STREET lights in Blackburn and Darwen are to get a £9 million plus upgrade including removing ‘downright dangerous’ 40-year-old lamp columns.

Senior councillors are set to approve the major investment on Thursday in the latest stage of a major improvement programme to the borough’s highways.

In July last year, Blackburn with Darwen Council launched a £17.5 million scheme to tackle the hundreds of potholes pockmarking its streets and enraging motorists.

Now its executive board is preparing to invest £9.9 million over two years to completely refit street lights with the latest LED technology.

It will include ‘the repair and replacement of defective street lighting columns’.

The item for Thursday’s meeting says: “Many of these columns are almost double their design life, are a liability to Blackburn with Darwen borough council and may be a risk to the public.”

The new lights should halve energy bills for the council, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, cut maintenance costs, and provide a much clearer white light for drivers rather than the yellow sodium glare.

Tory highways spokesman Alan Cottam welcomed the move: “This is a sensible investment to save money,” he said. “Some of the old concrete lighting columns on side streets are more than 40 years old and downright dangerous.

“They have been mended over the years and if a car hits one of them, someone is likely to get killed.”

Council regeneration boss Maureen Bateson said: “Over the next two years the council are looking into investing funds in our street lighting to help the borough save money in the long term and complement the current Network Recovery programme to improve our roads.

“These new modern LED street lights will help the council save money.

“They will also reduce its carbon emissions as such this make our network cheaper to maintain and more energy efficient.

“This scheme will see the council invest more than nine million pounds to see the borough’s streets lit by new lights that are guaranteed energy efficient for the next 20 years.”

Contracts for the work, which, the council says, will ‘help improve road safety and have a positive impact on crime and disorder’, are expected to be awarded next month.