On all day or off all night… call for end to Exeter street lighting ‘fiasco’
EXETER’S switch over to part-night lighting has been described as a “fiasco” by councillors who are calling for the scheme to be halted.
Devon County Council’s scheme to switch off street lights between midnight and 5.30am has been rolled out across the whole of West Exe, with the rest of the city set to follow. But some street lights have since been on all day, and some lights which should be on at night for safety reasons have remained off.
The lights are controlled by a £1.7m computer and the county council has admitted there have been ‘issues’ but says that these are being resolved.
Rob Hannaford, county councillor for St Thomas and Exwick said: “Over several months I have received complaints from angry residents about street lights being left on all the time. “Some of the worst areas are around Redhills, Buddle Lane, Farm Hill, Queens Road, Gloucester Road and Cowick Street. Most people were not on balance in favour of the switch-off, however now they are furious about the waste of money these faults are causing.
“It’s now a long-running shambles that’s become a fiasco, especially when it’s all about cuts to front-line services at County Hall.”
Cowick city councillor Paul Bull is calling for the programme to switch the rest of the city over to be halted until the problems are resolved.
Cllr Bull believes the problem has been caused because the county council has been ‘skimping’ and not enough control modules have been put in to allow signals to be picked up from the central computer.
He said: “My guess is that they are skimping, trying to save money but then the lights are staying on all the time. We need to make sure we have a secure and robust system before the rest of the city is changed over.”
City council leader Pete Edwards added: “They should put all the lights back on through the night until they get this problem sorted out. The system isn’t working in West Exe so how can they expect it to work in the rest of the city?”
Roy Hill, county councillor for Alphington and Cowick agreed, said: “All these problems should mean that the county council puts a complete halt to the switch off until they have worked with the manufacturers to iron them out. Also if the city’s topography is challenging for the new system why was this not investigated and trialled before the new kit was installed?
“We will be calling for a special meeting to discuss where we are with this as soon as possible.”
A spokesman for the county council said: “Each area controller uses radio waves to control a maximum of about 250 lights over a 1km radius, but communications can be affected by the local building landscape.
“Initial mapping provided by the suppliers has, in general, worked well for the six wards that have had the remote monitoring equipment installed.
“As this is new technology there are occasions where issues arise but adjustments are being made to achieve complete coverage. In this instance an additional branch is being installed in Okehampton Street; a number of lights will be assigned to it and the issue of day-burners should be resolved.
“A similar situation occurred in part of Exwick and an additional branch was installed on Exwick Road with positive results.”
The switch over in Duryard and Pennsylvania is more or less complete, St James’ has started and St David’s will start during October.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Highway Management said: “There was consultation with the public, the Police and councillors when proposals for part night operation of street lighting were being put together. This enabled us to develop a balanced set of proposals with some busy areas, agreed walking home routes and the main through roads and junctions in Exeter remaining lit all night. We have always said that once installed, schemes could be reviewed with the Police based on feedback on any issues experienced.”