A TEN year £1 million programme to improve and upgrade footway lighting in rural areas has been set out by Eden District Council’s Executive.

For over a year, the district council has been working with parish and town councils to develop a long-term solution to the provision of footway lighting in rural areas.

A scrutiny group of district councillors has also considered the issue.

It followed the Electricity North West Ltd announcement in 2011 that it would be removing footway lights from their electricity transmission poles. This was due to potential liabilities following the tragic death of a BT linesman who was electrocuted whilst repairing telephone equipment sited on a pole.

In Eden there are 1,581 footway lights, 681 of which are situated on telegraph poles. Replacing this lighting stock would cost the authority more than £1 million.

The council agreed a footway lighting policy in December 2012 which included a criteria for assessing, maintaining and retaining footway lighting. The council estimates that 526 footway lights meet this criteria, so it would cost nearly £1 million to upgrade them over a ten-year period. A number of footway lights on main roads will be offered to Cumbria County Council and lights on social housing will be offered to Eden Housing Association to maintain.

The remaining 892 lights, which do not meet this criteria, could under the district council proposals continue to be maintained by the authority until they need replacing or they are taken down by Electricity North West Limited or are adopted by other parties such as parish councils.

Eden District Council’s Environment Portfolio Holder, Coun Mike Tonkin said: “A great deal of hard work is being done to find the most sustainable and affordable solution for the provision of footway lighting in rural areas. This has not been an easy and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation process. A working group will now consider the final recommendations for full council to approve in February.

“As part of the recommendations, the final report to the council on February 20 will seek to allocate £100,000 for capital works on footway lighting in 2014/15. This would be the first year of a ten year programme, and this sum would be in addition to any monies being provided by Electricity North West Limited. We would also seek to transfer responsibility for a further 112 lights to the county council, who are the highways authority. It is not a statutory requirement duty for district councils to provide footway lighting, so rural councils do not receive any money from Government to provide it.”