Street lighting fault reporting | Oxfordshire County Council

Street lighting fault reporting

How to report a faulty street light online or by phone.

You can help by letting us know if you see a streetlight, illuminated traffic sign or bollard that is not working.

Report a street light fault online

Enter a postcode, or street name/area:

Report it by phone

Call our free 24 hour fault line on 0800 317802 *

* Please note that the fault line has an answerphone. Any messages left outside of normal office hours (9am - 5pm) are taken off first thing each working weekday.

To report serious or dangerous damage outside normal office hours, call Thames Valley Police on 101.

If you are reporting a damaged streetlight it may be dangerous, especially if any wiring can be seen. You should not attempt to help by covering up or touching the wires but, if necessary, you should warn children to keep away.

What you need to tell us

Most repairs are carried out in the daylight, when it is not easy to establish which light is faulty without accurate information. You can help us repair the fault quickly by telling us:

  • which town or village it is in
  • which road or street it is in
  • the number of the unit (this is normally found on the street side of the column approximately two to three metres up. It is normally a black number on a white square)
  • other information to help us locate it: what number house it is outside or some other adjacent building or landmark
  • what the fault is

Street lights FAQs

How quickly will the repairs be carried out?

As of 1 April 2016 the council has an interim policy which means we only respond to emergency situations which may have an impact on the health and safety of members of the public, these will be dealt with within a 24 hour period.

Other reported faults will continue to be registered on our management system and be dealt with as soon as possible.

What is the County Council responsible for?

We are responsible for:

  • maintaining the county council's street lights and illuminated traffic signs and bollards
  • administering the contract to supply them with electricity
  • designing new street lighting installations and approving the designs of developers.

How we maintain and test lights

To identify faulty lights, night inspections are carried out at two weekly intervals in the winter and four weekly intervals in the summer. Every unit we are responsible for is periodically cleaned, serviced, tested and has a new lamp fitted:

  • street lights - every three years
  • illuminated traffic signs - every two years
  • illuminated bollards - every year

In addition, all units are electrically tested every six years.

All this work is carried out by our maintenance contractor, currently Scottish and Southern Electric Contracting.

Electricity supply faults

Our response standards apply to all electrical faults within our control. Often the fault is a failure in the electricity supply, which is the responsibility of the energy supplier. In Oxfordshire this is mainly Scottish and Southern Energy, with Western Power covering the Banbury area and UK Power Networks covering the Thame and Chinnor area.

In the home or office, the electricity company is bound by a charter to ensure continuity of supply. They are under no such obligation to local authorities for street lighting, and our ability to obtain a speedy service from them is limited to friendly persuasion.

This situation has prevailed since deregulation in the 1980s, and is becoming increasingly unacceptable to local authorities across the country. Needless to say we are working hard to change the situation, and at present there is a trial scheme in conjunction with the regulator Ofgem, to find an acceptable Service Level Agreement. In general they will try to repair supply faults within 20 working days.

Damage from road traffic accidents

We try to replace street lights damaged as a result of road traffic accidents within 14 days. Wherever possible costs are recouped from those found responsible.

Can I hang festive lights from columns?

Permission is required from Oxfordshire County Council before hanging festive decorations from street lighting columns.

While festive lighting, such as Christmas decorations and hanging baskets may look attractive, it is essential that these do not put the public at risk, or obscure or damage highway lighting columns. For this reason, the columns must be structurally tested, the costs borne by the applicant.

There is a code of practice for festive lighting. Copies can be obtained from the Institute of Lighting Professionals. Any festive lighting that is erected is the responsibility of the owner not the county council. This includes responsibility for maintenance and the cost of electricity used.

How can I request additional lighting?

There is currently no budget for the installation of new lighting. If you feel that new or improved lighting is needed please contact us setting out your proposals. Alternatively, you may take up the matter with your local parish or town council. Any new lighting will have to be paid for by the relevant body making the request. This cost will include erection and the cost of 30 years' future maintenance of the lighting.

In rural areas, new lighting will only be provided in consultation with the local councils, if it is necessary (for road safety or security reasons), affordable and sustainable.

How do you check lights that burn during daylight hours?

Most street lights are controlled by photoelectric cells and these are designed to fail in the on position (i.e. the light will be on in the daytime).

We do not undertake complete inspections of all our equipment to detect 'dayburners', but rely mainly upon reports of these. There is no additional cost to us because of the way we pay for our electricity (unmetered supply), although it is still important that these are reported to us for repair as they do use additional energy that could be saved.

What happens if my trees or bushes obscure a light?

If you have a tree or bush in your garden that is affecting the efficiency of a street light, please keep it trimmed. This includes bushes that surround the base of the column or sign as access is needed for inspections and testing for electrical safety.

If we discover a problem, we will write to the owner of the land from which the tree is growing asking for the tree/bush to be trimmed. If no action is taken we will arrange for the trimming and may pass the cost on to the owner.

Can I attach anything to a lighting column?

Modern lighting columns are critically designed for structural strength. For this reason we do not allow any advertising signs etc to be attached to our equipment. Only approved and necessary signs are allowed.

Why does my street light turn off at night?

As part of Oxfordshire County Council's Carbon Action Plan, we have implemented various carbon and council tax saving measures.  One of these is to switch off street lights in residential areas from 12.30am to 5.30am, where safe to do so and with parish council approval.

Do you fix the street lighting columns?

There is an annual column replacement programme. This is designed to identify and replace lighting columns that are in a bad structural condition through age. It is normally done on a whole road basis. We have an annual programme of electronic structural testing of approximately 3,000 columns per year which is carried out by a specialist contractor.

Where can I find more information on general lighting matters?

For more information on general lighting matters, such as guidance on domestic security lighting, the reduction of light pollution or the effects of lighting on crime etc. please visit the Institute of Lighting Professionals website.

How many lights do you look after?

There are about 57,800 street lights, 4,000 illuminated signs and 2,800 illuminated bollards in the county. At any given date approximately 99.2 per cent of street lights, signs and bollards for which we are responsible are operating correctly.

In any year we receive approximately 5,000 reports of lights not working, and a further 10,000 fault reports from our night time patrol staff.

Last reviewed
07 December 2016
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