Just last year the then Tory Portfolio holder for Highways Cllr Bob Seery announced to the press under a spotlight of publicity that hard work by the administration and officers had secured an
"£89 million cash injection from the government to revitalise street lighting throughout the county"
This money in the form of a PFI (private finance initiative) will eventually have to be paid back by you and me through our Council Tax But the benefit to us all of taking the loan out then for something we didn't know we needed, was according to Council to:
"reduce potential road accidents, improve community safety and reduce night time sky pollution. The PFI credits also mean that the county’s street lights, illuminated signs and bollards will also be properly maintained"
So excited was Bob that he told us that:
“It will enable all street lighting, which is the responsibility of the county council, to be improved in an expedited manner. If these financial resources Hadn’t been obtained it would have taken a great many years to carry out this work.
“In addition to providing modern, improved and safe street lighting the opportunity will be taken to address related environmental issues as well as contributing to improving safety and communities as a result of which everybody in the county should benefit.”
So after just 12 months what benefits have we seen from our £89m loan? and if we have addressed the environmental issues then why does Jim Harker propose now that we now turn off one in three street lights?
Are they for improving road safety or making our roads more dangerous? and do they really care for the environment or clueless as to how to really make green savings?
I am told that for a fraction of that total amount of £89m that all the County's street lights could be upgraded from the current ancient unreliable timer switches (which come on and off when they please it seems) to a computer based centrally controlled system which manages street lights on and off when they are needed on a hourly basis according to light levels.
This would save a small fortune, year on year and improve safety and reduce our carbon footprint, but it's all too much like common sense for our Tory Shirocracy to consider it, after all they have only just grasped the concept of the on/off switch.
I am also told by a proffesional driver that the distance between street lights is determined by the speed limit for the road, with them being closer together on roads with 30mph and further apart at 40mph or 50mph and so on. So by turning off every third light drivers at night will be tricked by the eye into thinking they are driving on a faster road than they are on.
So will Jim pay the fines of those caught out by his crazy and dangerous plan? or mores the point will he accept the responsibility for any pedestrian casualties if caused by badly lit roads?
And how we we tell which lamps need replacing and which don't, when a third of them are off and others just needing a bulb?
I will of course be asking the County Council just what they have done with the borrowed £89m which we are all still paying for and why it hasn't been used to make the very savings Jim needs without the last Tory to leave County Hall at night having to switch off the lights