Town in the dark over new street lights system

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News

Politicians are bombarding the DRD with complaints over a new street lighting system in Portadown.

Lord Mayor Darryn Causby, Aldermen Robert Smith and Arnold Hatch have all been in touch with various departments, passing on complaints from estates all over town.

The Mayor said, “We are receiving flak from just about every estate. I represent the Edgarstown area, and people are worried that the new lights are of the ‘spotlight’ variety, rather than defusing lights around the estates as was the case in the past.

“I have been in touch with high-ranking officials and they suggest that it’s a trial period, but I suspect it’s a money-saving exercise as the so-called LED system is cheaper to run. Some areas are plunged into virtual darkness and it needs a complete overhaul.”

Arnold Hatch – who has been scathing about the “poor quality of lighting in the town centre” -agreed that “if this is an experiment it isn’t working. Our office (UUP in Edenderry) has been inundated with complaints and we have written to the DRD, but so far with little satisfaction”.

Pensioner Kenny Best, who lives at Fitzroy Street, voiced the dissatisfaction of residents generally when he said, “The old lights were far superior. They spread the light widely, but these new ones are very restrictive – the sooner they are restored the better. Most residents feel that way. Especially on these dark nights, it’s difficult to see where you’re going between spotlights.”

And Alderman Smith, chairman of the Policing and Safety Community Partnership, quoted from a rash of Facebook comments he had received –

Charlene Watson – “It’s dreadful in Brownstown. On one side of the road there’s a little light, but the rest is in darkness. People are nervous while out walking.”

Richard Campbell – “This is bad. It’s like being on a stage with a spotlight shining down and the rest is darkness.”

Julie Hanna Matchett – “Around the park area, I fear for the elderly residents who are vulnerable and on their own. It’s causing great concern.”

Dionne Carlisle – “Donard Walk is in blackness. I have steps out of my front and I can hardly see them. It’s a downright disgrace – you wonder why people are being burgled.”

Mr Smith added, “Complaints have come from Corcrain, Rectory, Brownstown, North Street, Inglewood – all over the place. It’s very serious. I’ve raised it with the police and they’re concerned about it.”

A DRD response – “The lights in this area have been changed as part of Transport NI’s LED retrofit programme which is being managed from Transport NI headquarters. Complaints have been passed onto them.”

In regard to the town centre lights, a DRD statement said that they conformed to laid-down standards, to which Mr Hatch replied, “Perhaps they do at the moment thanks to the Christmas lights being switched on. But they are far inferior to the street lighting in Portadown prior to the major generation works about five years ago.”