Lighting woes not helping crime fight

LED Lighting. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Longford’s burglary and overall crime rate is likely to rise unless council bosses address ongoing lighting issues in and around the county town.

Longford’s burglary and overall crime rate is likely to rise unless council bosses address ongoing lighting issues in and around the county town.

That was the warning given by some councillors this week as the issue of energy-saving public or ‘LED’ lighting reared its head once more.

Elected members re-opened the debate at last week’s meeting of Longford Town Council’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) after a number questioned whether a report into the controversy was being prepared.

As reported on previous occasions by this newspaper, residents from both the College Park and Demesne estates in Longford town have registered their anxieties over the new lights.

Local representatives too, like Cllr Peggy Nolan, have been just as vocal about a policy which has divided opinion locally.

“The Demesne is a grey area because of the lighting that’s now there and it’s ripe for burglaries and vandalism,” said Cllr Peggy Nolan.

“If it (changes over to LED lighting) in other estates in the town, I think we are leaving the town open. Yes, we have to curtail our carbon footprint, but not at the cost of leaving people living in fear.”

Question marks were likewise raised about an internal memo from Longford County Council’s infrastructure section which appeared to indicate Garda chiefs had given their support to the new lighting.

Longford Superintendent Denis Shields was however quick to deny those suggestions, claiming he had received no letters or correspondence about LED lighting in recent months.

It was an assurance that drew a disgruntled response from Cllr Mae Sexton.

“I don’t care what any engineer tells me anymore,” she snapped.

“In relation to flooding out at Flancare, I was told to mind my own business and now this (installation of LED lights) was done without any consultation whatsoever.”

Cllr Paul Connell, another local representative, asked whether the lights were fitted to suit national or European standard requirements.

Earlier this year, the Leader published details of Longford County Council’s public lighting costs surpassing €800,000 over the last three years alone.

In February, we disclosed how those costs had led to “due consideration” being given to “expanding the policy of turning lights off at midnight”.

Seven month on, that prospect and lingering debate is showing little sign of abating any time soon.