Rural street lighting fix needed

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By a local government reporter

An Islay councillor compared Argyll and Bute rural street lighting to Africa’s gulf of Guinea as a debate lit up about street lighting.

Councillor Alastair Redman, speaking at the recent meeting of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, said: ‘A friend of mine in Ghana told me that their street lights, upon being reported, are fixed faster than in my council ward.

‘It isn’t as if we are paying third world council tax; we are paying first world council tax, so the slow pace in repairs has to be addressed.

‘Is it down to budget or manpower why there is such a slow turnaround with this?’

Mr Redman also complained that many rural areas of Argyll and Bute have lighting repairs carried out more slowly than towns such as Helensburgh.

He added: ‘It would be remiss of me not to point out the length of time it takes to get anything fixed.

‘Helensburgh is a very successful town, but it probably gets its lighting fixed straight away. I would like to see a tally of response times in my ward.’

Jim Smith, the council’s head of roads and amenity services, stated that some faulty street lights require more than the changing of a bulb.

And Councillor Ellen Morton disagreed with Mr Redman’s claim that Argyll and Bute’s towns receive preferential treatment.

Mr Smith said: ‘It is worth pointing out that over the last 18 months, we have replaced 14,000 lights across Argyll and Bute with our new street lighting system.

‘The network is now a lot more reliable than previously. What you have is a lot of cables which means the electricity is affected.

‘If there is a message that a street lighting column has a problem then by and large, we can fix it quickly. The time is much longer when you have to rely on a company to repair or replace a cable.’

And Councillor Morton said that the idea that towns are treated better than rural communities needed to be revisited.

She said: ‘I can assure Councillor Redman that Helensburgh is not the wonderland of lights he seems to imagine.

‘One area of my ward has had its lights out for 12 weeks. Nobody got in touch for the first three of those weeks so our officers did not know.

‘This was a complicated fault, not just involving the lights; it involved the power as well.

‘It is a very complex situation and I know officers are dealing with it.

‘Polarising communities is not the way forward as it is not helpful to running a balanced administration.’