Agenda item


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The Chair welcomed Tracy Brooker, Property Services Manager to the meeting, to respond to questions which had been raised at the Special Expenses meeting held on 16 November 2023, in relation to:


  • Has solar been looked at?


Tracy confirmed that the Council had looked at using solar power for streetlighting.   There were some advantages of using solar streetlighting but also disadvantages, the obvious one being that it was very weather dependant.  Also, the initial outlay was greater for solar lighting, it provided limited brightness and there was also an increase in maintenance costs because of the frequency of upkeep and cleaning of the solar panels.  Whilst it did have its uses, it was emerging technology, which was being kept under review, but it was not really suitable for the Borough’s streetlights at the moment.


  • Have we looked at joining up with county to make savings through procurement?


This was a function of the County Council, but they had devolved it to the Borough Council and unfortunately, they were not adopting any more streetlights. Some savings had been made. Under the Re:fit programme the Council was awarded £569,000 to change some streetlighting columns which had been procured at a reduction of approximately £270,000.  The remaining £300,000 from that budget was going to be used to replace all of the Borough’s streetlights with LED equivalents to reduce on-going energy costs.  The project was starting now, and it was hoped that it would be out to procurement at the beginning of the next financial year.


  • Lighting in the walks still using incandescent bulbs - what work is being done to replace them?


These would be replaced to LED lighting as part of the project detailed above.


In summary, the issues raised were on the radar already and it was hoped to bring the changes in as soon as possible subject to going through the appropriate tender processes.


The Chair thanked Tracy for the update and invited the Committee for questions / comments, as detailed below:


Councillor Jones stated that he understood the problems with solar panels, but he felt that there were other technologies where you could have mains supply so that when the battery in the solar panel reduced, it could switched over to the mains.


The Property Services Manager explained that the solar streetlights had a battery which needed replacing after every 10 years and could be a disadvantage where the streetlights were used more frequently.  There were some advantages to solar but not for large scale replacement projects.  She added that there were more disadvantages than advantages at the present time for solar lighting, but she envisaged that this would change in time as it was emerging technology.


Councillor Kemp asked if officers were aware that the County Council were sadly planning to cut out 2% of streetlights in Norfolk.  She added that there were areas in the town where streetlights were needed for safety reasons and asked if the County had been in contact with the Borough Council.  If the Council was trying to encourage walking and cycling more then streetlights were needed in various areas.


The Property Services Manager advised that she was not aware of that but was not surprised.  As Members were aware, there was Borough Streetlights and County Streetlights.  The Council was planning on replacing the existing bulbs for LED ones, to gain the benefits of reduced maintenance costs and also longevity.  There were no plans to adjust the timings of when the streetlights came on and to leave them as they currently were. 


Councillor Kemp stated that some of the areas in South Lynn, Nar Ouse Way, and at the rear of KLIC, which were Borough owned, were not working properly.  If people could not walk around safely, they would use other transport modes.


The Property Services Manager undertook to look at the area and see if the streetlights in question was the responsibility of the Borough or Norfolk County Council.


The Chair asked what steps the County Councillors had taken regarding this issue because the Borough had a responsibility to maintain their own streetlights.  Residents also needed to report them if there was an issue. 


Councillor Colwell stated that residents in Reffley had asked for solar lights to be considered in Reffley Park.  The land was owned by the Borough Council and leased to Reffley Community Centre.  He would welcome a discussion regarding that.


He also advised that any member of the public could use the on-line form to report an issue or contact their County Councillor.  He was also aware that Amey had undertaken a process in recent months to renumber the streetlights by way of yellow stickers and he encouraged residents to use that service if there was a light out.


The Chair added that residents should be empowered to report things themselves.  She put on social media the links to be able to report issues and she urged everyone to do that.


She explained that if there were instances of anti-social behaviour taking place then residents should be encouraged to log them and report them on the non-emergency number and when the Police next attended the meeting, they could be passed on to them.


Councillor Mrs Collop added that she often reported issues with streetlighting  via Amey and they were usually fixed within 3-5 working days.


The Chair thanked Tracy for the update and attending the meeting.