Alderman Devenney stated that he wished to raise an issue regarding public lighting. He stated that whilst the proposed upgrade to street lighting by the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) was welcomed, there were concerns regarding the removal of street lighting from a laneway in the Claudy area which had the potential to attract anti-social behaviour. He queried if the reduction in street lights was planned for the entire Council area. He proposed that Council write to the Department for Infrastructure asking for clarification on the matter as it was important that street lights remained in areas such as alleyways.
Alderman M Hamilton concurred with the remarks made by the previous speaker. She then referred to the Council owned car park in Claudy where the lighting needed repaired as a matter of urgency.
Councillor Hastings referred to the Special Meeting of the Environment and Regeneration Committee held on 21 November 2018 where DfI had provided Members with information regarding the upgrade to street lighting. He stated that Members had expressed concern regarding the impact of removing street lights from alleyways and in response the DfI stated that it was departmental policy. He stated that the DfI had said it was not their responsibility to light alleyways. He stated that the matter needed to be addressed urgently as the lack of lighting in alleyways was having a detrimental effect on those residing in those areas. He proposed that DfI be invited to provide an update to Members on the matter.
Councillor Donnelly concurred with the remarks made by the previous speakers. He referred to the Glenowen area of the City were lighting had been removed adjacent to a flight of steps. He stated that this had resulted in young people congregating in the area and that a resident had also tripped on the steps due to the removal of adequate lighting.
Councillor O’Reilly stated that he had been contacted by residents regarding the removal of street lights which had also attracted anti-social behaviour. He asked that a report and map be made available to show the areas were lighting had been removed throughout the City and District before the meeting with DfI.
Councillor R McHugh concurred with the comments made by the previous speakers. He stated that correspondence had been sent to DfI regarding a similar issue in Castlederg last year. He stated that he was not hopeful of a successful outcome as Roads Service had been emphatic that they were concentrating on supplying lighting at carriageways and did not have sufficient funding for other projects.
Councillor Jackson stated that he had highlighted this issue at the Special Meeting and that DfI had advised that their policy stated that they were not required to supply lighting to secondary routes. He further stated that he made a proposal at that time for a community consultation regarding the removal of street lighting and that DfI had also advised that due to departmental policy a public consultation would not be carried out in this regard. He stated that he would be making a further request for a public consultation and for DfI to review its’ policy.
Alderman McClintock concurred that it was a very important issue that needed to be addressed. She stated that a similar issue had been raised two years ago and unfortunately the only solution at that time whilst during her tenure as Mayor, was for Council officers to assist by installing sensor lighting for an elderly gentleman. She emphasised the importance of the matter being addressed as it was not the responsibility of Council.
Councillor Gallagher referred to comments made by Councillor R McHugh and stated it would be better to write to all Party Leaders, particularly to those who had supported the Good Friday Agreement and the Fresh Start Agreement to review their policy on budget cuts.
Councillor P Kelly requested a report on the number of lights still waiting to be repaired throughout the City and District.
Alderman Devenney thanked Members for their support on the matter. He stated that the reduction in street lighting had affected many residents throughout the Council area. He suggested that it may be useful to also invite the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to the Special Meeting.
Alderman Hussey supported the call for the meeting and added that he welcomed Councillor Gallagher’s support of the Belfast Agreement. He referred to the remarks made by Alderman M Hamilton and noted a problem with the wiring system to the lights at the car park and requested that officers investigate the matter.
Councillor Tierney stated that he concurred with the remarks made by Councillor Jackson. He then referred to Alderman McClintock’s comments and stated that similar issues had been raised in the Ballyarnett area of the City were lighting had been removed from back alleyways which had caused some distress to the residents of that area. He stated that PCSP and Teamworks had assisted by installing sensor lights to enable those residents to have a sense of security. He queried when DfI were scheduled to provide their annual update to Members.
In response, the Director of Environment and Regeneration stated that DfI usually provided an update to Members in March. However, she stated that a request could be made for the meeting be brought forward if Members so wished.
Councillor Logue referred to Councillor Gallagher’s proposal to write to the Party Leaders. She stated that it was the Conservative Government who were responsible for budget cuts and who have continually demolished the block grant from the Treasury which has had a detrimental effect on Departmental budgets.
Alderman Devenney Proposed, Seconded by Councillor Hastings
That Council write to the Department for Infrastructure to invite them to attend a special meeting to update Members on the reduction in street lighting in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.
Members agreed unanimously and Council
Resolved That Council write to the Department for Infrastructure to invite them to attend a special meeting to update Members on the reduction in street lights in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.