Basildon streetlights switched back on amid row over alleged ‘delay’

STREETLIGHTS are back on all night in Basildon and Essex Council has shaved £7,000 off the bill, following a slight delay to the switch-on.

Basildon Council’s Policy and Resources Committee approved a deal with Essex Council on October 2 to have the lights back on by October 31.

However, they did not start coming back on overnight until Monday, November 11.

Essex Council confirmed that £7,000 had been shaved off of Basildon’s bill, but denied the payment was associated with any delay and attributed it to a recalculation.

County Hall started switching off Basildon’s lights overnight in 2014. Since then, overnight crime has soared – although police have claimed publicly that the rise could be a coincidence.

Earlier this year, the Basildon Borough Alliance – a collection of Labour, UKIP and independent councillors currently running Basildon Council in coalition – announced it had struck a deal to switch the lights back on.

The move – which received cross-party support – saw Basildon agree to pay £145,000 to switch the lights back on until April 2020. After that the cost will be £275,000 for 2020/21, then £180,000 for the next three years after lights have been switched to energy-saving LEDs.

Basildon Council’s Labour leader Gavin Callaghan claimed that after the lights did not come on until mid-November, County Hall had agreed to knock £7,000 off of the bill to April 2020, bringing it down to £138,000.

But Essex Council’s Tory leader David Finch insisted to the YA: “The county council is very clear – there was no delay in signing the agreement on lights with Basildon, nor was there any delay in switching them on. Any statement to the contrary are factually incorrect.

“The agreement with Basildon is that they will pay the estimated cost of switch-on over the remainder of the financial year and in future years.

“Now we have the exact date the lights are on from, we have recalculated the estimated amount due and this is £7,000 less than previously calculated.”

Cllr Callaghan disputed the statement, telling the YA: “We had agreed to £145,000 to have them on for October 31. If you look at the minutes of the Policy and Resources Committee on October 2, it’s right there.

“We even offered to pay for somebody to work on a Saturday and Sunday to get them switched on on-time, but they said no. They didn’t put the lights on and they’ve knocked £7,000 off the price.”

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]