SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H Durkan, has told the Derry Journal that he is ‘furious’ after a recent Executive meeting where he claims Sinn Fein and the DUP failed to support a bid to allocate funds to the Department for Regional Development Minister for street lighting and winter services.
Mr. Durkan said his Strand Road office in Derry had been “inundated” with complaints from constituents about issues surrounding street lighting.
“My office is inundated on a daily basis with angry and frustrated residents who are unable to get broken street lighting fixed. While, I have raised the issue directly with the Roads Minister, after this week’s Executive meeting I cannot lay all the blame at his door. I am furious that when the Transport Minister bid for funding for street light maintenance and winter services, I was the only Minister to support him,” said Mr. Durkan angrily.
“Maybe Sinn Fein and the DUP are not in touch with the reality on the ground, but more than ever, the people in our local community are in the dark, literally,” he added.
Mr. Durkan went on to argue why he regarded street lighting as a priority and said until the matter is resolved he will continue to fear for peoples’ safety.
“While, some may not see these services as a priority, I completely disagree, as residents currently without lighting are fearful of safety concerns for the elderly, the disabled and children playing in the street.
“This week, I have been assisting residents in the Buncrana Road area, who have been told that a cable fault cannot be fixed anytime soon due to budgetary pressures. Last year the same area was victim to a number of burglaries, without adequate lighting, the area is now more than ever more vulnerable.
“With weather warnings dominating our airwaves this week, I am concerned that the lack of adequate funding awarded to DRD for winter services will mean Transport NI does not have the capacity to deliver its winter service programme. If we had a bad winter this year, how much confidence can the public have in TransportNI if we can’t even get our lights fixed? This is deeply troubling especially when in the not so distant past Roads Service ran out of salt!
“We must immediately address any shortfall in the budget in order to ensure the public are safe in their homes and on the roads over the winter period. Rate payers are angry and rightly so,” he added.