Leeds City Council to get £6.6million boost from streetlighting contract 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 long-running 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” following 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 initially 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.

Following negotiations between the two parties, TVL has replaced its senior management team as well as replacing several under-performing sub-contractors and has agreed to heavily compensate the council.

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.

Lib Dem group leader Coun Stewart Golton, is urging the council to spend more on LED lights and abandon its energy-saving policy of turning off 8,000 streetlights between midnight and 5.30am by September 2016.

He said: “Instead of saving money at the expense of people’s safety the Council could invest in this new technology to cut their energy bills instead.”

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.

Explaining public safety is paramount in its decisions, a council spokesman said: “We are continuing to monitor those areas where the street lights have been turned off and will continue to be flexible if any issues arise.”