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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Communities will not be left in the dark by street light changes, says Electricity North West

A utility company has defended plans to change its street lighting rules, insisting communities will not be “plunged into darkness”.

Electricity North West (ENW), which runs the region’s power network, met with street lighting authorities across Cumbria yesterday to clarify its position regarding lighting on footpaths, alleyways and car parks across the county.

The utility company took a decision in 2011 that, following the death of a BT engineer who was working on a “joint user pole”, they could not guarantee the health and safety of third parties.

It has therefore ruled that when its wooden poles carrying live electricity wires come up for replacement or repair, they will “remove all third party apparatus”, including street lights.

ENW carries out a rolling plan of improvements over 15 years but councils fear that the company is under no obligation to inform councils when it removes lights.

Eden, Allerdale and Copeland councils are concerned the cost of replacing the lights and poles is more than they can afford.

Steve Cox, future networks manager at ENW, said the company had agreed to give six months’ notice before removing any lights.

He added: “Unfortunately we are aware of a few isolated instances where the agreed period of notice has not always been provided and I apologise for any frustration or confusion that this has caused.

“Where lights have been removed without the agreed notice, we will work with the local council and will fund an agreed number of replacement lights, including new poles, if requested by the authority.”

Copeland has about 200 lamps on ENW poles, out of 1,400 footway lighting units. It estimates it would cost £300,000 to replace them. There are 1,581 footway lights in Eden, 681 on telegraph poles. Replacing these and other lighting stock could cost £1.6m.

Allerdale did not have figures for the number of lamps.

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