A COUNCILLOR is urging residents to “embrace community spirit” and tell the council when they spot broken street lights — because the authority no longer has enough staff to check them.

David Chadwick, Bolton Council's cabinet member for highways and transport, says he has received reports from some residents about faulty street lighting, but claims government cuts have left the council unable to continually monitor the 35,000 street lights in the borough, warning the situation will “only get worse”.

The council has shed 833 positions over the last two years after making £60 million worth of cuts, with the environment budget — which covers highways and engineering — being hit by £3.5 million and losing 156 posts.

The authority also faces up to £42 million worth of cuts over the next two years with 500 more posts set to go.

Of that figure, £3.9 million could come from the environment department with up to 68 further posts set to be lost.

Cllr Chadwick said: “Because the amount of money being received from government to our council has been savagely cut, highways staff who once worked during the night — checking and replacing defective units — have now lost their jobs or have been redeployed on other roles in the authority, and there is no longer the capacity to continue this service.”

He said: “The coalition government’s ill thought-out cuts has led to increasing problems for our highways department and the general public too. With yet more and more cuts, this situation will only get worse.

“We are asking members of the public for assistance in reporting faulty street lights.”

“I would encourage people to embrace the community spirit and work with the council to ensure we sustain a first class service.”

It is not the first time councillors have asked for residents’ help in the wake of shrinking public services. Last September, Horwich North East councillor Kevin McKeon urged residents to do their “civic duty” and help maintain Ridgmont Cemetery amid fears cuts could affect its upkeep.

Defective street lights should be reported to the council by emailing streetcare@bolton.gov.uk, giving the column number, location, and if the number is faded or missing then the nearest address.