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Council report shows street light upgrades in Derbyshire are delayed and over-budget

The county council’s plan to upgrade thousands of street lights across Derbyshire has soared over budget and completion has been delayed by more than a year.

In 2014, the then Labour administration at Derbyshire County Council signed off on plans to spend £23.3 million to convert 69,796 street lights in residential areas to more economic and environmentally friendly LED bulbs.

This was due to be completed by “the end of spring/early summer 2018”.

However, the project is still rolling on and is now set for completion by the end of 2019.

Borrowing to pay for the initial scheme was due to be paid back over an estimated eight years.

A report at the time said that LED street lights have a projected life of 100,000 hours, or 25 years. This is much longer than the 15,000 – 20,000 hours (three-four years) of conventional lamps.

Average annual saving estimates ranged between £1.2 million and £3.1 million, depending on the level of energy inflation.

A further £8.8 million was approved by the Labour cabinet in April 2017, just before the last election.

This funding was also to be borrowed and is to be spent on the county’s “strategic network”.

These upgrades relate to A road street lighting and include installing lighting columns more able to withstand collisions – along with replacing electrical cables.

This year, the now Conservative administration approved spending a further £5.77 million on the LED upgrade – for both the residential sites and A roads.

This would see the overall spend total £37.8 million.

A report approved by the full council in February said: “The project has been severely impacted by complex procurement issues, resources constraints and a delay in undertaking structural testing to inform detailed design on the strategic network.

“However, it is still anticipated that the overall delivery of the project, albeit completed over a longer time line, will deliver a £1.140m net base budget reduction by 2021-22.”

Reports relating to the ongoing project on the council’s website say that the LED upgrades began in 2016.

As of April 12, the most up-to-date figures, 57,142 out of the total 89,180 street lights (combining the figures for residential areas and the strategic network) had been upgraded – 64 per cent.

This leaves 32,038 to be upgraded.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “Upgrading the county council’s street lights is a major project which will save us more than £1.2million in energy costs as well as ongoing repair costs every year.

“The residential element of the replacement programme – which means we’ll have replaced 68,000 bulbs – is due to be completed by the end of 2019.

“There’s also an ongoing programme of work on some of the county’s A roads to upgrade to LED, which is more complex than replacing residential lighting.

“This is scheduled to be finished by April 2022. These upgrades include installing lighting columns more able to withstand collisions and replacing electrical cables.

“As LED lights are expected to last for around 25 years – five times longer than current bulbs – we’re not only reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, we’re also lowering maintenance costs.

“We’re committed to getting value for money for every pound we spend and by investing now, we’ll be making savings for years to come.”

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