Sensors replaced on street lights

Published on: 31 Oct 2014

THOUSANDS of faulty sensors blamed for causing street lights to go off too early have now been replaced.

South Gloucestershire Council rolled out part-time lighting across the district from last year in a bid to save money and cut emissions. 

But residents said it was dangerous to walk around at night because the lights were going off too early.

Lights are meant to go out between 11.45pm and 12.15am but when the clocks went back last October many started to go off as early as 10.30pm.

The council blamed blamed the problem on a batch of faulty sensors along with the lights adjusting to the end of British Summer Time.

Now crews from the authority’s Street Care team have replaced thousands of faulty photocells in time for the autumn hour change which took place on Sunday October 26.

The photocells control when the street lights switch on and off and are a vital element in the area’s part-night lighting regime. New units were installed to support the roll-out of part-night lighting in 2013 but a manufacturers’ programming error meant that they fell out of synch by an hour for about two weeks during the spring and autumn hour changes.

The faulty units have been replaced by the manufacturer at no charge to the council and by this autumn’s hour change, more than 9,000 replacement photocells in mainly urban areas including Downend, Mangotsfield and Staple Hill had been installed.  A final 3,000 units, in mainly rural areas, will be replaced by the end of November.

As well as resolving the hour change issue the replacement units have also been adjusted to operate to the council’s revised part-night lighting regime of 1am to 5am, providing an extra hour of light each night.

More than 1,700 residents have signed an online petition urging the council to keep lights on during the night. They say many people work shifts and shouldn’t be put at risk when they are travelling home.

Others have argued that many young people are making themselves vulnerable by walking home in total darkness after a night out. A total of 2,500 people must sign the petition before the council will debate the issue.

However, the council hopes the extra hour of light provided by the adjustment will satisfy the majority of residents who have complained.

Head of Street Care Mark King said: “Replacing this many photocells over a relatively short period of time has been a big challenge but we’ve made excellent progress and I’m pleased that we have done the majority of the work by 26 October.

“We’re now awaiting the final few thousand units and these will all be installed by the end of November. We’re grateful for residents’ patience while we finish the job.”

Part-night lighting was adopted by the council in 2008 as part of measures to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions through South Gloucestershire. Approximately two-thirds of the district’s 30,000 street lights have been switched to part-night operation.

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