Tens of thousands of street lights could be left unlit during the winter months as a result of Stormont funding cuts.
That is the warning from regional development minister Danny Kennedy today, who said that is just one consequence of a £15m budget reduction he is being forced to accept, amounting to 4.4 per cent of his department’s cash.
He also said he has ordered that contractors must not carry out grass cutting, repairing of potholes, and repainting of road markings.
The cuts are the result of the June monitoring round; the budget drawn up by the Executive every summer.
As part of a lengthy statement outlining the new cutbacks, he said: “I am currently assessing the position across the department but as the first phase of measures,
“I have had no option other than to stop issuing new work instructions to our contractors, who currently undertake one quarter of our work, in the following areas: footway and carriageway patching including potholes; grass cutting/environmental maintenance; gully emptying; road marking maintenance/renewal; traffic sign maintenance/replacement.
“Our in-house contractor will endeavour to keep the road network in as safe a condition as possible, however, they will not be able to provide the service the public would expect in normal circumstances”.
He also said that funding has meant that contractors will not be repairing street lights which have failed, unless they pose an electrical hazard.
The minister added: “This has the potential to result in tens of thousands of street lights being out across Northern Ireland over the winter period.
“These have been tough decisions to take but at this time are an attempt to try and protect areas such as winter service where withdrawal of our work could have an even greater impact on the Northern Ireland economy and the public”.