Minutes - Public Meeting - Wednesday, 16th March, 2016
Minutes of a PUBLIC MEETING to discuss ELDC proposal to turn off the Footway Lights and/or pass responsibility to the Parish Council, held in the Village Hall Meeting Room on Wednesday 16th March, 2016 at 7.00 pm
Parish Councillors present: Cllrs. P. Rickett (Chair), C. Henderson (Vice Chair), S. Osbourne,
R. Parkinson , R. Joynson, R. Bealey, R. Cordy and H. Mason.
Invited Guests: Cllr Craig Leyland, Leader of ELDC and Mr Stuart Davy, Chief Executive of ELDC
Also present: Cllr Palmer (ELDC), Cllr McNally (ELDC & LCC).
Members of the public present – 12 signatures on file,
Clerk: Mrs P. Plumridge
This meeting was audio recorded.
The Chair introduced our Parish Councillors and guests to the audience. He informed the meeting that the outcome of our previous meeting resulted in two things:
The Parishioners wanted the footway lights to stay on;
Parishioners do not want to pay for the footway lights to stay on.
A petition has been passed to the Parish Council with approximately 220 signatures on it, requesting that the lights stay on. There are over 550 people on the electoral roll of Marshchapel.
The meeting progressed to a question and answer session, all questions going through the Chair. The questions are all on file, this is a summary of the answers from our guests.
The total budget for ELDC is £18m, the target for 2019 is £12m, a 30% reduction. It has been reduced from £22.5m in the past 2 years. By 2019 the local authority will have to be self financing and this will be achieved mainly from the business rates which will be collected and retained, not sent to central government. In order to raise more business rates it is essential to encourage growth.
Footway lighting is a discretionary service that the District Council provide in some parishes, not all parishes have footway lights, some have very few, others have a lot more but it is a discretionary service, therefore it can be cut and the responsibility passed to the Parish Council. The Executive board will look at other ways of saving money i.e. movement sensors and timings when they make a final decision.
If the footway lights are turned off a risk assessment will be done, similar to the one carried out by the County Council and it may be that the light/s remain on, due to the results of the risk assessment.
It was again emphasised that this is a discretionary service provided by the District Council, not all Parishes have footway light and no decision has yet been made. There will be a further consultation with all Parishes, and those who have already opted to have their footway lights turned off, will be permitted to change their minds if they now wish to keep them on. This consultation will be until the end of May 2016 and the final decision will be taken by August. It is envisaged that the District Council will put together a package that will cover the cost of the insurance for the
footway lights, the cost of running them and the maintenance. It will also have a cost built in for replacements as and when they are needed. This package will be re-charged to the Parish. It is also envisaged that the District Council will include in this package an arrangement, whereby, for the first three years the District Council will meet the cost of any lighting column that needs replacing so that the Parish can get an idea of costs they need to factor into future budgeting.
Questions were asked regarding funding to projects which seem remote from Marshchapel, i.e. Magna Vitae and the So festival. Magna Vitae is a new project which is envisaged will be self funding within 2/3 years and the funding for it is reducing annually. Likewise Arts Festivals, in times of austerity will have their funding reduced quicker, however, we still need to invest in tourism which brings many positive things into the district. The So festival grant/funding was phased over 3 years and is on a sliding scale.
It was questioned whether the District Council had a ‘duty of care’ to provide footway lights especially in view of the poor state of the footpaths and elderly people as well as school children needing the footway lit. It was answered that this will all be taken into account when the risk assessment is done if the lights are to be turned off. The poor state of the road signs, cats eyes etc was also raised and it was answered and pointed out that the Police and Road Safety Partnership have not yet been asked to comment on the proposal and when they do so their comments will be taken in account. Likewise the comments of the Police with regard to the safety of businesses and the possible crime rate will also be considered.
It was commented that the County Council are looking at turning the lights off at mid-night, was this something the District Council might do? The reply was that the District Council will take advice and look into that possibility.
All the questions/comments raised will be taken into account and considered.
The Chairman asked if we would be getting a complete and final inventory of the lights in Marshchapel as accurate information is needed to budget from, this would be forthcoming. There was a discrepancy over the number of lights, 4 at Eskham had been included in Grainthorpe and some appear to be missing plus some might not be footway lights. This will be sorted out. One questioner wanted to know if the lights on the recent development in Hallgarth by Waterloo Housing were included in the scheme as they pay a charge for these lights. They were assured that if they pay a specific charge for footway lights, they will remain on.
The question of LED lights was raised and why there has not been a rolling programme of updating and maintenance. It was pointed out that these costs have only recently been reduced enough to be a factor in this but this will be looked at in the budget review and will be reflected in the proposed costing programme. To invest a year ago in this technology had an 8 year payback, to invest now has a 5 year one.
It was questioned whether the towns in the district will be affected but the response was that the towns mainly have highway lighting, which is the responsibility of the County Council.
It was again emphasised that the responses from the Parishes to the District Council are very important as these will raise issues which need to be assessed. Each village will have specific issues and the consultation will last until 31st May. A decision will be made by August, which will be a permanent decision. If the decision is made to turn the lights off the cost of taking out this
infrastructure will also have to be taken into account since the lights cannot simply be left in place, they will need to be removed.
It would appear that East Lindsey is not the only District looking at the possibility of passing responsibility of the footway lighting to the Parish Councils, there are other Districts which have already passed this over but they were not named.
The life-span of a lamp column was questioned; as a general rule 15/20 years is considered the life span but some last as long as 30 years. The envisaged cost of replacement currently is £350-£360. If the Parish Council take on the responsibility for the footway lights they will be given report of the stock condition, which has already been done, to help with their budgeting.
A suggestion that when maintenance is carried out to a street light, the lights either side should be targeted as well, was taken on board, since it would spread the cost of the equipment being used and make good use of time.
If the Parish accepted responsibility and a very high cost was unexpectedly involved the District Council would enter into discussions with the Parish Council and help spread the costs.
It was questioned why the District Council were offering free car parking when this could help raise the £100,000 needed for lighting. This was answered in that it encourages the economy and helps businesses and has been done to encourage viability.
Finally, ELDC have looked at devolving powers to the Parish Council due to the Government challenge of saving £12b through local authority budgets.
On looking through the questions, which are on file, it was felt that everything that had been raised was answered. Parishioners had had the opportunity the question Cllr Leyland and Mr Davy and the Chairman brought the meeting to a conclusion, thanking the public and our guests for attending and answering our questions.
Meeting closed at 8.34 pm
August 5, 2016, 1:39 pm