would be returned to the previous time patterns to enable some local consultation to be carried out. The lights would then be customised to suit local requirements.

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