Highway Maintenance

Hampshire County Council Street Lighting PFI Frequently asked questions

Q.1  What is a PFI?

A Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is a partnership between the public and private sectors. PFIs are used to help fund big projects such as new schools, hospitals and roads.  Local authorities change from being the owners and operators of assets to purchasers of services.

Unlike traditional procurement the public sector does not buy the assets but  pays for their use, together with associated services. Capital investment in the assets is made by the private sector which recovers its costs over a long contract period .

The Government helps by providing PFI ‘credits’. In the South Coast Streetlighting PFI, a private sector contractor will be given responsibility for designing, installing and operating the streetlighting service for the next 25 years.

PFI credits are a measure of the private sector investment which will be supported by central government. Issuing a PFI credit is a promise that PFI grant (money paid by central government to local authorities) can be claimed once the project is operational, and the level of PFI credits determines the amount of grant.

Q.2  Is a PFI the best way to fund this?

Without a PFI there would not be enough funding to carry out such a large scale replacement and improvement programme. It allows us to invest in the latest technology to save energy and cut carbon emissions.

A PFI also allows the risk to be shared between the public and private sectors.

Q.3  Why are we spending all this public money during a time of economic constraint? Why can’t we just carry on repairing the lights?

Many of our street lights are old and need replacing. Without the Government's money we wouldn’t be able to undertake such a large replacement programme. Also, many of our town centres need to be lit to a higher standard to make people feel safe and to encourage their use after dark. The replacement programme includes new technology lamps which are more energy efficient and effective.

Note: Question Four has been removed.

Q.5  Why do all the streetlights need replacing at the same time?

The work is being done in phases over five years to minimise disruption. Also, the programme is being coordinated with other work to avoid as much disruption as possible.

Q.6  Will the project help save energy and reduce carbon emissions?

There will be a slight increase in the number of lighting columns on the road network, but the lanterns used will be more efficient and better directed, so that they light the roads and pavements and not the night sky. Improved control equipment will help reduce wasted or misdirected light.

As a general rule any lighting stock over 15 years old is being replaced with white fluorescent light in residential areas, giving greater clarity and colour representation. Carbon emissions will be reduced through the introduction of remote lighting management, having the ability to change lighting times and levels. And as faults can be automatically registered, there should be no more need for staff driving around looking for problems.

Q.7  Have you thought about using solar power as an alternative?

Solar powered street lights are still in the development stage and are currently not cost effective. They are also visually intrusive, don’t provide a reliable source of light throughout the night and  easily vandalised or stolen.  Another drawback is they are not suitable for high power lights, as they often need back up batteries. Trials are being carried out but this is not yet proven technology.

Q.8  If new, more efficient technologies are developed in the future, is there an opportunity to change the lighting?

The service started early in 2010 and innovation is encouraged. The contractor has set aside funding to enable emerging technology to be incorporated in their installations.

Q.9  Are the new lights be brighter / dimmer / a different colour to the ones they’re replacing?

New or replacement lighting is designed to British and European lighting standards and will be “white light” in residential areas. The aim is to provide the right standard for the type of road, traffic flow and local conditions. Some roads will have noticeably brighter lighting for these reasons.

Q.10 How do you decide where they’re located?

In line with the design standards, new or replacement lighting columns will be sensitively placed on boundaries wherever possible or where they cause the least intrusion. We will try our best but some designs will be limited by the available electrical supply, the position of trees or other street signs.

Q.11  Will dimming the lights in certain areas increase crime?

All lights are being dimmed by 25% to reduce carbon emissions but safety is a priority. Research shows that better street lighting helps improve road safety as well as reducing crime and the fear of crime. Residents will be fully consulted where dimming is proposed.

Q.12  Who do I contact if there’s a problem with a street light in my area?

You can phone Hampshire County Council: 0845 603 5633 between office hours  and SSE Contracting: 0800 048 2437 for out of office hours. There is also the fault reporting website www.lightsoninhampshire.co.uk. Alternatively you can e-mail hampshirepfi@hampshire.com if you any questions.

Q.13  Will there be any disruption during the work?

Replacing or upgrading thousands of street lights means a big increase in work, but this is being programmed and planned over five years to reduce disruption and take account of local circumstances whenever possible.

Q.14  Are local people being consulted?

Consultations with key project Stakeholders, such as local councils, societies and historic groups, are taking place throughout the five year programme.   All residents will receive information in the post advising them of the project as it comes to their area.

Q.15  If you live in a conservation area, will the old style street lights be preserved?

There is provision for the sympathetic replacement of existing heritage lighting. Hampshire has many historic and conservation areas and replacements in these areas are handled in a sensitive manner in order to strike a balance between the need for lighting and protecting the character of these special areas. Parish and district councils are consulted to either agree the appearance of the replacement lighting or request that in such areas the old stock remains where it adds to the character of the area.

Q.17  Are local people being employed? What will happen to the staff working for the current contractor?

Staff currently employed in the street lighting service have transfered to the new contractor.

Q.18  How will the contractor be accountable for the work carried out?

Following the first five years of the contract, when all the lighting is being replaced or upgraded, the next 20 years will focus on maintaining and operating the system. This includes Hampshire County Council’s monitoring team keeping a check on project delivery and operations.

Q.19  I live in a rural area with no street lights – will there be new lights soon?

Around 13,000 of Hampshire’s street lights are operated by district, town and parish councils and most of these are expected to be included in the PFI. There are no plans, at present, to install lighting in currently unlit locations

Q.20  What happens at the end of the contract?

At the end of the contract maintenance of all street lights reverts back to the County Council.

Q.21  How can I find out more about the project and how it affects me?

There are several ways to find out more information. Details of the project timetable will be published on rthese web pages. During the five year replacement period public events will be held in all affected areas to inform local residents what’s happening and why. Any enquires regarding the PFI can be e-mailed to hampshirepfi@ssecontracting.com or you can call the County Council’s contact centre Hantsdirect on 0845 603 5633

Q.22 How do I get a light shield fitted on my new street light?

The majority of modern lanterns have optical controls designed to limit or counteract intrusion into properties. However on occasions where a light shield is felt necessary you can request one by e-mailing hampshirepfi@ssecontracting.com. For street lights that have been replaced as part of the PFI a charge will not be incurred to fit a light shield, however if the street light in question is older and not part of the PFI maintenance and replacement programme a charge will be incurred.  

Q.23 How do I get a column removed if necessary?

If you would like a column removed please contact hampshirepfi@ssecontracting.com. There may be a cost involved in the removal but each case is individually assessed.