Tipperary County Council is set to take charge of Springfield Grove. Stock photo
Local residents in darkness the past seven years can finally see the light as Tipperary County Council is set to imminently take charge of their estate.
Cllr Annemarie Ryan told the recent meeting of the Tipperary/Cahir/Cashel Municipal District meeting that residents at Springfield Grove in Rossmore Village, Tipperary Town haven’t had public lights for seven years.
“This is becoming a health and safety issue as the evenings are getting darker. And really they can’t wait another even five to six weeks while the taking in charge process passes to the roads section. At the very minimum the lights need to be switched on immediately,” Cllr Ryan said.
Cllr Ryan questioned how the lights in Springfield Crescent at the front of the estate are switched on, despite the estate not fully being taken in charge.
Cllr Michael Fitzgerald said this issue has been going on a “long, long time”. Cllr Fitzgerald said: “All anyone wants in the four or five dark months of the winter is to have lights in their estate. I know the taking in charge process can go on forever with all the different agencies who have an input into it.”
Cllr Fitzgerald said the council has turned on lights in other estates in the past. “All that was needed was bulbs. The standard of lighting was there to give people light,” he said.
“We can’t go on forever blaming Irish Water. We had Irish Water here recently and quite honestly to call it a disappointment is an understatement. We raised housing estates with them and they didn’t seem to know what we were talking about. I went away and said to myself, ‘I don’t know what we are at with small housing estates’,” he continued.
“Any issues like changing from one system to another, like giving people light, [shouldn’t take years]. The people of Springfield Grove have been going through stress and trauma for years,” Cllr Fitzgerald added.
Cllr Mary Hanna Hourigan said the lighting infrastructure is in place and that it’s only a matter of getting in a utility company to turn on the lights. She called on the council to urgently connect the lights. “Cllr John Crosse and I were in there recently and it’s actually dangerous. As someone visiting who found it unsafe, I can only imagine how the residents feel,” she said.
Cllr Crosse said there are numerous estates still to be taken in charge and that the process is “painstaking and slow”. He said: “Irish Water has signed off on the site resolution plan, which is a really good news story.”
Cllr Crosse supported the call to have the lights turned on in Springfield Grove, but acknowledged that there are trespassing issues as the estate hasn’t been taken in charge by the council. “The residents would be over the moon [if the lights were turned] and the pressure would come off, because there is a lot of anti-social behaviour, rows going on and issues that are occurring over the lack of lighting,” Cllr Crosse added.
Senior planner Brian Beck told the meeting that the council is in receipt of the bond money for Springfield Grove, which is broken down as follows: Tipperary County Council liabilities €195,000, Irish Water liabilities €57,000 and the lighting allocation is approximately €11,500.
Addressing the query as to why Springfield Crescent has lighting while Springfield Grove doesn’t, Mr Beck said they have different bond holders. “We were engaging with two different bond holders and pushing them very hard. The bond holder for the front of the estate played ball with us and turned on the lights, whereas the bond holder at the back didn’t engage with us and refused to turn on the lights,” Mr Beck said.
Senior executive engineer Kieran Ladden said the council can’t go in and turn on the lights as it is currently a private estate. “There are trespassing issues and health and safety regulations around that. It is akin to going into a private property and engaging contractors to rectify the lights. It is also outside the terms and conditions of this particular bond and outside our policy,” he said.
Mr Ladden suggested that the residents contact a utility provider to switch on the lights in the short-term, with the view that the local authority is set to take in charge the estate imminently. The council would take over the bill, from the time the lights were turned on, once the taking in charge process is complete.
In a statement issued to TipperaryLive.ie following the meeting, Director of Services Annette Daly said Tipperary County Council’s agreement with Irish Water in relation to the site resolution plan has allowed the development to progress to the final stage of the statutory taking in charge process, which involves advertising in the local newspapers and public consultation.
“Subject to the satisfactory outcome of the required public consultation period, this development will be brought before the elected members for adoption. This should be completed in the next few months. Once formally taken in charge by Tipperary County Council, all maintenance costs associated with the development will become the responsibility of the council including the public lighting,” Ms Daly continued.
In response to the concerns expressed by residents and elected members at the meeting, the council has, on behalf of the residents, taken a proactive role in bringing the issue with the street lighting to a close. The council arranged for Airtricity and its electrical contractors to inspect the public lights in recent days.
Ms Daly said the inspection sought to identify any faults and more current issues, both technical and financial, with respect to recommissioning the lights in a safe manner and with the appropriate level of certification to ensure that the lights are safe to be turned back on as soon as is practicable.