The Infrastructure Asset Manager and Lighting Engineer talked through the Agenda Report, highlighting that the information provided had built on that presented at the previous session on 5 March 2019.
Attention was drawn to the following areas:
· In areas affected by the ‘Part Night Switch Off’ initiative, around 8,000 LED lanterns had been fitted over the last 2 years to replace obsolete low pressure sodium (SOX) lanterns. Despite these lanterns now burning all night, the annual 595,000 kwh saving was around £80,068 per annum, based on 13.445p per kwh
· Regarding possible anti-social behaviour and other crimes being associated with the part night switch off scheme, the Lighting Team had been in liaison with West Mercia Police. Generally turning off street lighting in the majority of areas had little or no impact on crime and disorder, but just occasionally a hot spot occurred and was addressed. on an agreed case by case basis.
· The Street Lighting Programme (Phase 3) for 2020/21 and 2021/22 had been allocated a further £1m per year to roll out additional SOX to LED lanterns, however, no extra capital funding had been awarded, therefore only current maintenance funds would enable replacements to continue, on a worst first basis
· Concrete columns were being reassessed and ranked from 1 (good condition) to 5 (requires immediate attention). The Panel was reminded that around 700 had been replaced to date and there were no category 5 or 4 columns currently. In the last year 387 had been replaced and it was anticipated that a further 300 would be replaced
· Officers were disappointed to report that a ‘retro fit’ lamp, which had been used to directly replace an old SOX lamp in an existing lantern, had become unreliable and was therefore no longer used. This had resulted in a more costly and time consuming process as the whole lantern had to be replaced
· Prysmian, the Council’s Lighting Maintenance Contractor, had not been able to complete all of the anticipated LED conversions by 31 March 2020, partly due to individual faults occurring due to failing SOX lanterns and also the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Panel noted that Prysmian crews had worked throughout the national lockdown, however, productivity had slowed in line with government guidance and additional precautions
· By September there would be 23,000 LED lamps in Worcestershire representing 42% of the total number of streetlights equalling the national average for conversions
· Problems with access continued to be of concern, for example in alleyways or divorced footways when hydraulic platforms were unable to access the area. This was a particular issue in Redditch and was a Council priority. A safe ladder solution had been developed by Prysmian and a programme of activity had been developed
· An identified trial site in Worcester City, combining street lighting and electric vehicle charging, had unfortunately not been suitable
· Customer complaint management had been improved following feedback from the previous Scrutiny session and the public were now informed in a timelier manner, in addition to external influences such as those involving Western Power Distribution for example
· New technology was constantly being developed and initiatives, such as solar lighting, central management systems (CMS) and colour temperature of LEDs would be considered if appropriate for Worcestershire.
In the ensuing discussion, the following main points were discussed:
· A Member enquired as to why Major Traffic Routes were exempt from ‘Part Night Switch Off’ yet Motorways were often lit at intervals. In response, it was reported that there was a duty of care towards road users and obligations in road safety measures
· It was confirmed that in respect of 5G innovation in the last 18 months, the current tranche of all LED replacements would be 5G enabled for smart city future use, in readiness for roll-out of 5G. In order to be able to switch off alternative lamps or dim them, a Central Management System (CMS) was required and the Panel was advised that a trial of a CMS was being carried out at Lea Castle
· During the explanation of how the cost of unmetered supply was calculated, clarification was sought on the price 13.455p per kwh (as per paragraph 35 of the Agenda Report)
· In response to a question about how much funding was required to achieve 100% LED replacement (from 42%), the Panel was advised that there were various options and that Officers would provide the Panel with details
· A Member was concerned about the number of access issues, particularly in Redditch, resulting in alleyways and divorced footways being unlit for a considerable time and asked for further detailed information of the new safe working programme in Redditch in order to report back to residents
· Reference was made to paragraph 37 which showed where the conversions had taken or would take place since April 2019 and the cost of those conversions. Members suggested that it would be helpful to include additional information such as how many conversions were left to do, the payback rate and the costs etc as this would aid the decision making process
· In response to a question about sourcing supplies from within the County, it was reported that there was a track record of working with local businesses, such as TRT Lighting Ltd in Redditch
· A Member reminded the Panel that not all Street Lights were County assets, with some being the responsibility of Parish or Town Councils. What percentage of all street lighting in Worcestershire is maintained by Parish and Town Councils? How can the County Council help Parish and Town Councils upgrade to LED?
· A Member mentioned that his Parish had upgraded their street lighting to LED lights using a UK manufacturer that had supplied a light that fitted in well with their surroundings in a Conservation Area. The Officers asked for the details of the supplier to be sent to them
· The Panel was disappointed that the on street electric vehicle charging trial in Worcester City had not been able to proceed and actively encouraged the Council to establish another opportunity
· The Panel commended Prysmian for working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following information was requested:
· Clarification on the legal position of ‘Part Night Switch Off’ on major traffic routes
· Clarification of the 13.455p per kwh cost as quoted in the Report
· Request for an update from the reassessment of the category 3 concrete columns, specifically the number which have been downgraded to category 4 or 5
· How much investment would be required to increase LED installation from 42% to 100% and what would be the payback period for this
· Further information on the Redditch element of the divorced footway programme.
The Panel agreed to wait until the further information had been received before considering any recommendation to the Cabinet Member with Responsibility, however, on information already received there appeared to be strong economic and environmental benefits to work at pace.
The Chairman thanked everyone for their attendance and wished to thank Prysmian for their continued efforts through the national lockdown. A general Street Lighting update would be scheduled for 12 months’ time.