Work to replace thousands of “day-burners” – rogue street lights which stubbornly stay shining 24/7 – continues in Solihull.
In May it emerged that “a bad batch” of photocells, intended to ensure that lamps click off when morning comes, had been identified.
Several Green Party councillors have voiced concern that the defective components were leading to an unnecessary waste of electricity.
Ironically the LED technology, which has been introduced in phases to replace the old-fashioned filament bulbs, has the major advantage of providing greener, more energy-efficient lights
Earlier in the year, the council said that the glitchy kit had affected around 2,245 out of 23,717 units borough-wide – although the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has this week asked for an up-to-date figure.
Cllr Tim Hodgson, the Green Party’s highways spokesman, had also been briefed that it was around one in ten units which had gone awry.
“Whenever I see these day-burners – I suppose you would call them – I report it,” he said.
He told us that there had been some frustration that officials initially seemed to shrug off reports there was a problem, until it became apparent that the number of lights going wrong was well above normal.
“It took quite a bit of prodding to even get them to acknowledge it [was an issue] but then they said it was a bad batch.
“It is wasteful obviously and from my perspective as a Green I hate to see that.
“It’s no surprise to me that people have been raising it with us because the environment is such as big issue now and they see the waste.”
The LDRS had last week noticed a lone lamp post shining near Catherine de Barnes canal bridge, on Hampton Lane, at around 2pm.
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This fits a common pattern of apparently random failures rather than more obvious clusters.
Reports have also come in from communities ranging from rural Meriden to Kingshurst, in the north of the borough, where an unblinking light provided some unexpected illumination at a recent community picnic.
The replacement programme was already underway when Solihull Council acknowledged issues in May, although more recently it was reported that progress had been hampered by delays in parts and staff absence due to Covid-19.
The council had previously confirmed the costs of swapping the faulty sensors would be met by manufacturers rather than the local authority.
Cllr Ken Hawkins, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure, said today that the replacements were progressing.
“We are still getting through them but there are obviously quite a lot,” he said.
“And in a borough of this size there’s quite a backlog to get through.”
Addressing concerns about the environmental impact he argued that even with the issues that were currently being experienced, the more energy-efficient lights would still be making savings compared to their ageing predecessors.
The switch to LEDs was approved almost a decade ago as part of a joint effort to cut costs and carbon emissions – with the more modern lights seen as a significant upgrade on the older models.
Cllr Hawkins has urged residents to continue to report any faulty lamps to the council’s highways team so they could be added to the list of repairs.
He said the exercise could also help identify lights which were not affected by the widespread fault but had nonetheless developed an unrelated problem.
The council has been asked for the latest figure for the number of sensors to have failed and how many have been replaced to date.
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