797 faulty street lights across Ipswich despite Tory-run Suffolk County Council’s promise to get on top of the situation

Early in the new year I started highlighting faulty street lights that Suffolk County Council had left untouched for years. These were the so-called “cut-downs”, street lights that were simply sawn off and taped up following road traffic accidents.

After my series of 13 daily tweets, Suffolk County Council undertook to schedule all outstanding works in the Ipswich area in a five-week long programme starting from 31 January. They never explained why they had allowed things to get this bad before being jolted into action but it’s clear to me that the reason is a combination of under-investment, privatisation and poor contract management.

Suffolk County Council
Suffolk County Council's promise to take action (14 January 2022)

So, with those five weeks now up I decided to take stock of how it’s going. Using Suffolk County Council’s street light reporting system I first of all checked the 13 locations highlighted in my tweets – not one of them has been repaired!

Browsing the system more extensively I was able to find a total of 797 active street light faults in the Ipswich area. Of these, 485 were raised before 14 January (i.e. before the County’s pledge to deal with all outstanding works). One dates as far back as 2013! I’ve made the full list available for download here.

Nacton Road had the highest number of faults with 42 street lights showing faulty on the County Council’s system. There again, it is is one of the longer roads in Ipswich. Worryingly though the data revealed that large areas had been pitched into darkness by unresolved faults.

Portman Road and the adjacent Alderman Road are showing 15 faults each. The County themselves describe four or more adjacent lights out as an emergency, but these faults have been open for more than a month!

With one in every 18 of the County Council’s street lights in Ipswich reported faulty and most of those that are working turned off overnight it’s now abundantly clear the County Council are not able to get the basics right.

I expect they will try to blind us with science, talking about the wonders of telecells or jam tomorrow promises of LED replacements. The LED replacement programme appears to me to be quite a long way behind schedule. I’m also hearing rumours of significant waste, as new lighting units have been installed without the rubber gaskets required to keep the electronics dry. This renders the manufacturer’s warranty void when the lamp later fails.

Functioning street lighting is vital for public safety and road safety – as Suffolk County Council hikes Council tax, we all deserve better than this.

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