Red-tape holds up repairs to public street lighting

Hundreds of householders in vast swathes of suburban Cork are still in the dark despite the clearing of a bureaucratic logjam linked to street light repairs.

Red-tape holds up repairs to public street lighting

City officials confirmed that repair crews from Airtricity Utility Solutions (AUS) have begun repairing dozens of street lights which, in some cases, were out of action for almost two weeks.

But some repairs haven’t worked after a complication with wiring arose, and several estates are still waiting for repairs almost a week after the issue was raised by public representatives.

City councillors said it is one of the biggest issues on the doorsteps as they ramp up campaigning for the local elections.

Cllr Mick Finn (Ind) said it was just not good enough that public lighting was out, for a long period, in large areas of Ballyphehane and Turner’s Cross.

“While I was told that it would be remedied by the weekend, it has proven dangerous for people at home, out walking, and even driving,” he said.

“I will be asking the council to question the service delivery contract.”

Barry Keane, a candidate for Fine Gael in the local elections, said elderly people in Turner’s Cross were afraid to go out at night because they did not feel safe on the pitch-black streets.

“I contacted Airtricity via their website on March 3 to report an outage,” he said.

“It was to take 10 business days according to their website. This passed on 18 March.

“I logged back into Airtricity to track my complaint to find nothing had ever been done about it.”

City officials explained that the delay in repairs was due to a delay in the reissuing, to AUS network technicians, of special permits which expired the week before last.

The updated permits for four individual technicians have now been issued, clearing the way for them to begin the repair work.

A spokesman for Cork City Council explained that the delay is linked to the transfer of ownership of the lantern part of almost 14,000 street lights from ESB Networks to the city in 2009 and 2010.

While ESB Networks owns the transmission network and the street poles, the city council took over responsibility for the lanterns, brackets, and an interlock interface, which connects the light to the pole.

The council pays €50,000 a month to AUS to maintain the 14,000 lanterns, about half of which are located close to ESB power cables.

Under the terms of a complex contract between the city and ESB Networks, repairs crews must have a special permit to climb the poles and to work in close proximity to the power lines.

The spokesman said the delay in reissuing up-to-date permits was caused by an extensive legal review by the city’s law office of the terms of contract.

Most of the out-of-order lights are older lanterns, which are governed by a single switch which turns on dozens of lights at the same time.

Most of the single faults are on newer lights that are controlled individually by a photocell which triggers the power as darkness falls.

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