People living in private housing estates where lighting which had previously been working, was now disconnected because of the failure of the developer or management company to pay the electricity bill, are being told to “band together” and pay for the public lighting themselves.
At Monday’s Council meeting, Cllr Tony Ferguson put forward a motion calling on the Council and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to put in place a scheme to ensure public lighting is turned on in private housing estates across the county.
“This is a safety issue and it is very unfair to the many families and children who live in these estates,” he said, adding that there were at least three estates in his locality which were in this situation.
However, the Director of Service, Planning, Community and Economic Development, Joseph Gilhooly, said the Council was “not in a position” to turn on or otherwise maintain lighting in private estates until the estate is formally taken in charge by the Council.
He said that, where all the necessary infrastructure was installed, residents always had the option to turn on the lighting by coming together as a group and “opening an account with the ESB and paying the electrical and maintenance costs themselves in the interim.”
He said that the cost of running the public lighting was “not prohibitive” and argued that there was “no reason why the residents on such estates cannot work together” however he acknowledged that there would be some instances where residents would not be prepared to do this.
He agreed there were health and safety concerns surrounding the lack of public lighting on private estates but pointed out that the vast majority of these estates would not qualify for funding through the Government under the unfinished estates scheme because their lighting infrastructure was already in place and the issue was the payment of the electricity bill or the servicing of the lighting, not the installation of lighting.
When asked for clarification on whether the public lighting on private estates was an area of concern in terms of insurance liability, Mr Gilhooly added that these estates were “private properties” and the responsibility for health and safety along with the liability for any issues arising out of insurance claims, remained with the owners of the properties in the estates.