In the real world you have to think very hard about committing Â£6.8 million to a project with a 13 year pay back period. That is what the council is doing with its scheme to replace all of the bulbs in our street lighting with LEDs. Superficially this is a very attractive scheme. It ticks all of the green and cost saving boxes. It does though tie up large amounts of capital for a long time and like all forms of financial resource capital is a very limited commodity right now.
Next Tuesday at full council we will be debating an update on the councilâ€™s Corporate Plan. On page 26 it says:
Developed the Business Case for investment in LED street lighting which was approved at April cabinet.
The paper backing this says that the payback period for this investment is 13 years. If you dig around the budget papers you will find that the capital value of this project is Â£6.8 million. You might feel that the council should wait for this technology to mature before irrevocably committing Â£6.8 million of scarce capital to a technology that might be half the price next year.
Â£6.8 million would allow us to expand a primary school or to significantly add to our road resurfacing programme which Labour has cut back from Â£25 million â€™s when the Conservatives were in power to Â£15 million under Labour (a 40% cut). This project will use imported lightbulbs and take away the jobs of people who change the lightbulbs in our streetlights (because the bulbs have a longer life). Investment in roads and schools at least ensures that jobs are produced close to home.