Street lighting

Find out how to report faulty or obscured street lighting, information about part-night lighting in Suffolk and how to attach something to a street light.

Suffolk Highways are responsible for the maintenance and energy of over 70,000 street lights and nearly 9,500 illuminated signs and bollards across the county.

There are also over 10,500 street lights owned by other authorities, including borough, district, town or parish councils, Highways England (for trunk roads) and private owners.

Our online reporting system  will tell you whether or not we are responsible for maintenance (you can find this in the page section below " Report a faulty streetlight, lit sign or bollard"). 

If the street light, lit sign or bollard is not shown on our reporting system, then we do not maintain or repair it.

There are numerous organisations and individuals who own areas of land which are used by the public and on which lit equipment may be located but are not maintained by us.  We do not hold records of who is responsible for them but the borough, district, town or parish councils  may know the owner. 

Some examples of locations where we  are not responsible for maintaining lit equipment are shown below:

  • Public areas including roads and pavements in new developments are usually the responsibility of the developer
  • Some streets are in private ownership and are therefore not maintained by us. 
  • Areas beyond the extent of the maintained highway (this usually includes the road, pavement and/or verge). 
  • Shared driveways, accesses and parking areas - these areas are not our responsibility if they are not part of the maintained highway. 
  • Usually the roads on trading estates and industrial estates are not part of the maintained highway. The owner or manager of the estate should be contacted with your concerns. Sometimes their details are displayed on signs at the entry/exit points.

Most street lights, mainly found in residential areas, are turned off between 11.30pm and 6:00am in accordance with our Part Night Lighting Policy - find out more in the section below on this page.

Emergency faults

If a street light is showing any of the following it's an emergency:

  • exposed electrical wires
  • 4 or more adjacent lights out, whole streets. adjacent streets
  • damaged or leaning street columns, lit bollards, lit signs or street lights
  • missing bollards
  • flashing lights (wig wags) outside schools not working
  • Belisha beacons at zebra crossings not working

To report any of the above emergencies, please call our Customer Service Team on 0345 606 6171.

Non-emergency faults

For all other problems, it's quicker ad easier to report online.

To report a faulty or obscured street light please visit our "Report a faulty streetlight" page

To report a faulty or damaged lit sign or lit bollard please go to our "Report a faulty lit bollard or lit sign" page on this website.

When will repairs be completed?

We aim to repair routine faults (such as replacing bulbs) on street lights within 1 month.  Other faults are likely to take longer, depending on the repair(s) required and the availability of specialist staff or equipment.

Priority is given to dangerous faults such as exposed wires and are normally made safe within 2 hours.

If we find the cause of a faulty light is a problem with the electricity supply we will refer it to the electricity supplier. It will then become their responsibility to resolve the problem.

Exceptions

Sometimes we can't fix problems as quickly as we would like because of circumstances outside our control - examples include:

  • Lights mounted on wooden poles that are within 1 metre of the live overhead supply cables where it is unsafe for us to work (known as G39 faults).  To enable us to undertake repairs, we rely on the electricity Distribution Network Operator (DNO) or their approved contractor to first shroud the cables so we can safely undertake repairs.  The DNO for Suffolk is UK Power Networks.
  • Units located on remote footpaths with no vehicular access. We need to use a specialist access platform to safely reach the lights and as we only have a limited number of these, we batch repair work of this type to achieve maximum efficiency.  
  • Lights out on high speed roads and/or where specialist traffic management is required
  • Streetlight faults may be caused by an underground electrical supply fault and can only be repaired by UK Power Networks as they own and maintain the electricity cables supplying streetlights (as well as homes and businesses) with electricity. You can find faults of this nature on the UK Power Networks street faults map. Their aim to repair single unit failures within 25 days and multiple units within 20 days from the date when they became aware of the fault, but works to resolve faults with energy supply to homes and businesses usually take priority.

Part-night lighting is used to reduce our energy consumption, saving both money, carbon and CO² emissions.

Streetlights are controlled by sensors that detect when it is dark enough for lighting to be required and switch on the lights. This is earlier in the winter months than in the summer.

Over 42,000 streetlights mainly found in residential areas are ‘part-night lit’ and are switched off from 11:30pm to 6am.

They will then come back on after 6am if the sensors detect it's dark enough for lighting to be required.

All other lighting, predominantly on main routes, are on all night. They also come on and off using the same light detecting sensors.

To deal with particular situations, the Police can request us to leave lights on instead of switching them off in a single or several streets for a period of time.

If you wish to attach items to a streetlight column, please visit Attachments to street lighting columns to find out how to apply. 

We don’t have enough money to replace all streetlights in a road so we focus on replacing those that have been identified as nearing the end of their useful life. Sometimes the street lights or signposts being replaced appear to be in a reasonable condition, but often it is the unseen section at or below ground level that has deteriorated.

We have a 3 year programme of replacement work, but any streetlight identified as requiring immediate removal will be dealt with as an emergency and made safe.

There may be occasions when a new street light has been erected next to an existing light. This is because either the electricity supply is waiting to be transferred from the old to the new column, or the existing cable cannot be re-used and a new service is required.

LED Lighting

Previously LED lanterns have been installed when a lighting column is replaced. The county council is aiming to convert the remainder of lanterns to LED as part of a capital funded programme within the next two years. 

Replacing streetlights and lighting in Conservation Areas

Whilst we acknowledge the aesthetic appearance of some existing lighting columns is important to some residents, we need to ensure that our limited funding enables any lighting columns across the county that are structurally unsound can be replaced. Therefore, any replacement column in a Conservation Area will have a standard LED installed and the column will be painted black.

In some cases, there may be an opportunity for the local parish or district council to provide the additional funding to enable a heritage style installation.

For further details or to read our frequently asked questions, please visit LED Streetlighting upgrade project

Regulations regarding the illumination of bollards and signs has recently been amended and when a lit sign or bollard is damaged, we risk assess the location and wherever possible, take the opportunity to replace it with a reflective bollard as this will remove the electrical hazard from the centre island and reduce our electricity costs. 

Smart Light Concepts - Image

In 2011 we were one of the first authorities to adopt a county-wide central management system to monitor and meter our street lights using a sensor mounted on each street light.

These sensors detect when a light is not working and automatically reports faults as they occur. Using this system, we can carry out works more effectively and efficiently to ensure we keep as many lights operational as possible. 

Following installation of the system, and demonstration of the benefits it provides, we were successful in winning the 2013 Highway Magazine Excellence Award for Environmental Sustainability in the Highways Sector.

Ín some areas, the central management system also provides the ability to dim or brighten our street lighting, depending on the amount of road users (known as adaptive lighting).  As this has never previously been done in the UK using multiple vendors, we introduced a pilot project to measure and count vehicle movements on a main traffic route in west Suffolk and automatically reduce or increase the lighting accordingly, with no noticeable difference in lighting levels.  

Following the success of this pilot, recognised through awards including UK IT Industry Best IoT Project of the Year and the ADEPT President’s Award for Digital Innovation 2018, we are working with European partners in a 2 Seas Cross-border Co-operation Programme to develop and test various methods, tools and concepts to demonstrate proven innovative techniques for energy savings, energy efficiency and renewable energy use in public lighting.

The Interreg 2 Seas Programme is a European Territorial Co-operation Programme and therefore an integral part of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy. It promotes cross-border cooperation between the coastal regions of 4 Member States: England, France, Belgium/Flanders and the Netherlands. This project has received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 

Our involvement is to provide knowledge and expertise and through EU funding, increase the adaptive lighting project to parts of Ipswich.

More information about the project can be found about Smart Light Concepts on YouTube.