Street lights could be out over winter due to Stormont budget cuts

Lights may not be repaired during the winter, according to the minister Danny Kennedy

Tens of thousands of street lights could be out across Northern Ireland over the winter due to budget cuts, a Stormont minister has said.

The warning comes from Roads Minister Danny Kennedy whose department is facing £15m cuts.

Mr Kennedy also said he has had to stop approving some new work for road maintenance, grass cutting and gully emptying.

The move comes after Stormont agreed to endorse the June monitoring round.

Last week, it was revealed that Stormont departments, excluding health and education, were to have their budgets cut by a total of £78m.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton also warned that further cuts, amounting to £87m, would be required if a deal on welfare reform was not agreed.

Northern Ireland is being penalised by the Treasury for not endorsing welfare reforms passed by Westminster in February 2013.

Sinn Féin has led the opposition to the reforms.

In a statement to BBC Northern Ireland's Nolan Show on Wednesday, Mr Kennedy said his department was "facing a significant budget shortfall".

"My department has consistently relied on securing additional funding in monitoring rounds to fund essential roads maintenance and street lighting services," he said.

Stormont The budget, known as the June Monitoring Round, was endorsed by Stormont last week

"This year, I have already had to reduce services in these important areas in anticipation of not securing additional funding.

"Having already started from a position of a significant funding gap, I now need to deliver budget reductions of 4.4% - £15m as a result of June monitoring."

The Ulster Unionist minister said he had "no option" other than to stop issuing new work to certain contractors, who undertake one quarter of the department's work.

The schemes affected include footway and carriageway repairs - including potholes - grass cutting, gully emptying, road marking and traffic sign maintenance/replacement.

Mr Kennedy said he had also taken the "difficult decision to stop funding external contractors for the repair of street lights that fail, unless they pose an electrical hazard to members of the public".

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

'Extreme budget challenges'

Mr Hamilton, the finance minister, said he noted Mr Kennedy's comments with concern.

"Whilst I think that some of his comments could be categorised as exaggeration, I have considerable sympathy for the arguments he makes," he said.

"Northern Ireland is facing extreme budget challenges. But it is important to lay the blame in the appropriate place.

"Last week the executive agreed to reduce budgets by almost £78m and we face further reductions in the region of £87m. Why? Because of the foot-dragging and failure of leadership of Sinn Féin and the SDLP over welfare reform."

'Scare tactics'

Sinn Féin accused Mr Kennedy of "grandstanding over budgets with the finance minister".

"The minister is quite aware of the problems that arise following torrential rain with our drainage systems too often unable to cope with it," assembly member Francie Molloy said.

"I am therefore concerned to hear reports that Minister Kennedy is contemplating cutting back on clearing gullies, street lighting repairs and other maintenance as a result of budgetary pressures."

SDLP regional development spokesperson John Dallat said Mr Kennedy should "stop using scare tactics over cuts to his budget".

"It would be a much better use of the minister's time to begin actively challenging the two main parties who are responsible for the current stalemate rather than causing anxiety among those who expect him to protect the services he is responsible for," he said.

"This is not the way to win wars."

Of the £78m cuts announced last week, the three hardest hit departments are Employment and Learning, which is losing £16m, Justice, which is facing a £22m cut and Social Development, which is losing £13m.

A majority of Stormont ministers passed the deal on the June monitoring round.

However, the two Alliance ministers voted against it and Mr Kennedy abstained.

More on This Story

Northern Ireland budget pressure

More Northern Ireland stories


BBC News NI Live

    08:01: Ireland defeat Italy: BBC Sport NI

    The Irish men's hockey team defeated Italy in their final pool game of the World League Two in California to remain on course for a place at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

    Eugene Magee

    Eugene Magee and Shane O'Donoghue were the goal-scorers. Ireland will now face Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday.

    07:57: BBC Radio Foyle back at 08:00:

    BBC Radio Foyle will back on the air at 8am after technical difficulties were resolved.


    Listen to BBC Radio Foyle live here.

    07:56: Black ice

    BBC NI Travel tweets:

    4 March 2015
    07:53: Budget row:

    Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has responded to comments from UUP Minister Danny Kennedy about the budget allocation to the Department for Regional Development.

    Simon Hamilton

    Mr Hamilton said: "Its reduction of 0.6% in current expenditure is massively better than my own department or the likes of DCAL, DOE and DSD."

    07:45: Brighter days ahead

    Sunrise is getting that little bit earlier with each day as this picture of Ormeau in south Belfast sent to us by Emma Gornall this morning shows.

    Ormeau sunrise

    You can send us your pictures or comments by emailing

    07:41: Having a ball: Clodagh Rice BBC News NI

    A yellow football made in County Antrim by LMInnov8s has been scoring in more than 50 countries around the world since sales kicked off in November.

    I'll be revealing the company's new project on Good Morning Ulster at 7.45am.

    07:35: Milder weather on the way:

    The weather is improving, it should get milder over the next few days but there is a risk of ice on untreated roads this morning.

    Weather 4 March 2015

    A good chunk of the day will be be dry and bright with some sunshine. Temperatures should lift up to around 8C or 9C.

    07:29: Ward closure protest:

    About 100 people have attended a public meeting about the proposed closure of a GP hospital ward in County Down.

    Bangor hospital meeting

    A public consultation is under way about whether to permanently close the 20-bed unit at Bangor Community Hospital.

    07:25: Delays on the A1:

    BBC NI Travel tweets:

    Delays on A1
    07:18: Ice on the roads

    Transports NI says that there is a risk of icy conditions in all areas this morning, including patches of black ice.

    Salting is under way on main routes and expected to be completed by 07:30. Drivers are advised to exercise caution particularly on untreated routes.

    07:10: Radio Foyle not on air:

    BBC Radio Foyle is not on air at the moment because of a technical problem.


    Engineers are tackling the problem and normal service will resume as soon as possible. In the meantime Radio Ulster can be heard wherever you usually tune into Radio Foyle.

    07:05: 40,000 to be connected to gas network: John Campbell BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

    A project to connect around 40,000 homes and businesses to the gas network will be formally launched in Enniskillen on Wednesday.

    gas ring

    The Gas to the West scheme will cost around £250m, including a grant of up to £32m from the NI Executive.

    07:01: GPs could have saved millions

    Tens of millions of pounds could have been saved if Northern Ireland GPs had prescribed lower cost drugs, according to a new report.


    Stormont's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says NI doctors tend to prescribe more expensive branded medicines.

    07:00: Good morning!: Ciaran Daly BBC News NI

    Good morning and welcome to BBC News NI Live on Wednesday 4 March 2015. We'll be brining you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across Northern Ireland up until 19:00 this evening.



  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    Why are fewer elderly people killing themselves in the UK?

  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?

  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing

  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.