Lights out : Politicians row over Northside street lighting

Two north east ward councillors have started a war of words over street lighting.

Thursday, 23 May 2013
2:00 AM GMT

Worker’s Party Cllr Ted Tynan has lashed out at his constituency rival, Cllr Joe Kavanagh of Fine Gael, for putting in motions to Cork City Council to ensure the provision of lighting on the Old Youghal road.

“Cllr Kavanagh is a member of the ruling Government party of Fine Gael and a member of the pact that has continued to restrict spending over the last five years,” said Mr Tynan.

“Yet he continues to put in motions on lighting for the north east ward, which is a bit hypocritical to me. The City Manager’s hands have now been tied by the cuts imposed on him. City Council no longer have control over the lights, which is now with a private contractor (Airtricity) which does not have a social contract with the community at all.”

Mr Tynan accepted that the issue of street lighting was one for the whole city, but highlighted the Old Youghal Road area, which has currently nine lights gone.

“It’s like walking down a country road, it’s so dangerous,” said Mr Tynan.

“Because of the budgets of Fine Gael and Labour, elderly people are in danger when when walking a road that you have to use your headlights when driving on. This is putting children at risk also, and I think the chickens have come home to roost on the budget policies of these parties.”

Cllr Joe Kavanagh dismissed Mr Tynan’s comments, and said that the Workers' Party representative had never backed any budget, and “will protest against absolutely everything.”

“My objections to the street lighting was that we paid for bicycle stands to be installed all over the city at a time when street lighting is of paramount importance. The reason those lights on the Old Youghal Road were replaced was because of internal corrosion on the brackets.”

Mr Kavanagh strongly rejected Mr Tynan’s claims of hypocrisy saying that his “negative accusations are totally nonsensical.”

“At the end of the day he is not going to change,” said Mr Kavanagh, who also stressed that Cork City Council is exploring different funding avenues to replace the lights.

“I’m not going to stand and talk about the Fine Gael party, my priority is to look after the local area that I represent.”

Replacement funds

A written reply to the Old Youghal Road area of lighting from the City Manager showed that the overhead brackets fell “due to severe weather recently and its power cable. The lantern and bracket had collapsed due to structural failure as a result of corrosion.”

“Cork City Council does not have any funding available for the provision of replacement of lighting on major urban routes. However the Transportation Division put forward the replacement of lighting on various routes such as the Douglas Cycle Route, UCC to City Centre and the Old Youghal Road to be considered by the NTA for funding as a measure which would support sustainable travel. The Transportation Division has emphasised the need to incorporate the upgrading of route lighting as a priority, to address both the physical state of the asset and the provision of lighting to a standard that would protect vulnerable road users.”

Airticity maintains and operates 15,000 street lights across Cork City on behalf of Cork City Council.

"Each year, the company repairs or replaces around 3,000 lights, or 20%, of the city’s lighting stock to ensure Cork City continues to enjoy high quality public lighting,” said a company spokesperson.

"During the darker winter months we also conduct night-time patrols of every single street and road in Cork City every three weeks to monitor for any lights that are faulty so that we can ensure that they are repaired as quickly as possible."

The lights will be fixed "as soon as possible", once the city council can pay Airtricity.

"Our first commitment is to ensure the lights we maintain on behalf of communities are safe and reliable, but we also provide real, practical support which we hope will bring lasting benefit to communities in a number of ways."

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