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LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Backlog in lamp repairs raises concerns over public safety.

AN estimated 300 street lights are currently out across Strabane, it can be revealed, as renewed concerns have been voiced that the backlog in repair could have have implications for public safety.

Local independent councillor, Patsy Kelly, claims that the delay in fixing the outages could lead to accidents.

He says he has been inundated with complaints from constituents about street lights not working right across the district, however despite reporting the faults in recent weeks, he says many have still not been fixed.

For its part, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) confirmed that "an estimated 300" lamps are out across the district adding that whilst its funding is "extremely limited", it is working towards repairing them all.

The matter was also due to be raised by councillors at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council yesterday evening (Tuesday) when transport officials from the Western Division of DfI presented their autumn report.

"The volume of street lights out across the district is alarming. There seems to be more and more going out but not many getting fixed," Patsy Kelly said.

"I'm doing my best trying to report those that are out to the relevant authority but I'm concerned about Road Service's budget and whether there's enough money in the pot to facilitate these repairs.

"Local streets are being left in the dark and it's a hazard for local people and indeed motorists. It's more worrying now for people especially coming into the winter." Cllr Kelly said the problem is being exacerbated by the lack of an NI Executive or minister in place.

"We need the Executive up and running to put money into the infrastructure pot for these repairs. It's not just Strabane town, but Castlederg, Sion Mills, Donemana and all the rural areas that are affected.

"There are lights out on streets right across the district. It is a matter of public concern.

"Some are out on bad corners and junctions where there could be an accident.

Residential areas are also affected. We need to know from Transport NI what their strategy is going forward and how they intend on solving the issue." Responding to the concerns, a DfI spokesperson said: "It is the department's intention to repair all street light outages and while funding is extremely limited, it is hoped that this service can continue until the end of the financial year.

"It is estimated that there are currently around 300 outages in the wider Strabane area.

"Works orders have been forwarded to our contractor and it is expected that repairs will be carried out within a matter of weeks." The spokesperson added that it should be noted that the department currently carries out a "limited inspection service" and that the public can assist by reporting faults on the NI Direct website.

They are encouraged to go to the 'street lighting' section and 'report a fault'.

"Callers can also report street lighting faults by telephone to 0300 200 7899," the spokesperson added.

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