£80m for lighting . . . but potholes must wait
RUSTING and faulty street lamps across Sheffield are to be completely replaced within five years after Sheffield Council secured grants worth almost £80 million.
But the city's bid to the Government for 500 million to resurface potholed roads remains on hold.
Transport Minister Rosie Winterton MP announced the city is receiving 79.3 million under the private finance initiative for improvements to street lighting.
The money will pay for:
Replacement of 59,000 street lights, illuminated signs and bollards - 80 per cent of the city's total - within five years
A contractor to maintain all lights to a high standard for the following 20 years
Additional lighting in some currently unlit areas
Modern, white lights which are more energy-efficient and brighter than old fashioned orange bulbs.
Ms Winterton said: "Experience shows better street lighting helps improve road safety, as well as reducing crime and fear of crime. I am very pleased Sheffield is using this PFI arrangement."
Sheffield Council now has to choose a contractor for the work. The 20 per cent of lights which are not being replaced are those which have been erected most recently on routes such as the inner ring road.
Leader Coun Jan Wilson said: "We are very pleased - it means the whole lighting stock will be up to date, making sure people are safe and improving visibility for drivers.
"We will share the funding around the whole city so everyone benefits."
Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for transport and streetscene, said: "It's great news that we have been allocated these funds.
"We are conscious that the existing equipment is reaching the end of its design life and the PFI funding will provide improved lighting across the city." Coun Wilson said a date has not yet been set for work to start because the grant has only just been approved - but areas such as roads dangerous at night because of poor visibility are likely to be targeted first.
She added officers hope to work with Yorkshire Electricity Distribution to arrange for maintenance work to be carried out on circuits which supply the new lights, to cut the risk of faults developing, which can sometimes take a long time to fix.
Coun Wilson added the authority is still awaiting a decision on the pothole repair cash.
The size of Sheffield's bid is almost the entire budget for the whole of the UK, so it is believed the city may have to receive its share over a few years rather than all at once.
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