Fears mount for residents left in the dark over street lights

Residents in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn have expressed serious concerns about the lack of lighting in alleyways in the estate.

According to local TUV representative Ricky Taylor, residents have noticed an increase in crime after lighting was removed from the area, leaving many in fear to go out in the evening.

He said that the Rathvarna Walk area was of particular concern. “I have been approached by two single mothers who have had their oil tanks broken into and oil removed,” he explained

“Another gentleman has tools stolen from his back garden and a disabled man is stressed as he fears for his safety at night whilst taken his bin out.

“This is all since their light was removed from the back of their homes just before Christmas.

“In the darkness someone may trip and fall because of the state of the walkway or something more sinister could happen.”

The lighting falls under the remit of the Department for Infrastructure, who have said the policy surrounding lighting in alleyways has been in place since before 1994, however they did acknowledge that a defective cable had been identified in the area last year.

A Departmental spokesperson said: “The Department’s current policy on street lighting for access pathways, including rear access pathways, and bin alleys has been in place since before 1994. The policy states that those areas which only give rear access to properties, or are alternative to already lit roads and footpaths, will generally not be lit. The Department is under pressure to fund street lighting operations and has to prioritise its activities accordingly.

“The policy of not lighting rear pathways contributes to reducing the future maintenance burden on the street lighting budget. In order to best target the finite resources available, it has been necessary to establish criteria for the provision of lighting to the main access point of properties but, where this has been provided, does not afford lighting to rear accesses.

“Last year through the Department’s Inspection & Test Programme, a defective cable span at the rear of 98 Rathvarna Drive and 32 Rathvarna Walk was identified. As the pathway is for access to the rear of the properties and there is an alternative lit route to the front of the properties, the lighting at these particular locations was removed rather than being left with no supply.”