Derry in the dark with ‘no money’ to fix 1,900 street lights.

Lights out... there are now almost 2,000 street lights out across Derry.
Lights out... there are now almost 2,000 street lights out across Derry.

There are now a staggering 1,900 street lamps out in Derry, government officials have revealed.

This accounts for 9% of the 21,000 lights installed across the city.

The staggering level of broken lights facing residents in estates right across the city was laid bare at the December meeting of the Regional Services Committee on Tuesday.

TransportNI’s Divisional Manager for the West Conor Loughrey said that their “hands were tied” after a succession of local councillors expressed outrage that there was no money to fix the problem.

Various councillors warned that elderly people in particular were being left feeling scared and vulnerable as cul-de-sacs and avenues were left in darkness.

Mr Loughrey said however that because of budget cutbacks within the Department for Regional Development, there was no funding to pay for works normally tendered out to external contractors.

He said that street lighting was “the most obvious area suffering at present” as a result of this.

The Mayor Of Derry, SDLP Councillor Brenda Stevenson said this was simply not good enough.

Speaking about the lights issue and the lack of significant progress on a raft of other road developments and issues, she said:

“It is like groundhog day to listen to the report- no street lighting, winter gritting, A5, A6, it is like a scene out of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Past, so it is.

“It is unbelievable we are sitting in 2014 and we are not getting lights fixed.”

Mr Loughrey later told the councillors: “I find myself agreeing with quite a lot of what you are saying, particularly with regards to street lighting. We in our office are inundated with calls.

“We have to accept, and we do, that people will feel more vulnerable.”

He added however that the difficulty was that they had to deal with their budgets and lack thereof.

“As it sits at the minute we don’t have the budget for it,” he said.