FEARS are growing that ageing street lights could topple over during high winds.

Kirklees Council officers have admitted that the backlog of crumbling lamp-posts is growing.

The council has said there are concerns about “structural failure” for more than 75% of its 52,000 lights.

The admission comes 10 months after Dalton woman Jessica Clarke’s car was crushed when a lamp-post keeled over during windy weather last January.

A paragraph in a document to Kirklees Council’s Cabinet says: “More than 50% of the street lighting stock is in urgent need of replacement, being already beyond their lifespan of 25 years.

“Seventy seven per cent of the columns are within five years of their design life.

“This structural failure risk is currently managed by inspection, with prioritised replacement funded by the [street lighting] programme.

“However, despite more efficient use of this budget the backlog is still increasing, comprising principally of concrete columns mainly located in residential areas.

“The high winds during the winter of 2011/12 caused more damage to the street lighting columns, with urgent action being required to take down over 100 columns.”

The admission comes as the council’s Cabinet agreed to a £995,000 plan to upgrade another 1,500 street lights.

Over the past few years it has been spending £460,000 per year on upgrading about 900 “life expired” columns.

Its plan to spend £66m replacing all the district’s lights was scuppered in late 2010 due to government cutbacks.

The move would have saved 100,000 tonnes of CO2 and slashed tens of thousands off the council’s £1.8m bill for powering street lights.

A Kirklees Council spokeswoman, said: “The council manages the structural condition risks of its street lighting network because all street lighting columns will deteriorate as they age and are continually exposed to adverse weather.

“Streetlights are inspected to assess and monitor their structural condition.

“Those columns that are in the worst condition and present the most risk to the community are prioritised in the council’s street lighting improvement programme.

“Any which are identified during the inspections as being at immediate risk are cut down for safety reasons to prevent injury or damage to property.

“Whilst every effort is made to identify and deal with those street lighting columns most at risk, adverse weather and particularly strong winds are a problem for older street lighting columns.

“The approval of additional funding to deal with the deteriorating condition of street lights will enable the council to deal more quickly with this structural risk.”