THE STREET lights could be switched back on in Warwickshire.
Warwickshire County Council set its annual budget following nearly 13 hours of debate at Shire Hall with the minority ruling Conservatives getting the backing of the Liberal Democrats.
And the council, backed by all of Warwickshire’s MPs, agreed to submit a bid to the Government’s Local Highways Challenge Fund to replace the county’s street lighting with new LED technology.
Two years ago the council introduced the unpopular part night street lighting policy – which saw many areas of towns plunged into complete darkness in the early hours in a bid to save £500,000 a year.
If the bid is successful, £4 million would be spent replacing all 48,000 street lights in Warwickshire with LED technology.
The move would not only save money but would also cut CO2 emissions and allow the council to look again at its part night street lighting policy.
County highways spokesman Peter Butlin said: “The part night street lighting policy was a necessary step two years ago as the council sought to make £92 million worth of savings.
“I have always stated that if the technology and money was available the Conservative-led Council would look again at our night-time street lighting policy. If we are successful with this bid we can do just that as well as saving taxpayers money in the long run and cutting our CO2 emissions even further.”
The council set a budget of just over £385 million, which includes £3.8 million over the next three years focussed on the health and wellbeing of children aged up to five, £2.5 million for road safety measures to ensure youngsters get to and from school more safely, and £4 million investment in rural broadband to giving 98 per cent of Warwickshire homes access to broadband connections.
The county council portion of the Council Tax bill – which accounts for the lion’s share at around 80 per cent – will rise by 1.95 per cent – which equates to about 44p per week for a typical household.
It was fractionally under the two per cent maximum rise the council could set without it having to be approved by a local referendum.
Council leader Coun Izzi Seccombe said: “Councils across the country still face unprecedented pressures as the Government gets to grip with Labour’s legacy of debt and deficit, but we have been able to put in place a budget that is in the best interests of Warwickshire and which protects our most vulnerable residents.”
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Coun Jerry Roodhouse added the extra cash aimed at services for youngsters would
“nsure every child in the county has the best start in life.”
Green councillor Jonathan Chilvers predicted difficult times ahead.
He said: “Overall there’s still three years of eye watering cuts coming because of horrific central government cuts and people will continue to see massive changes – cuts in services around libraries, social care, voluntary grants etc.”
* Warwickshire Police has agreed a 1.99 per cent in its share of the Council Tax bill.
The police’s portion of the overall bill accounts for around ten per cent.
Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball said the increase – which amounts to 1p a day for a Band D property – would help safeguard the force’s £95 million budget.
Street lights in Warwickshire could go back on, and could also be updated with LED technology. (s)