Our street lighting policy

1. Background and purpose

In accordance with the Highways Act 1980, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, there is no statutory requirement for local authorities to provide public lighting. Councils do, however, have the power to provide lighting and once provided, have a duty of care to ensure that assets for which they retain responsibility are maintained in a safe condition.

Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), as the Highway Authority, is responsible for all street lighting on the public highway and maintains most streetlights (around 52,000) across Cambridgeshire, including illuminated signs and bollards.

South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC), as a permitted lighting authority, has retained responsibility for a small range of lights (around 1800), defined as footway lighting which are generally located in residential areas within a number of villages across South Cambridgeshire. No new additional footway lighting is provided by the authority. For simplicity the service refers to its footway lights as streetlights and will refer to them as such throughout this document.

Our streetlights are maintained in partnership with Parish Councils and under this partnership arrangement we have a responsibility for maintaining the lights whilst Parish Councils pay for electricity.

This policy outlines the responsibilities, basic principles and standards for the maintenance of our streetlights and planned improvements to this stock. This policy has been developed with reference to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Streetlighting Policy and in consultation with parish and neighbouring district councils.

This policy will be reviewed every 3 years or as required.

2. Partnership working

Given the shared arrangements for streetlighting in Cambridgeshire, we recognise the importance of working closely with partners in the delivery and development of the service. In addition to the involvement of partners in the development of this policy, we have entered into joint maintenance arrangements with Fenland District Council and have set up a Cambridgeshire Streetlighting Network with a view to future service developments.

The service will also work closely with Parish Councils and Members in the maintenance and development of streetlighting.

3. Streetlighting maintenance

We are responsible for the following in accordance with all relevant standards and legislation: 

  • Providing and maintaining an inventory of all streetlights it maintains.
  • The repair and maintenance of all streetlights on the inventory.
  • Cyclical structural and electrical testing of all streetlights on the inventory.
  • The replacement of streetlights on the inventory where necessary.
  • The removal of streetlights, where agreed with Parish Councils.
  • Assessment and approval of any attachments to the streetlights on the inventory.
  • Labelling and numbering of all streetlights on the inventory. All of our lights are identifiable by an SC prefix.

3.1 Fault reporting

Report a streetlight fault

Alternatively, general faults with our streetlights can be reported via:

  • Our Contact Centre on 01954 713 000 between 8am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday
  • An out of hours reporting service by calling 01354 654321

Urgent faults must be reported via telephone only and not the website to ensure they are dealt with immediately, and in the case of emergency the matter should be reported to the police. 

3.2. Fault response standards

A report of a faulty streetlight to SCDC will be categorised at the point of receipt by the contractor and responded to within the following times:

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Response Category

Response Time

Emergency (where there is a risk of serious injury or immediate risk to life)

Attendance within 3 hours

Major Fault (for example, several lights are out in one street)

Attendance within 24 hours

Minor Fault (for example, a light is dim or not working)

Attendance within 28 days


In any emergency or major event the asset shall in the first instance be made safe by the contractor in accordance with the above response times, following which required repairs will be made.

3.3 Cyclical Testing

In accordance with relevant regulations and standard, the streetlights will be:

  • Structurally tested at required intervals in accordance with Institute of Lighting Professionals Guidance Note 22/19 and as required by the results of previous structural testing.
  • Electrically tested every 6 years.

4. Attachments to streetlights

Any attachment to a streetlight may affect the structural integrity of the light or interfere with public access and access required for maintenance.  The attachment of any kind to a streetlight on its inventory therefore requires approval from us prior to any action being taken.    

Please be aware that any un-approved attachments may be removed by us without notice.  

We accept applications for attachments from non-commercial organisations only for the approval of signs, vehicle speed indication devices, CCTV and Smart City measures. Vehicle speed indications devices should be battery operated. 

We will not approve applications for the attachment of hanging baskets, festive decorations, catenary wires, litter or dog bins, or banners to its streetlights.      

We will generally make arrangements for the installation of attachments to its streetlights for the applicant, which ensures adherence to all relevant requirements and mitigates any potential damage to the asset.  

As assessments of applications and installation works will vary, depending on the request, there may be a charge at the discretion of the responsible officer.

We request applicants to contact them prior to any application as there are streetlights for which it may not be able to approve any attachments. To enquire about making an attachment to one of our streetlights please contact us early on, and in advance of purchasing any attachment, as we have streetlights for which it may not be possible for us to approve attachments. To enquire, please email street.lighting@scambs.gov.uk

We will be reviewing current/historic attachments on its street lighting which may lead to their removal where they affect safety or impede access.

5. Streetlighting improvements - LED upgrade and replacement program

We aim to upgrade our streetlights to LEDs by March 2021, which will include the replacement of existing streetlights columns and brackets, where structural condition requires this. Standard streetlights will be upgraded initially, with heritage/ornate lights within a second phase of works, given their bespoke nature. We will work closely with Parish Councils and Members when considering upgrades to heritage/ornate lights. 

Our streetlighting in residential areas will be dimmed by 40%, giving a 60% light output between 10pm and 6am in line with Cambridgeshire County Council streetlights to improve the consistency of lighting. 

The upgrade seeks to benefit the communities and the environment by:

  • Improving the quality of our street lighting
  • Reducing energy consumption by at least 60%
  • Reducing light pollution by dimming lights during set hours and improved control of light output
  • Supporting the wellbeing of people and wildlife by installing a warmer colour temperature LED
  • Reusing and recycling materials where possible within the upgrade
  • Provide a beneficial and cost-effective alternative to existing sodium lamps which are gradually being phased out
  • Reduce maintenance and associated costs due to the greater lifespan of LED (25 years) and through the replacement of older units
  • Enable the future incorporation of smarter lighting measures to the benefit of communities