Mullingar’s townspeople are so frustrated with the delay in fixing public lights in the town, that one man has fixed one himself!
That’s according to councillor Ken Glynn, who said the council must revisit the procedure for repairing public lighting in a timely manner.
Speaking at Tuesday’s March meeting of Mullingar Town Council Cllr Glynn said he would not give details of the man who fixed the light, but will tell the council which light was repaired by a private citizen who had been waiting weeks for the council’s lighting contractor to take action.
Town manager Declan Leonard said that for health and safety reasons, he would not advocate anyone repairing a public light.
He said more than 2,000 instructions to fix lights had been issued in 2013.
Westmeath County Council maintains 9,264 public lights and on March 21 this year, 98.6 per cent of them were lit.
He says a “ticket” is raised for every reported “light out” fault and the contractor has 10 working days to attend to the fault, with the understanding that if there is a complex problem underlying the outage, a specialist crew may be required and the job may take longer.
Of the 132 lights not functioning on March 21, 30 relate to tickets that have gone over their 10 day limit, 21 have been inspected, but five have access issues.
Two are awaiting ESB works, two have parts out of stock, one has a cable fault, and 11 have been the subject of sustained vandalism which will require what the council calls “complete replacement with a more robust installation”.
The council’s written report indicated that their contractor is currently in the county and that the remaining nine jobs have likely been completed, but have not been entered onto the system.
Councillors agreed with the dangers of the public fixing lights, but expressed their sympathy for Mullingar residents’ frustration, with Cllr Glynn saying some people are waiting weeks for repairs.
Cllr Pat Collins agreed, saying some lights are out for weeks on end, with a light in his own estate out since the major power outage last month, and that elderly people have particular concerns about dark areas where they live.
He said the company responsible for the lights needs to take more action sooner and derided the council’s insistence that all lights must be repaired within 10 days.
He told Declan Leonard that another zero should be added to reflect a 100 day time limit, to show the actual delay in completing work.
“These guys need to be nailed down,” he said to Mr Leonard, adding that most if not all of the elected members had reported outages that had taken significantly longer than 10 days to repair.
Cllr Glynn said delays are increasing, and both councillors expressed their hope that if a meeting is to take place with the contractor, it should happen sooner rather than later.