Guest column: No justifying street lights being switched off in Gainsborough

Coun Paul Key listens to a Gainsborough resident at last year's public meeting
Coun Paul Key listens to a Gainsborough resident at last year's public meeting

How much does it cost to change a lamp bulb?

That’s a well known question but before I answer it, here’s some history.

Last summer, Lincolnshire County Council turned off street lights between midnight and 6am to save money.

It was their reaction to the continued reduction of the block grant made by Government something all councils are experiencing, but not all councils put lights out.

Last October I called a public meeting, attended by more than 80 residents, where county councillor Lesley Rollings told us that Government insisted that the council make £250 million budget cuts over four years.

She told the meeting that the council will change all the lighting over to energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) lamps over a 10-year period.

In December I presented a petition with almost 3,000 signatures to the council requesting that the lights be kept on.

Since then I have asked a number of detailed questions of the council through freedom of information (FOI) requests.

Contrary to Coun Rollings’ statement that it will take the council 10 years to replace all lights with LEDs it appears that they are working flat out to fit streets with LED lighting which reduces the electricity used by the by up to 85 per cent

If they continue at the present rate they will complete the project in two years not 10.

While I support their efforts to move quickly to LED street lighting, the additional cost savings made from switching off the LED lights between midnight and 6am are relatively small and cannot be justified.

So the council should keep Gainsborough street lights on all night.

Back to the question, how much does it cost to change a light bulb?

The council’s response to my FOI request stated: “The cost of installation of these lamps is covered by a high level order to our term maintenance contractor, which covers labour, tools, vehicles etc, for the whole county for the year.

“So, it is not possible to identify an actual cost per installation.”

Pardon me but would you ask an electrician to change your lamp bulbs without knowing the cost?

Gainsborough Town Council, which has opposed the lights being switched off, is holding its annual meeting on March 1 at the United Reform Church on Church Street (refreshments at 6pm, meeting at 6.30pm).

I encourage residents to come and express your views on lights being switched off,