Energy-saving public lighting, which are seven times more efficient than the current lighting, is proving controversial among residents who have complained that the white lighting is not bright enough. The council, in response, said they simply can’t afford to fund the current lighting system.
Cllr Mae Sexton, who raised the issue at an in-committee meeting and a previous meeting of Longford Town Council, asked that the programme would be stopped on foot of what happened in the Demesne, where the lighting was recently erected. She said that having written to residents in the area, she received a reply from the council that the residents were not happy with.
Cllr Peggy Nolan also queried the new initiative of installing white lights in areas, which was also installed in College Park.
“It has happened in two areas of the town. I’d like to know how many other counties are embracing this because it isn’t working, it’s causing great distress and I would be proposing that we have a meeting with the tenants of the two areas of the town that have these lights imposed on them without any consultation.
“They’re like a candle in the wind,” she added. “If every third house had a candle in their garden, on a stand, they would get more light.”
Cllr Nolan agreed that it was important to be energy efficient, but said described what has happened in her areas as “a retrograde step and I’m totally opposed to it”.
Cllr PJ Reilly agreed with Cllr Nolan. “We got four of them in Abbeylara; they’re not just sufficient and very low based. As one woman commented to me on them, ‘they’re like something you put in the garden for solar lighting’,” said Cllr Reilly.
Cllr Frank Kilbride said they looked like they are put up temporarily for Christmas. He said they shouldn’t be erected anywhere else in the county.
In response to the queries and points made, Jack Kilgallen, director for services for housing and planning said, “The council can’t afford to continue into the future funding for the public lighting that’s there and that’s coming on stream from the takeover of estates. That’s going to be a major issue.
“When we’re upgrading the lighting in estates, our approach has been to apply to Sustainable Energy Ireland for a grant. We get the grants on the condition that the public lighting is installed to what they deem to be modern day standards and security.
“The LED lighting is different the old incandescent type lighting that we’re all used to. It’s highly efficient. It’s six or seven times more efficient that the old style lighting. The lights last much, much longer; I think you can get 55,000 hours out of a light unit.”
Mr Kilgallen said that it’s not just unique to Longford, but that it is being used worldwide. He acknowledge that people aren’t happy with it, and said they won’t being doing any more until they resolve the problem. He said they’ll also meet with College Park and Demesne residents early in the new year.
He added that there’s a council committee carrying out a survey of the public lighting situation in estates across the county, in particular the lights that were erected unnecessarily.
In response, Cllr Mae Sexton said, “I wonder now, given what you have said, were we better if we never looked for an upgrading of the lights, because if we hadn’t we wouldn’t have found ourselves in the mess that we’re in now. It’s opening up a whole new Pandora’s Box in relation to our ability to continue to pay for lighting in estates and we need to discuss that at a wider depth.”
It’s an issue that’s expected to be discussed further at the council’s January meeting.