Safety fears over city street lights not being on when it is still dark
Street lights in Belfast are keeping drivers and pedestrians in the dark for too long - and the situation is "an accident waiting to happen", a veteran city councillor has said.
Two-time Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said he had received many complaints about lights coming on too late in the mornings and not early enough in the evenings.
He said the problem posed a safety issue for the city's citizens, particularly pedestrians and parents who have to take their children to and from school.
Mr Rodgers called on the Department for Infrastructure to take action to address the situation.
"Street lights are going off far too early and coming on too late and it's a problem being experienced by people all over the city," the Ulster Unionist said.
"I raised this at a meeting with officials from Transport NI in December but absolutely nothing seems to have changed.
"In the run-up to Christmas the street lights across the city should have been going on around 3.40pm, but they weren't going on until 4pm.
"Similarly, in the morning the lights were going off about 7.55am despite the fact that it was still dark right up until about 8.30am.
"Lots of motorists and members of the community, especially parents of schoolchildren, have complained about the lack of street lighting when it is most needed."
He added: "It's an accident waiting to happen."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said that street lights in Belfast don't have fixed operating times, adding that they switch on and off when required.
"Street lights are generally controlled by photo-electric cells, that switch the lights on and off at pre-set lighting levels," she said. "Rather than having fixed operating times, the photo-cells respond to the ambient lighting levels, to switch the lights on and off when required.
"Since modern street lights reach full brightness much faster than older lights, they can be generally switched on slightly later than older systems.
"If anyone has concerns about particular street lights that they feel are too late in switching on or off, or are faulty in any other way, they can let TransportNI know by using the online fault reporting facility on NI Direct -https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/report-street-light-fault, or by phone on 0300 200 7899."