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Basildon Council in bid to turn lights back on
Basildon Council wants to end County Hall’s late-night blackout by installing its own LED lamps on streetlights.
John Dornan, councillor responsible for the environment, has instructed officers to look at investigating how they could pay for the scheme themselves.
He said installing the energy-efficient LED lights would significantly reduce County Hall’s electrical bill.
However, under the plans Essex County Council would still foot that bill.
The Echo understands transport bosses at County Hall reacted unfavourably when the proposal was initially put to them.
Mr Dornan has led negotiations on the streetlights with County Hall, and said: “Since the lights have gone out, this is gaining traction and there have been an awful lot of pushbacks from residents and the Echo’s readers, who know this is a cost-cutting exercise.”
The lights went out from midnight to 5am on the majority of streets in Basildon last month after Essex County Council forced through the proposals, despite fury from fearful residents.
Basildon Council would pay for the energy-efficient bulbs using a one-off capital cost, with LEDs designed to reduce energy bills, which then County Hall would pick up.
It is believed around 60 to 70 per cent could be cut off local authority energy bills by installing the lamps.
More and more councils – including Southend – have elected to install the lamps to save cash rather than roll-out a programme of switch offs.
County Hall will save about £222,000 a year by turning off the lamps in Basildon, but Mr Dornan said that cost would again be drastically reduced with LED bulbs, which also have a longer lifespan compared to regular lights.
Mr Dornan added: “Tome it is a win-win situation, as residents get their lights back on and county make savings – albeit over a longer period.”
He insisted the authority could pull money out of its £24million of reserves, or borrow the cash. In Southend, the Tory administration has spent £2.65million installing the modern bulbs, in a fiveyear rolling programme.
Essex County Council refused to say why it had initially turned down Basildon Council’s offer.
A spokesman said: “We have looked into the possibility of using LED lighting; however this would not be economically viable for a county of our size at present. LED lighting is a new technology and the long-term performance is not yet fully known.”
Families claim they are living in fear
Families say they are living in fear after the lights went out in Basildon.
Essex County Council has said there is no evidence crime will go up due to the lights being turned off.
But one family has suffered a break-in, while another resident claims she had to chase thieves away.
Michael Smith was mugged in darkness in Uppermayne, and he blamed the lack of light for the incident.
Kelly Phillips, 42, of the Gore, in Basildon, had her shed broken into.
She said: “We had left our shed unlocked for years, but as soon as the lights went out we had it broken into.
They took some floodlighting.
“It’s very scary and I don’t go out after midnight now as I just don’t feel safe.
Michelle Thacker, 38, disturbed burglars at her home in Kirby Road, Basildon.
She said: “I’ve lived here for 11 years and I’ve always felt secure until now.
“My daughter woke me to say she could hear some people. I looked out and saw two people trying to break in. I screamed and they fled.
I don’t feel safe any more.”
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