Further issues ahead of completion of Northumberland streetlights programme

The troubled project to upgrade all of Northumberland’s streetlights appears to have hit another snag and more money is required to complete it.

Friday, 26th April 2019, 4:53 pm
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 5:10 pm
New streetlights in Christon Bank. Picture by Jane Coltman

A £25million streetlight modernisation programme for the county started in spring 2015, with the aim of converting a total of around 47,000 lights to more energy-efficient LED lamps, including the replacement of about 17,000 posts.

All work was originally due to be completed by spring last year, but the project was temporarily halted in October 2017 after Galliford Try’s main sub-contractor for electrical and civil engineering works went into administration.

A revised timetable was drawn up in December that year for the remainder of the works when a new sub-contractor came on board, which had summer 2018 as the hoped-for completion date.

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But that has now been and gone and the scheme, while close to completion, is not finished yet and there appear to have been further issues.

There is an item about the programme on the agendas of next week’s cabinet and full Northumberland County Council meetings, but it will be discussed behind closed doors without the press and public.

The agenda papers say that the update is to inform councillors of ‘the current status of the council’s streetlighting modernisation project in terms of progress towards completion of works, forecast budget out-turn position and areas of contractual dispute.

‘The report also seeks approval for an additional capital budget allocation to meet ongoing payments up to contract completion.’

A council spokesman said: “Our ambitious scheme to replace more than 40,000 streetlamps across the county is nearing completion.

“The scheme will ultimately produce overall energy savings of around 64 per cent – or around £1.3million a year – as well as replacing all old and life-expired streetlights.

“The main construction work is now more than 97 per cent complete, with the main work remaining being the fittings of lights which are fixed directly to electricity company poles or supplies.

“For commercial and legal reasons, we are unable to comment on other matters.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service