Lights out warning over budget cuts

Published Wednesday, 06 August 2014
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Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has said cuts to his department's budget could have serious implications for services such as street lighting, roads maintenance and water services.

Following last week's Executive agreement on the June Monitoring Round, the minister said the Department for Regional Development, which looks after roads and street lighting, faces a deficit in funding.

He told UTV: "That's £15m which is 4.4% in real terms and that will impact services this department would normally be expected to do.

"That will be emptying and clearing gullies, fixing road defects, such as potholes, grass cutting and street lighting.

"There will be consequences, not just to transport, but to Translink and to NI Water and people will notice a change in frontline services."

This has the potential to result in tens of thousands of street lights being out across Northern Ireland over the winter period.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy

There are around 275,000 street lights in Northern Ireland and last year 80,000 faults were reported. The cuts mean only a small proportion are likely to be attended to by DRD.

The UUP minister continued: "By law I have to balance the books.

"There is no grandstanding here, I don't have the necessary resources to carry out the duties of my department and that is as a result of the decision taken at the Executive last week."

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton, however, accused the minister of exaggerating.

He said: "Danny Kennedy - like lots of other ministers - will now have to deal with these reductions within their departments.

"I'd rather they didn't have to plan for cuts but the unfortunate reality is that they do.

"While Danny has made clear how he intends to deal with the reductions it is also worth noting that his budget has actually increased after the June Monitoring Round.

"I don't underestimate the pressures all ministers face but conjuring up the image of every street light being out or the country becoming a wilderness because of uncut grass is an exaggeration in the extreme."

The DUP minister blamed a failure to agree welfare reform on the cuts which he said would have to continue because of Westminster-imposed penalties.

© UTV News
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17 Comments
paultbay in Belfast wrote (109 days ago):
if we had more workers and fewer spongers there would be plenty of money in the 'public pot'
Conrod in Neverwhere wrote (110 days ago):
Worse things could happen than getting the night sky back
Michael Rooney in Belfast wrote (110 days ago):
street lighting - Lets go back to the days when street livhting was turned off after midnight. With modern technologhy certain lights can be turned off or dimmed - each light is costing at least £1000 per year to run and maintain
robbo in belfast wrote (110 days ago):
So danny can you explain to us all if you face these cuts and as such will make us all suffer these failings why then do we pay road tax ??????
John-Irish in Belfast wrote (110 days ago):
NO to welfare reforms the people in this country are finding it harder and harder everyday to get by full time worker and part time workers most cant even afford a good dinner are to even take there families to picture cause it cost to much money then adults cant even go out and socialize anymore cause a drink in a bar cost far to much young people cant enjoy themselves they are drinking shorts now to get drunk quicker because they cant afford to stay on beer all night instead of taking the money out of other department why don't use just cut the orange orders 4000 parades a year in half or let them have the parades and stop the bonfires the cleaning bill and removal of waste etc will save a few pounds get rid of that camp at twaddell avenue which is costing millions wow they nothing said about that but sure go ahead cut all the power completely useless. then cut stormonts heating bill electric bill and everything else in side stormont in half before hitting private contractors and workers pockets and families pockets and people pockets stormont useless DUP and Sinn fein should take a pay cut so SDLP don't let welfare reforms in and kick useless DUP and Sinn fein out all they do is blame one another like 2 year olds do completely useless parties they are NO TO WELFARE REFORM AND NO TO ANY CUTs inless its in stormont. By the way im a full time worker and im just sick of cuts being made everywhere that matters and is important and they aren't cutting cost on the stuff that there is no need for.
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