Local Chells county councillor and Manor borough councillor, Robin Parker, has made strong representations to the government, to allow at leastsome of the proposed spending to refurbish all of Hertfordshire’s street lights.
The central government commitment to allow the spending (under PFI rules) had to be put on hold in June until plans to deal with the previous Labour government’s enormous debts had been agreed.
Cllr Parker wrote to the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond MP on June 8, saying:
I am fully aware of the unprecedented budget deficit that the government now has to tackle and it is clearly right that all expenditure commitments be reviewed.
However, I write to ask you to give very careful consideration to this refurbishment. The fact is that Hertfordshire has some of the busiest roads in the UK, and currently our street lighting assets are becoming too old to be reliable and costs are high in maintaining deteriorating equipment, cabling etc.
On August 17 Cllr Parker received a reply from the Duty Minister, Theresa Villiers MP, informing him they are:
…currently reviewing with HM Treasury those proposed street lighting projects where the previous Government had invited local authorities to submit Outline Business Cases to the Department for assessment.
I would hope that Departmental officials will be able to provide further clarification to Hertfordshire County Council on the position in the next couple of weeks.
The story was covered in the Hertfordshire Mercury (26 August) and the Stevenage Advertiser (1 September). Cllr Parker told the Stevenage Advertiser, “I hope they will announce at least some of the project can go ahead since it is really a spend to save project.”