‘7909 lights out and we’ve the longest to wait for repair’ – Newry MLA

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info@newrytimes.com
Monday, December 19th, 2016
Community, Politics
street-lightSDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has demanded further action after it was revealed that 7,909 street lights are broken across the north and it takes the longest time to repair them in the Southern Division. The information was released to McNulty through an Assembly Question to the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard. Speaking to Newry Times, McNulty said, “On a daily basis I am being contacted by residents complaining that street lights are broken in their area and despite making numerous calls about the problem it takes a long time for them to be fixed. “People are fed up with the constant delays and excuses. For many elderly residents it is causing genuine fear for them in their homes. Last year the Regional Development Minister halted the use of outside contractors to repair street lights and a huge backlog was created. Article continues below: 2nd-dec-2016-big-box“In the seven months from April to November the Department of Infrastructure repaired 21,001 street lights, but as of 25th November 7,909 lights were broken and were yet to be repaired. At that rate of going, it will take months to clear the backlog,” he insisted. “What is even more concerning but is hardly surprising is the fact that the Minister has admitted that the Southern Division, which includes this area, has the longest waiting time for repairs. Their figures show that it takes on average 17 working days or almost four weeks, however in reality it is much worse than this. “I can point to individual cases in Armagh, Bessbrook, Camlough, Crossmaglen, Keady, Milford, Newtownhamilton and all over Newry where lights have been out for months and have yet to be repaired. “This is a damming indictment of the leadership in the department, it is no fault of the operational staff on the ground for they have been starved of resources and manpower and this is the result.
Article continues below:
30th-nov-2016-small-box“I don’t believe it’s just a coincidence that since I began raising questions around the delays locally, the Minister has announced two additional electricians to help clear the backlog in this area. This is a welcome development but cannot be a short term fix, this needs to be a permanent appointment and needs to be added to. McNulty added, “There needs to be a more strategic approach to maintenance and repairs. The current approach is too reactionary and too dependent on the department bidding for in-year monies to fix an all year round problem.”

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