Senior citizens in Northern Ireland could be facing darkened streets due to strict budget cuts.
It was revealed broken lights on streets close to mainly elderly-owned bungalows will not be repaired or replaced.
The Ulster Unionist Party has warned that the savings by one department could mean increased costs for the already stretched health service.
East Antrim MLA, Roy Beggs, said:
Faulty lights in the vicinity of pensioners bungalows are not to be repaired until maintenance programmes are reinstated. This is likely to result in an increased number of falls with expensive, painful stays in hospital for some of the most vulnerable in our community. It is cheaper to fix light bulbs rather than have to fix fractures. I would urge the Executive to carefully plan how they spend their money so that they are not being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Department of Regional Development (DRD) Minister, Danny Kennedy, said:
Street lighting is particularly important to pensioners as it increases their level of security and reduces the risk of anti-social behaviour. In addition, with adequate street lighting, pensioners as it increases their level of security and reduces the risk of anti-social behaviour. In addition, with adequate street lighting, pensioners are less likely to trip and fall. I believe that it is a false economy for the Norther Ireland Executive to impose short-term cuts.
The DRD released a statement saying:
Until further notice, our in-house contractor will endeavour to deal with as many street lighting defects as possible. However, they will not be able to provide the service the public would expect in normal circumstances.