Weymouth’s £200,000 seafront lights scheme could be up and running by next Easter – although it is uncertain who will then be paying to maintain and operate them.

A recommendation to go ahead with the lights at the borough management committee this Tuesday says only that they will be controlled by “a local authority” – either the new unitary Dorset Council or the new Weymouth Town Council.

A report to councillors suggests that if the lights are not agreed to there could be “reputational and financial implications for the council” including having to pay back £42,500 in fees already spent – plus the loss of £157,500 via the Dorset Coastal Forum which would then have to be returned to the Government.

Councillors are being recommended to approve the scheme designed by Tonkin Liu which features programmable light columns on existing street light posts – despite negative comments both in letters to the Echo and on social media.

A suggestion for alternative, more traditional, catenary lighting is rejected in the report with officers claiming it would need an extra 130 columns to be added to the seafront – making the area look more cluttered and cost three to five times the amount of available grant funding.

More than 2,000 people took part in a public consultation over the new lights and the council admits that there was a range of opinions expressed: “The overall response to the project was mixed, with a number of participants (including some of those who had previously wanted catenary lighting) giving positive feedback of the new design.

"The design is bold, innovative and unique, so it is to be expected that a mix of opinions should be received when it is first presented to the community,” said a report on the consultation.

If the committee, and subsequent full council meeting, approve the lights, a planning application could be submitted this month with a supplier appointed in December, starting work in January 2019, with the project to be completed by March 2019.

The cost of maintenance and running the lights over their expected 20-year lifespan has been estimated at £56,500.