September 30 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, August 8, 2014
A parish council chairman has warned that “it’s not going to be a very nice year” after being told her village must find £140,000 in the next three years to replace 40 street lights.
Sylvia Tooke, chairman of Leverington parish council, said the situation was critical since Fenland Council had warned that 23 of the lights should be replaced within the year.
“We can’t say we don’t want the street lights, you can’t leave a village without street lights,” said Mrs Tooke.
“Every village is being hit by this apparently- it’s the first time it’s happened.”
The parish council chairman has also issued a statement through the village newsletter explaining that the parish owns 112 of the street lights in Leverington.
“Recently there has been a survey ordered by Fenland District Council (and all parishes in Fenland have been surveyed) and the results are alarming for all councils but especially for us,” says the statement.
“Twenty three of those lights should be replaced within 12 months, 40 within three years.
“The annual grant of £4000 from Fenland Council has also been cut this year to £3,000. At a cost at this time of £3,500 for each light that is an impossible task and the council cannot increase your council tax to that extent.
“The annual budget allows for two replacements in the year. No grants are available for this type of amenity. The parish council may have to make a decision to take out street lights instead of replacing them.”
The statement says that Councillor Bryan Baker has attended three meetings at Fenland Council on behalf of the parish council “to try and negotiate some kind of help and support as parish councils do not have that kind of money.”
Cllr Tooke’s statement added: “Because of the major expense in providing a parish cemetery, I can tell you that this parish has only £144.00 in the reserve account. “Enough for a few light bulbs! As you can see, council work is not easy.”
A Fenland Council spokesman said: “Balfour Beatty has carried out a survey of all the street lighting on behalf of the lighting owners. This involves about 1,800 street lights; about half are owned by FDC, the other half by parish councils. The survey data is currently being verified.
“The district council has held two meetings with parish councils to explore the best financial solution. Those discussions are continuing.”