Despite ending their contract with Airtricity in December, Athlone Town Council has moved to reassure members of the public that any public lighting which is not working will be fixed as soon as possible. Repairs to lighting are currently being undertaken on “an ad hoc basis” by local contractors, it emerged this week.
Councillors expressed concern that the maintenance of public lighting is not being undertaken to an acceptable standard.
“Several areas need urgent attention...I am concerned at this response. One light at Talbot Avenue is out for weeks and there are lights out at Court Devenish and Beech Park West,” said Cllr Shaw.
Cllr Paul Hogan pointed out other areas where lighting is out including Bonavalley, Woodville, Baylough, and the Old Batteries.
“There could be 30 odd lights gone in Athlone. If there are a number of local people with responsibility of maintaining the service on an ad hoc basis, have we people to ensure lights are working?”
Director of services Barry Kehoe confirmed that cost was the main factor in the decision by both Athlone Town Council and Westmeath County Council to terminate contracts with Airtricity.
“We estimate the county could save €100,000 this year by cutting this contract and handing the maintenance over to local contractors. We hope to have a contract in place before the end of the year.”
However he was disappointed that lights had been out for several weeks without being serviced.
“We have an engineer working full-time on public lighting and are working to put another contract in place. We are getting a grip on it; I would ask you to let the town engineer know of lights that are out,” he said.
“It will be worth it. We will put in low energy lighting, we have costs we have to get on top of,” he added.
Cllr Mark Cooney requested that an update to be provided to councillors at next month’s council meeting.