Robin ParkerDear Sir

The situation regarding repair of street lights by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC)  is even worse than your correspondent Paolo Infantino (Comet Letters, 27 December) states. As well as the fact that the HCC lights inspection (scouting) system often fails to identify lights that are out, and the fact that the HCC Highways Fault Reporting web site still does not work reliably, despite being introduced nearly a year ago – about which I have raised complaints and queries many times at meetings – my recent enquiries revealed that, under the new contracts from 1 October 2012:

  • only “traffic routes” (that is, A, B and C class roads) and all those lights that are still on all night will be scouted monthly during summer months and twice monthly during winter months;
  • all other lights will not be inspected and HCC will simply rely on members of the public to report faults (presumably on their faulty Fault reporting web site);
  • the last full scouting was done in September (under the old contracts) and under the new contracts the last scout of the traffic routes was reported as being done in mid November;
  • scouts drive along trying to spot faults on roads – so, no wonder they miss a lot, because it is often impossible to see the light number if the light is out – why do they not walk the routes and do the job properly?
  • repair standards are that on the traffic routes 98% of lights should be working at any given time;
  • on non traffic routes, it may take up to 20 working days for reported faults to be repaired (it used to be 5 working days then it was changed to 10 working days about a year ago, but no announcement of this cut in service was made by HCC);
  • some town centre street lights, e.g. Danesgate, are shown as being HCC’s responsibility on their web site but HCC stated to me that they are the responsibility of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) – meanwhile neither HCC or SBC could be bothered to report that the lights were out along this busy traffic road, which is right alongside SBC’s main offices. I deliberately did not report them for weeks, just to see if either council eventually got round to it, but they did not, so in December I did report them to HCC who did in fact repair them, so why did HCC deny responsibility for them? – a muddle if ever I saw one!

Yours sincerely

Robin Parker