Streetlighting improvements to be accelerated via £40m cash boost

A £40m investment may be made into upgrading more than 50,000 streetlights in Oxfordshire with the county council’s cabinet set to consider the proposals on Tuesday, July 17.

The council wants to accelerate its replacement of old streetlighting columns with modern and more energy efficient LED lighting. There are almost 60,000 streetlights in Oxfordshire – around 9,000 of these have already been upgraded to modern LED lighting in recent years.

The £40.8m funding for the work will be borrowed by the council with the entire cost paid back within nine years from cheaper energy bills as a result of having more modern lighting (£39m) and less of a requirement for maintenance given more modern lighting (£1.8m).

Higher quality

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Yvonne Constance, said: “We need to plan for the future of our streetlighting. This proposal is a sensible use of borrowing with a clear plan for the money to be paid back as a direct consequence of the investment made. Residents would notice higher quality streetlighting that is less likely to fail – which is an excellent thing at any time of year but particularly in the dark winter months. Meanwhile the Oxfordshire taxpayer gets value for money from as a result of the council not having to pay so much in energy bills over the next decade and beyond.

“The ever rising cost of energy bills makes this proposal a common sense one to pursue. We currently have an annual budget of £3.5m for streetlighting but the annual cost of electricity and maintenance has increased to £4.9m over the last few years. Our Oxfordshire residents will know all too well from managing their own household budgets that electricity prices have been on the rise – and that is a trend that shows no sign of abating.

“Now is therefore a good time to be setting out a long term strategy with sensible and proportionate borrowing and a clear plan for that borrowing to be paid back, meaning quality of life for our thriving Oxfordshire communities is enhanced.”

All LED lighting equipment that has already been installed and that would be installed in future would be of the most modern variety and within Public Health England guidelines.

The scheme will look at opportunities to lay the foundation for a smart city, that will meet the needs of future travel and electric vehicle use.

Should cabinet approve the funding on July 17 work on the new streetlighting would take five years to complete with the bulk of this taking place from Spring 2019 onwards.