Council rules out additional public lighting in Louth due to costs
Louth County Council is not in a position to add additional public lighting to public areas in Louth, as it says it cannot pay for them.
The matter was raised by Cllr Maeve Yore at the Louth County Council February meeting, when she said that the moratorium on public lighting has to be revisited and solutions have to be offered, to allow for lighting in places like new developments in the county, which she says is definitely needed.
Director of Services, Frank Pentony, told the members in response that it was a question of money, that the local authority does not have. Chief Executive, Joan Martin, then spoke on the matter, saying that "the problem with public lighting is that every time a new public light is added to the system, that's a forever cost for Louth County Council." She said that it becomes a cost that has to be paid every year and it is a cost that the council cannot bear. "It's quite a frightening amount of our budget. We cannot just keep adding to it", she added.
Ms Martin continued, saying that "a lot of councillors were anxious to put up lights here there and everywhere, and that is historically what has happened, but we just cannot sustain adding and adding to the number of public lights as we cannot pay for them."
The Chief Executive spoke of the programme that was being undertaken by the council, to replace all the public lighting light bulbs with LED bulbs, and said that if savings were found as a result, then perhaps the situation may be revisited, but due to increasing energy prices she was afraid one would cancel the other out.
Cllr Michelle spoke on the issue, saying she was on a webinar the previous week in relation to gender based violence and how women feel safe in public spaces, where one of the key factors was lighting. She said that there is not enough lighting in our towns and villages for women to feel safe especially in the evenings.
In response, Ms Martin suggested that when the council is deciding on its property tax in September, she could put forward a proposal for a 15% increase and dedicate it to public lighting. She added that she can only deal with the budget she has. "This has been a long standing problem for the council", she added.
Director of Services, Bernie Woods, told the meeting that last year €1.6 million was spent on public lighting in the county, with €2 million budgeted for 2022.
Cllr Maria Doyle spoke on the issue, saying she raised it at budget time and that she agreed with Cllrs Yore and Hall, that it is a necessity and “certainly not a luxury”.
Cllr Doyle continued, "A lot of the people that contact me regarding inadequate lighting around the county are women who don't feel safe particularly this time of year." She referred to places in the area including Mullaharlin Road in Dundalk and large areas of Haggardstown, "where the public lighting is inadequate considering the amount of development that has happened in those areas."
"You have quite well lit estates as part of the planning permission, then the public roads going on to those estates are not well lit", she added. Cllr Doyle added that she would be happy to propose some increase in the Local Property Tax "if it meant that we would get this towards improved public lighting and it wouldn't go elsewhere, I would be happy to take that."
"I think it really is vital and is something we are going to have to take on and if that means increasing the LPT well so be it", Cllr Doyle further added
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