Council could increase tax to fund switch-on

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A COUNCILLOR has teamed up with the Bury Free Press to find out how the people of Bury St Edmunds feel about street lights.

The topic has become a controversial one since July this year, when Suffolk County Council began switching some off from midnight to cut costs.

Now the programme has been completely rolled out across Bury, Cllr David Nettleton, vice-chairman of the Bury Town Council, is keen to find out how the public feel about it, so the council can discuss whether to increase its Council Tax precept to fund a switch-on.

From today, the Bury Free Press is holding a reader poll which will last 10 days, closing on November 29.

Cllr Nettleton said: “I want to find out the views of the people of Bury on turning off the street lights between midnight and 5.30am. Are they in favour or against?

“If they want them turned back on, they have got to pay - this poll is just asking them what they want. I hear personal stories in the street each week - but that’s not the view of everyone and this poll will give us that information.”

In Bury, turning the street lights back on would cost, at current energy prices, an estimated £54,500 a year, although energy prices are expected to increase over the next few years.

The town council receives around £190,000 a year from Council Tax payments, with Band D homes paying £13.50 a year and smaller properties rated at Band A, B or C paying less.

To fund a switch-on, Band D homes could be asked for an extra contribution of as much as 45p per month.

Unlike in 2009, when the town council spent £10k surveying residents on whether to increase its Council Tax precept to provide better services, this poll is free and can be entered using the coupon to the right, by direct messaging us on Facebook or emailing yes or no to news@buryfreepress.co.uk

The council will not be bound by the result but its finance committee will discuss it on December 7, after which it will be published.