City LED light re­place­ment to recom­mence

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - JA­NINE RANKIN

Palmer­ston North’s on-and-off street lights re­place­ment pro­gramme has been switched back on, but only partly.

The city’s street lights on busy and ar­te­rial routes will fol­low neigh­bour­hood streets in con­vert­ing to LED fit­tings.

The city coun­cil had halted the roll­out fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions that light­ing in up to 20 per cent of streets did not com­ply with light­ing stan­dards, but re­place­ments had gone ahead any­way.

The coun­cil’s fi­nance and per­for­mance com­mit­tee on Mon­day lifted the mora­to­rium con­cerned any delays would put the project at risk.

Road plan­ning team leader David Lane said with other cen­tres ac­cel­er­at­ing their con­ver­sion pro­grammes, it would be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to se­cure sup­plies of the new lights.

There was also a risk the coun­cil’s likely con­trac­tor could ac­cept work else­where.

The coun­cil would also lose out on the 85 per cent NZ Trans­port Agency sub­sidy for LED street light con­ver­sions – worth up to $3.4m.

Lane’s sug­ges­tion that the work con­tinue only on those streets where staff were sure the re­sults would com­ply with stan­dards was en­dorsed by the com­mit­tee.

Cr Lorna Johnson said she was dis­ap­pointed with the way the switchover had been man­aged.

She agreed ‘‘re­luc­tantly’’ to the com­pro­mise.

Johnson said while LED light­ing was much cheaper to op­er­ate, it seemed coun­cil­lors were not aware the change would high­light de­fi­cien­cies that would cost money to fix.

‘‘Lis­ten­ing to mem­bers of the public, it seems the level of light­ing has been re­duced.

‘‘That might be a per­cep­tion thing, but peo­ple feel less safe.

‘‘We need to be sure that carrying on is not lead­ing to any more safety is­sues.’’

Staff will con­tinue with a street-by-street au­dit to iden­tify prob­lems and sug­gest so­lu­tions, such as chang­ing the height of light poles or the an­gle of the arm, in­creas­ing the num­ber of lights, or trim­ming tree branches.

The is­sue prompted coun­cil­lors to ask for a re­port on the coun­cil’s other as­sets.

Mayor Grant Smith op­posed the re­port, as Au­dit New Zealand al­ready en­sured the coun­cil was check­ing its as­sets, and coun­cil­lors were ‘‘us­ing a sledge­ham­mer ... to sat­isfy a squeaky wheel’’.

The switch to LED street light­ing will con­tinue on ar­te­rial routes that com­ply with light­ing stan­dards.

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