The deputy leader of Derbyshire’s Conservative Group has accused the county council of ‘plunging the county into darkness’ over its failure to repair broken street lights.
In Chesterfield and north-east Derbyshire there are 546 outstanding street light faults and Councillor Simon Spencer blames a decision by the county council to replace old-style orange sodium lights with longer-lasting LED lights.
He said: “There is a massive backlog of broken street lights plunging local communities into darkness and when residents report the problem they are being told it will be months before the lamps are repaired. It’s just not good enough.”
Councillor Spencer said a nine-month delay in appointing contractors and a policy of not maintaining existing lights was causing a serious problem.
“The Council is focusing almost all its resources on its LED replacement programme, leaving just a handful of staff to repair broken lights,” said Coun Spencer.
“Not only is it unfair and inefficient, it is putting local communities, drivers and pedestrians in danger.”
Councillor Dean Collins, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, said: “Huge Government cuts have meant we have been forced to change the way we maintain street lights and far from the dark ages we are embracing the 21st century way of doing things.
“Previously we would have changed all the lights in one area every three or four years before they started to go out in large numbers but reduced budgets mean we only have a small team of electricians and we can no longer afford to provide routine maintenance.
“Unfortunately this has resulted in a backlog of broken lights which our in-house team is working hard to fix or replace with LED lights, targeting the oldest faults first.”
Coun Collins said the council was now investing £23m countywide in a three-year programme to replace more than 68,000 current orange sodium lights with LED lights and was replacing more than 22,000 older lamp posts.
In the most recent phase of works contractors are replacing around 5,500 lights in North East Derbyshire and the Chesterfield area, while 2,500 lights were being upgraded in Killamarsh and Eckington.