Emergency repairs only will be carried out on street lights in much of Banburyshire after the firm responsible for maintenance of the county’s street lights cancelled its contract.
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) has put in place an emergency interim arrangement after Scottish and Southern Electrical took advantage of an early break point in its contract.
It was contracted to maintain the county’s street lights, speed limit signs, traffic lights and car parking machines until March 2024, but the firm claimed the contract was not affordable for the full duration so chose to break out on April 1.
Until a new long-term contract is in place, OCC will not be carrying out routine maintenance, only urgent repairs to dangerous faults. Worst case, this could last 18 months.
A statement from OCC said: “Clearly some street lights will fail in the meantime but the vast majority won’t. So while this is obviously a far from ideal situation, disruption for Oxfordshire residents should be minimal.
“Any dangerous faults will be dealt with. Under our interim policy we would still make safe dangerous equipment within two hours of being notified and replace street lights damaged by accidents within 14 days. Clusters of failures beyond isolated outages will be assessed and their status increased to be covered by emergency repair.”
But the policy does not include repairing outages to illuminated speed limit signs, which means once those lights go out, speed limits will not be enforceable by police.
Concerns have also been raised the interim policy could see a rise in complaints from the public. County councillor Mark Cherry said he was worried failing street lights could create a crime or safety risk.
He said: “It’s shocking when you are told it has to be a health and safety risk to the public. Normally street lights are repaired in a few days – how can anyone judge leaving a street light for months with no timescale for repair?”
OCC said there were 59,300 street lights in the county and currently only 140 have faults.