After weeks of broken promises, there’s more disappointment as Tory-run Suffolk County Council fails again to live up to its commitments on the maintenance of streetlights in Ipswich.
There are now 577 open faults in Ipswich with an average age of 18.7 months, including 43 outstanding road traffic collision repairs. We were told there would be no more than a “handful” of these left by the end of March.
What’s more, 577 faults is an underestimate. I have discovered that many streetlights are missing from the County Council’s online reporting system and so cannot easily reported by members of the public. Lots of these are also out of order, but do not feature in the stats. Other faults have been closed off by the County Council even though repairs are not complete.
Spectacular failure on emergency faults
- I discovered that the belisha beacons on the zebra crossing in Chapman Lane had been left untouched and in state of disrepair for nearly two years despite being reported faulty on 14 July 2020. The target time for this repair was one day (ref Twitter)
- A large dark zone on the busy A1156 Star Lane gyratory system has been left unfixed since October (ref Twitter)
- Missing illuminated bollards which should be attended to within two hours are being left for 24 hours or more after being reported (ref Twitter)
Standards are dropping too. Some ‘repairs’ have been made by replacing illuminated bollards with non-illuminated (reflective) bollards which the County may or may not keep clean enough to be effective.
It’s clearer than ever that we can’t trust Suffolk Tories to look after Ipswich’s streetlights.
A detailed look at the broken promises
Promise 1: To fix a streetlight by the target date set for the relevant category of fault in the Highways Maintenance Operational Plan (HMOP) agreed by the County Council’s cabinet. Recent revisions made to the document have lowered maintenance standards.
Promise 2: Programming of all outstanding works within the Ipswich area (31 January + 5 weeks) = 7 March. Suffolk Highways commitment made by tweet, dated 14 January 2022.
Status at 1 April 2022:
- There are 577 open streetlight faults in Ipswich with an average age of 568 days (18.7 months)
- 469 streetlights are past their target date. The average age of these faults is 647 days (21.3 months)
- 12 faults with an average age of 1,932 days (5.3 years) have no target date set
- 491 faults have been open since before Suffolk Highways made their commitment on 14 January
Note 1: Some faults have been closed off despite not being repaired, examples:
Note 2: Some streetlights are missing from the County Council’s reporting system, examples:
Promise 3: To close all road traffic repair jobs by 31 March 2022, caveated as “99%” or all bar a handful requiring specialist materials. Promise made by Cllr Paul West on Radio Suffolk on 11 March 2022 (Ref BBC iPlayer fast forward to 1:40:26).
Road Traffic Collision Repair Status at 1 April 2022:
- 43(*) such faults are outstanding in total, only two of which were raised after 11 March 2022. The faults date from between 2015 and 2022 and are 777 days (2.1 years) old on average.
- Six of the 13 faults I tweeted in the first half of January remain unfixed. These date from between 2018 and 2021, 904 days (2.5 years) old on average.
- Eight out of nine faults I tweeted about in March remain unfixed. These date from between 2018 and 2021, 579 days (19 months) old on average.
(*) The County Council’s online streetlight reporting system claimed unit 0032 (Opposite 21 Whitehouse Road was fixed on 31 March 2022. Inspection on 1 April 2022 showed that in fact the lantern was not functional (ref Twitter)!
Note 3: One repair of a pair of illuminated bollards on Yarmouth Road has been resolved by installing reflective, non-illuminated bollards. This is a clear reduction in standards and given the County Council’s poor track record on keeping bollards clean it remains to be seen whether this is a safe alternative at this busy location.
I have also prepared a status report of the streetlighting issues I have tweeted about here.