NEARLY 1,000 out of Colchester's 14,000 street lights aren't working, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Essex County Council, which is responsible for street lighting, also confessed it takes on average 23 days to fix them.

Of the 985 broken street lights, 57 of them aren't working because they were damaged, for example, as a result of a road crash.

It takes the council between six months and a year to fix these lights.

A total of 11 zebra crossing beacons are out of service across Colchester and it takes anything between 12 hours to 24 days to fix these.

The information was uncovered by Martin Goss, Colchester Council's portfolio holder for Waste, Sustainability and Infrastructure.

He said: "There are 14,000 street lights and at least 900 of them out is quite a high percentage.

"That is not a handful, that is a very significant amount. There seems to be issues with clusters of them not working.

"When I go to report them I find they are logged as being out of service and have been for months.

"When I query it they say it is often a cabling fault and that they are waiting for a third party.

"Someone needs to be on top of getting services in operation."

Lib Dem Mr Goss said a number of councillors had raised concerns over the amount of lights not working around the St Botolph's roundabout area of the town for several months and it was "simply not good enough".

He added: "My suspicion is a lot of lights aren't working because Essex County Council has run out of money."

However, the council has defended its repair system.

A spokesperson said: “Essex Highways crews fix over 34,000 streetlights each year.

"Ultimately the average speed of response to street light problems is largely determined by the budget available in these difficult times and so the number of crews employed, but within that we prioritise safety issues, as residents and road users would expect.

“To be as efficient as possible we group routine light repairs by area, so that our crews can fix all the lights in a group of streets to save wasting time travelling between each light.

“Some failed conventional sodium lights, where these are not safety-critical, have been left for longer because they were due to be replaced as the LED programme is carried out in the area.”