WORK on a £14M street lighting replacement programme which it is hoped will save tax-payers £1.8m a year in bills started today (July 7).

Stockton Borough Council started replacing 28,000 lanterns in a seven-phase process which will last three years.

All street lighting columns over 25 years old will be replaced, with work taking place first on lamps over 40 years old.

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The project started today in the Roseworth area of Stockton.

Some areas will only need lantern replacements but others will also involve the addition, reduction or replacement of street lighting columns.

There has been some controversy over LED lighting elsewhere in the country with some people complaining that it does not disperse enough light.

However they have a longer lifespan, use less energy, are recyclable and contain no toxic materials, making them more environmentally friendly.

Stockton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport, Cllr Mike Smith, said that in fact they “generate a better quality of light” and added: “This scheme is yet another example of how we can work towards the savings we need to make in the long term while also making sure Stockton Borough remains a fantastic place to live, work and learn.”

Valmont Stainton Limited based on Teesside Industrial Estate, Ingleby Barwick, Stockton, will manufacture the street lighting columns after also winning the design contract. The company will be responsible for ensuring the streets are light to the British standard.

Cllr Smith, added: “I’m delighted that local businesses have been appointed as it means that the project is not only helping the council to generate savings, it is also supporting the local supply chain and safeguarding jobs in Stockton Borough too.

“As with any scheme of this nature, there will be some disruption but we will do all we can to keep to a minimum.”

Works on both lantern replacements and column replacements should start in the Western Parishes semi-rural area to the west of Stockton, Norton South, Hartburn and Stockton town centre, as well as in Roseworth, by the end of the year.

A total of 34 new ‘heritage-style’ LED lights and 30ft columns have already been installed on Yarm High Street at a cost of £150,000, replacing 19 old lights. There was some criticism from Yarm Residents Association that they were ‘out of keeping’ with the historic street.

However Stockton council said the lights were chosen to match the character of the 18th Century street.