Multi-million pound council boost following streetlight dispute

Streetlighting on the streets of Beeston, Leeds.
Streetlighting on the streets of Beeston, Leeds.
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A £6.6million cash injection is heading to Leeds City Council following a dispute over a failing streetlighting contract.

The council signed a 25-year PFI contract with Tay Valley Lighting (TVL) in 2006 which has been in dispute “for many years” after a series of performance-related issues and counter claims.

The local authority initially agreed to pay TVL £1.1m a month under the terms of the deal, which could be reduced if the firm failed to meet performance targets in installing and maintaining the city’s streetlighting.

A report to the council’s director of city development explained that the authority had accused TVL of failing to clean and change lamps at regular intervals, of not reporting its own failings and of failing to undertake electrical tests in subways and in the private cable network among other things. The council estimated it was owed £10.3m from the firm.

The report states: “While the settlement sum is less than the amount which the council initially considered due, it represents and very significant lump sum for the council to receive at a time when council budgets are severely stretched.”

TVL, which subcontracted most of the delivery of the work to Southern Electric Contracting Limited, accused the council of underpaying and failing to pay them extra in light of changes in the law relating to energy consumption calculations. The council is holding back £391,000 it owes to TVL until certain milestones to address the service failures have been achieved.

Three investment schemes in LED lighting in subways, on roads and tunnels have been agreed – the bulk of the £720,000 to fit the LED lamps, which use half the energy of existing lamps, will come from the council.

Last year it was reported that the council’s electricity bills had increased by 40 per cent despite a £94m project to reduce energy consumption, sparking a move to turn off 8,000 streetlights between midnight and 5.30am by September 2016. The Labour Party claimed large areas are being “plunged into darkness” yesterday. It revealed over 1.3m streetlights are being switched off or dimmed by councils – a move criticised by pedestrian groups as impacting public safety.