Streelights remain cause for concern in Northumberland

Streetlights in Northumberland.
Streetlights in Northumberland.

Streetlights continue to be a real source of frustration in Northumberland, a council meeting has heard.

Councillors from all four corners of the county, representing urban and rural wards, reported issues at a meeting of the county council’s communities and place committee.

Not only were there a number of problems with the lights themselves, but members said there was often no response from the council when faults were reported.

The issue was discussed as the committee gave its input into a revision of the council’s Transport Asset Management Plan (TAMP), which was last updated in November 2015.

Its sets out how the road network and associated infrastructure are managed and maintained by the local authority.

The rather grand overarching aim of the TAMP is: ‘To provide a fully integrated, safe, reliable, resilient and sustainable network of transport assets, recognising the need to cater for all modes of transportation in a modern and dynamic society without acting to the detriment of future users.’

The rest of the TAMP is based around four key themes – safety, serviceability, sustainability and customer service – and eight asset groups.

These are roads; structures, such as bridges; footpaths and cycleways; lighting; drainage; safety barriers and fences etc; signs and road markings etc;  and soft landscaping like verges.

Performance is measured in terms of level of service, eg, how often does a gully block and flood, and service delivery standards, eg, how frequently does the council clean the gullies.

The committee agreed to add a line to the streetlights section to ‘improve response rates’.

Councillors also felt that communication could be improved on some of the other issues and asked if information on road maintenance being carried out or gullies being cleaned, for example, could be reported to the five local area council meetings to keep people informed.

A major streetlight modernisation programme for the county is taking place, with the aim of converting around 47,000 streetlights to more energy-efficient LED lamps and replacing around 16,000 lighting columns.

All work was originally due to be completed by spring this year, but the project was temporarily halted last October after Galliford Try’s main sub-contractor for electrical and civil engineering works went into administration.

A revised timetable was drawn up in December for the remainder of the works when a new sub-contractor came on board, with this summer the hoped-for completion date.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service