A project to replace street lights in Horsham was labelled the ‘shambles of all shambles’ by one county councillor.
Scottish and Southern Electric (SSE) are currently renewing all the street lighting across the county as part of a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) agreed by West Sussex County Council.
The authority has received money from central Government to help update its lighting stock, and hopes to make significant savings on its electricity bill.
But at a WSCC North Horsham County Local Committee meeting on Monday night councillors shared residents’ anger at the lack of communication and prior warning given to them by SSE.
Peter Catchpole (Con, Holbrook) said the work had caused a lot of ill feeling and he admired the restraint of residents in dealing with the disruption.
He added: “I have quite a lot of respect for making savings but in my opinion the amount of aggravation caused in Holbrook in particular in certain parts the work was done despite the residents.
“What people had to do is talk to the teams and sort of discuss it with them, particularly in the Ashleigh Road estate it was the shambles of all shambles.”
Brad Watson (Con, Southwater and Nuthurst), chairman of the committee, added: “Some of the standard of work was pretty poor and some of the management of work was pretty poor.”
Answering questions about the project Peter Atkins, WSCC’s highways specialist services manager, said: “There are quite a few tales of woe around the county where things have happened that people have not understood perhaps what SSE were trying to do and SEE have not explained themselves.”
He added: “The idea is not for the street lighting PFI to leave a trial of doom and destruction in its wake as it goes along.”
As they move forward Mr Atkins said he would try to ensure parish councils were made aware when work was imminent.
David Sheldon (LDem, Horsham Tanbridge and Broadbridge Heath) asked how residents could report poor quality repairs.
Mr Atkins answered: “There should be no excuse whatsoever for poor workmanship.
“That’s totally unacceptable and that needs to be followed up.”
Responding to a query about part-night street lighting he explained: “There is no correlation between all-night lighting and crime.”
Visit the PFI’s website.
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