Tendring District Council leader to recommend street lights turned back on
Street lights could once again be switched on overnight in the Tendring district - if agreement can be reached over who foots the bill.
The lights are turned off between midnight and 5am, except in town centres and at dangerous road junctions, under a part-night lighting policy from Essex County Council.
But the money-saving scheme has faced criticism in some areas because of fears it increases the risk of crime.
Now it has emerged Tendring District Council’s Tory leader Mick Page will ask fellow councillors to allow him to begin negotiations with County Hall for street lights to be turned back on overnight.
But there is debate over who should pay for it.
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The Labour group at TDC has called on the district council to pay the estimated annual cost of £160,000 to turn them back on, but it is understood TDC chiefs believe the county council should pick up some of the bill.
In a public consultation, more than 200 of the 309 responses called for the lights to be turned back on, though many parish councils opposed the move.
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During a cabinet debate on the results Mr Page said he would be asking County Hall to turn the lights back on, and he will ask his council colleagues for permission to begin negotiations.
Speaking after the meeting he said: “Although there are 138,000 people in Tendring only 300-odd people responded to the consultation.
“But I have said all along I am open-minded about it and it is up to residents to decide – and the biggest percentage of residents who came back said they want them back on.
“It is split down the middle, particularly between rural and urban areas.
“However I have no way to go and negotiate on the council’s behalf until this motion goes through – I can’t start to talk to County Hall and say ‘I want the lights back on’.
“The council has to look at what the costs might be. No actual figure has come from the county council, and we believe other councils have been told to provide three years’ funding.
“That could be more than £500,000, which is a big responsibility for the council.
“We won’t know what the options are until we speak to them.”
The final decision on whether to ask ECC to turn back on street lights and to pay for the cost will be made at a full council meeting on March 24.
Elsewhere in Essex the Labour-led Harlow District Council has already approved such a move and requested negotiations, while Colchester Borough Council’s Liberal Democrat/Labour/independent coalition cabinet will debate a similar measure costing £185,000 at a meeting on Wednesday.