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Hi everyone,

 

We need some advice as to what course of action to follow with this situation.

 

The street light in front of our house has been switching off early evenings since Dec 09'. It looks like a timer or sensor issue, but the light stays off all night. It leaves our car in the driveway and entrance stairs in pitch dark and we are worried about our safety at night.

 

We contacted the lighting company contracted by the council and explained clearly what's going on, so they promised to come and fix it by phone and email.

 

After several complaints and assurances (via email) that it's been repaired, the light is still off every night. We contacted the council directly on February to complain further and they promised to look into the matter and resolve it. No good, we sent another email expressing our frustration as taxpayers and asking them to repair it immediately, but in formal tones. All communications in writing and acknowledged by their email system.

 

So now it's May, 4 months have passed and the light is still not fixed. We cannot think of any other solutions and want to send a letter before action, so we would like some advice.

 

many thanks

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How have you been contacting your council (i.e. have you been communicating directly with a council officer?)?

 

To be honest, taking legal action against the council would in my view be self defeating. Councils spend thousands of pounds every year defending legal cases, which is ultimately funded by the taxpayer anyway. Unless you've for example suffered an injury which is clearly the council's liability, for something like a faulty street light, you'd have very little chance of success, and such a claim would cost the council both in pure financial terms and in staff time, further not making the most effective use of taxpayer's money, though I appreciate it's a very frustrating problem.

 

I actually work for my local council, and for months last year we had a faulty light outside our office at work which flickered intermittently most days and drove everyone mad (as we work in a basement, and the lights in the corridor are the only source of light), so I know how frustrating these kind of things can be. Every time the electrician came down to look at it though, the damned thing worked perfectly, and it took us months to actually get an electrician there when it was actually flickering!

 

If you've not already done so, I'd suggest contacting your local councillor (though you may have a bit of difficulty getting them to pay attention until after 6th May ;-)) and raising the matter with them. You should be able to find out who your local councillor is either on your council's website, or on the Write To Them website (WriteToThem - Email or fax your Councillor, MP, MEP, MSP or Welsh, NI, London Assembly Member for free). Complaints via councillors tend to get more of a response than complaints via the normal complaints channels or simply emailing the council. Complaints that come in via councillors have to be responded to within very strict timescales, and because of all the extra paperwork involved and nagging from councillors if you don't respond to them quickly/get the problem resolved, complaints that come via councillors tend to get prioritised.

 

If the street lighting service is being sub-contracted to a private contractor, it adds an extra layer of beaucracy into resolving any problems (one of the many problems with privatising council services). If the contractor still hasn't resolved the problem I'd suggest asking the council what their service level agreement with the company is (might be an idea copying it to the company as well if you can get contact details for them). In the company's contract with the council there will be set details of the service they should provide and how quickly they should respond to problems etc. If they're not doing what they've agreed they'll do, the council should be insisting that they take action as they're contracted to do, which is another reason contacting your councillor might be useful, as if the councillor thinks the company isn't doing what the council's paying it to do, they'll be more liable to make a fuss about it.

 

As councillors are publicly accountable and are relying on you to vote for them to get the re-elected again, they've got more of an interest in making sure things get done. Might be worth a shot.

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When we had a problem like that, I took the number that is stenciled on the street light and rang the local electrical supplier who looks after them. They were out witn a couple of hours and fixed it.

 

So bypass the pennypinching council and ring one of the big electrical suppliers in your area (they will tell you who is the contractor) or look on the council site to see if it says there who is looking after them for the council.

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Hi guys, thanks for all the tips.

 

I probably didn't write my post well. As soon as the light begun failing, I noted down the number of the light and the phone number on its plate. I contacted the "contractor" light company of the council straight away by phone and by email and asked them to fix it.

 

Altogether we exchanged more than 7-8 emails over three months with proper job IDs and them saying they have repaired it. In fact it was the repair manager of the contractor company.

 

I took all that to the council via email (I like to keep things in writing) and yes it was an officer looking after the case indeed, it also went through the Highways Correspondence Team of the council and then they got in touch with the lighting company CCing me on the complaint and the new job ID etc. So several names of people are involved and CCed on this. Unacceptable!

 

After all that hustle, the light was still not fixed so we sent another complaint to the council as they should be responsible.

 

BlissC, thanks for the tip, I will give it a try with the local councilor, although I am not into politics, especially at this period god knows what the outcome will be.

 

It's just outrageous, after all we are paying tax to the council to deal with all that.

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