NEW multi-million pound low energy street lights in Southend will improve safety as well save taxpayers cash, council bosses say.

Southend Council plans to spend £2.65million replacing all street lights in the borough with LED bulbs, which should save almost two-thirds on energy bills.

But the brighter white light the bulbs produce will also improve the quality of images produced by CCTV and make it easier for drivers to spot potential hazards on roads at night.

Tory council leader Nigel Holdcroft, who announced the planned spending as part of the coming year’s budget earlier this week, also rejected turning off street lights to save cash, as the county council is doing elsewhere in Essex.

He said: “We are not going to start switching Southend’s street lights off in the night. We are investing money to improve them and change to LED lighting.

“They will be cheaper to run and have a longer life span.”

Being able to demonstrate revellers have a well-lit route home was key to Southend being awarded a “purple flag”, an award for the management of town centres at night.

Southend is an urban area with a busy night life and Mr Holdcroft said good lighting was key to ensuring safety.

Highway workers have already begun the five-year job of replacing all 13,000 street lights in the borough in a rolling programme.

The authority, which has already spent £270,000 on the project during this financial year, plans to spend another £650,000 in the coming year, £500,000 a year for the following two years and £1million in 2017/18.

The strategic highways and traffic management team is planning a number of trials and demonstrations for elected members.

A council spokesman said: “The majority of lighting columns in Southend’s residential areas are fitted with a 35w lamp. The equivalent LED unit c o m p r i s e s around 14 light emitting diodes and provides much-improved colour as it is a white, compared to yellow, light. Therefore CCTV images would be significantly improved with LED street lighting.

We calculate each lighting column should save 64 per cent on current energy costs.”