Villagers could be asked to pay for street lighting - but people living in March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wisbech will not have to

PUBLISHED: 17:26 09 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 09 October 2017

Villagers may have to pay for street lighing under new proposals

Villagers may have to pay for street lighing under new proposals free use permitted under an attribution license

People living in villages could be hit by a street light tax under new proposals that say parish councils must foot the bill.

Since 1974 the district’s street lamps have been paid for by Fenland District Council, but after 43 years it has been decided the cost must be shouldered by people living in villages.

That means 12 parish councils must add in extra to resident council tax bills to pay for it.

People living in the four market towns of March, Chatteris, Wisbech and Whittlesey do not have to pay for their street lights.

Councillor Dave Connor said: “It’s a hidden tax that penalises people living in villages.”

There are 748 street lights across Fenland.

Some of those must now be replaced, according to a survey carried out by the council’s current street lights contractor, Balfour Beatty.

However, parish councils are yet to hear which lights need replacing so have no idea how much they must fork out in addition to paying for the electric cused and ongoing maintenance.

• The cost of one street lamp is £850 plus VAT with a company called Electrical Testing.

• It is £1,200 with Balfour Beatty.

Cllr Connor said: “That is a heck of a lot of money to find.

“At the moment it is just a proposal. But the idea is absolutely diabolical.

“We want this to go to full council so it can be fully discussed - we don’t feel we should be made to accept street lights as our property, then pay for them, we’ve seen no paperwork in any assets register.”

A decision is expected by October 19.

Cllr Connor said:

• So far Doddington, Wimblington, Wisbech St Mary, Gorefield and Parson Drove parish councils look likely to move to a company called Electrical Testing if they must pay for the lights - 432 within those four areas.

• Gorefield, Benwick, Tydd St Giles and Newton have not committed to if they will switch or stick with Balfour Beatty.

• Chrstichurch, Manea and Elm look set to remain with Balfour Beatty, he said.

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