Renewed street light switch-on call to be made at Essex County Council budget debate today

County Hall.

County Hall. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Opposition councillors at County Hall will today call for funding for street lights to be switched back on across Essex.

Both the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups have tabled amendments to the Conservative administration’s budget which include money to reverse the current part-night lighting scheme.

Essex County Council (ECC) meets today in full to vote on the proposed budget.

At the moment street lights are turned off between midnight and 5am except in town centres and at dangerous road junctions.

Labour are proposing to take £1million from the collection reserve and reduce the Innovation Fund by £400,000 to fund switching the lights back on.

Group leader Julie Young said: “We will be moving this amendment in recognition of all of the residents, community groups, businesses and organisations such as the AA who have come out against this reckless policy which is both dangerous and ill-thought through.

“Our immediate goal is to address the deep concerns of residents by switching the lights back on as soon as possible which so far the Tories have been unwilling to address or even spare a thought for.”

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The Lib Dem group wants to use £360,000 from the emergency contingency to fund switching lights back on in district which have backed such a move with motions at the lower council level, with £60,000 from the consultation reserve to ask residents elsewhere what they want to do.

Other spending suggestions include £330,000 to pay for six additional highways engineers to speed up schemes, a £1.9m boost for Youth Service funding, and £750,000 to fund post-16 school transport to for youngsters from low income families to continue in education.

Lib Dem leader Mike Mackrory said: “We have listened to what residents across Essex are telling us. We also want to ensure opportunity for everyone, by boosting the youth service and adult education.”

Jamie Huntman, leader of the UKIP group at County Hall, said his party would be making suggestions but not tabling any amendments to the budget.

The Conservative budget plans, which include a council tax freeze, include £131m on the county’s transportation network, including £10m over two years to support the design of and consultation on the development of the A120 Braintree to Colchester and the Chelmsford North East bypass.