A housing estate in Ballymahon has been left without street lighting for five months now, leading residents to fear for their safety.
The lights at Dunaras on the Ballymulvey Road were disconnected in June due to the non-payment of a bill.
Though they first focused on other issues, including maintenance of green areas and the flooding at the entrance to the estate, the lack of lighting quickly became a problem, particularly after a number of break-ins and attempted burglaries in the area.
Forming a Residents’ Association, the group got in touch with Longford County Council to seek advice and assistance, citing that it “has been and continues to be a source of increasing anger and distress to the residents and cannot continue”.
Annamaria Walsh, Secretary of the association, explained that they had been advised to put the money together to pay the outstanding bill themselves while they wait for a more favourable outcome. However, upon contacting the Citizen’s Advice Centre, who were a “great help” to the group, they were instructed that they should not have to pay the sum, and that paying might make the issue less urgent.
“We’re not sure what we can do,” Annamaria added, before explaining that not only could the darkness encourage anti-social behaviour, but it could also prove a health hazard for people coming in and out of the estate.
“The Parish Priest is living in the estate,” Annamaria explained, “and he holds Parish meetings, to which maybe five or six people come. That’s an accident waiting to happen,” she continued. “It’s quite stressful.
“When I come home from work, some part of me thinks the lights will be back on.
“We all pay property tax on our houses, and at the very least you would expect that money to go on street lighting.”
Eager for a solution to the problem, Annamaria concluded by saying, “we don’t want to see Christmas in with no lights.”
The Ballymahon Community Alert Group also weighed in on the issue in a letter written following a quarterly meeting at the end of October.
Citing the lack of public lighting as “a mockery of our functions in relation to any service we might provide to the tenants resident in this area”, the group called on the County Council to take action.
“We are now calling on Longford County Council to remedy this situation imediately and not subject the householders in this estate to a winter of worry and apprehension.”
In a statement to the Leader, Longford County Council revealed that they are communicating with the bondholder in an attempt to agree a complete Site Resolution Plan for all works required on the estate.
“The bond provider has recently indicated to us that they are in the process of attempting to have the public lighting issues addressed as a priority,” a spokesperson added.