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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Mail probe sheds light on true state of defective Barrow streetlights

THE extent of Cumbria’s faulty streetlight problem and its cost to the public purse has been revealed.

amc BRENDAN SWEENEY1 lc
CLLR BRENDAN SWEENEY

The Evening Mail submitted a freedom of information request after councillors told a meeting earlier this year there were a growing number of defective streetlights in Barrow.

Cumbria County Council was unable to provide figures at the time, but has now disclosed the information in the FOI. As of March 24 when the council received the request, 1,920 of the county’s 44,370 lights were not working and had been out for an average of 4.89 days.

In Barrow, 139 of the 7,622 lights were not working and had been out for an average of 2.94 days. The cost of repairs in 2013 was £1.265m across the county and £264,000 in Barrow. The Barrow streetlight not working for the longest period was in Sowerby Avenue. It had been out since September 10.

Councillor Brendan Sweeney, Barrow Borough Council deputy leader, questioned some of the details. He has been keenly monitoring the situation after Walney Promenade was left in darkness at night when severe flooding damaged the streetlights.

Cllr Sweeney, part of the Barrow highways advisory sub-group, said: “Generally, the service is very good. You phone them in and within a day or two they’re fixed. But the idea that we haven’t got some that have been faulty for longer than six months just doesn’t fit with my experience of it.

“To my knowledge, there are lights around Schneider Square that have been out for years. Where there are older ones, I’d appeal for the public to make sure they get them phoned in on 0845 609609 or use the website so the council can pinpoint exactly where they are.”

A county council spokesman said the authority recognised “major investment is needed to improve the street lighting in Cumbria”. He said that prompted a decision in February to invest £7.6m in improvements to replace old high-energy bulbs with more efficient and effective LED systems and improve the reliability of street lights.

He said: “The roll-out of this three-year improvement programme will begin later this summer and the public will be able to see a noticeable improvement in quality and reliability over the next three years as the council makes this major investment.

“On May 15, cabinet also agreed a new street lighting policy which gives the council the flexibility to remove street lights that have come to the end of their working life from locations where communities tell us they’re not needed any more.”

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