Longford County Council may be forced into turning street lights off from midnight due to escalating public lighting energy costs.
Details of the possible measures currently being considered by cashstrapped local authority chiefs were disclosed to councillors this week in a report illustrating Longford County Council’s present day energy cost demands.
The two page summary aimed at revealing advances made concerning public lighting issues in Longford town housing estate, ‘The Demesne’ revealed that Longford County Council has spent over €800,000 on public lighting costs in the last three years alone.
In 2010, the local authority paid out €234,000 with a further €266,730 being handed out in 2011. Last year however, council executives saw those charges break the €300,000 for the first time, courtesy of a €304,600 total outlay.
In a bid to counteract the hefty rise, the council conceded in its progress report that “due consideration” may have to be given to “expanding the policy of turning lights off at midnight”.
Part of the recommendations, Director of Services Jack Kilgallon explained was largely down to guidelines set aside in the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2009-2020.
To meet the requirements of the plan, Longford County Council is presently looking at ways to introduce energy efficient methods by upgrading its current stock with LED lighting.
Some of those measures have since been rolled out in estates such as The Demesne, leading to increased concerns among local residents about the level of lighting now in place.
“Children are now brought in before it gets dark,” said Cllr Sexton at last week’s council meeting. “It’s that bad children who were out playing during the first week had to use flashlamps.
“Over my dead body will lights be turned off after 12am,” she snapped. “Where in the name of almighty God are we going turning lights off in the town? Just because we are trying to reach a 2020 decision that was made by someone. I am making no apologies at all because that policy will have to be scrubbed.”
Fine Gael’s Peggy Nolan said she also had grave concerns and in an estate that has seen four burglaries being reported since improvement works were carried out before Christmas.
“Never before has that (number of burglaries) happened. It’s unacceptable at the moment and people are not happy,” she said.
To curb some of those anxieties, a survey has since recommended the replacement of four lights with substantially more powerful bulbs.
On the topic of turning off lights at midnight in estates up and down the county, council bosses stopped short of confirming whether such a prospect was likely.
“The situation with regard to public lighting and the impact of cost and taking in charge of additional estates is being monitored on an ongoing basis,” a council statement read. “Options are regularly considered by the Council in managing this increasingly onerous situation.”