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Street lighting - frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions for street lighting

Your questions answered...

What should I do if I want to report a street lighting fault?

A 24 hour free phone number is available for the reporting of street lighting faults and emergencies - 0800 068 4145.  UK call charges and rates (opens in a new window)

What information would assist in the identification of the fault?

Road name; the column reference number (which is painted on its side); the name or number of the property the columns is positioned outside of; any further information on the type of fault. This information will greatly assist in the identification of a fault and speed up the repair process.

What should be reported as an emergency fault?

Any fault that could cause danger to a member of the public should be reported as an emergency fault

Examples of emergency faults are:

  • a column or illuminated traffic sign damaged during a road traffic accident

  • exposed wires or electrical components

  • a column or illuminated traffic sign with an open door

  • a leaning column

  • a column that looks to be structurally damaged or unsafe

  • an illuminated traffic sign or bollard that is missing or damaged

Is the county council responsible for all street lights?

No, generally only lights on the adopted highway are maintained by the county council although district, town or parish councils can (and do) own some lights on the highway. Lights on private roads, public areas and unfinished developments are owned by the landlord and they remain responsible for the repair and maintenance of such equipment.

If any of these lights are reported faulty then the service provider will direct you to the actual owner, if this information is held

Are car park lights maintained by the county council?

Lights in car parks are not on the adopted highway and any faults on such units should be reported to whoever owns the car park, usually the same body that sets and collects the parking fees.

Who repairs traffic signs or bollards?

Illuminated traffic signs and bollards are maintained by the same contractor as Street Lighting, any faults can be reported on the 0800 068 4145 number. Non-illuminated signs and bollards are maintained by a separate service and should be reported using 01305 221020.

How long will it take to repair my light?

Emergencies are attended and made safe within 2 hours, urgent repairs are undertaken within 24 hours but most normal repairs are completed within 5 working days. If a column has to be replaced then this should be done with 15 working days. Faults involving the electrical service to the light, or energising supplies to new columns, are outside the control of the council and we rely on the local Electricity Company to undertake these works. These are usually completed within 15 days.

When will the lights in my street be replaced?

The major renewal works have already been completed with only a small numbers of lights yet to be changed, later on in the contract.

The renewal works were based on structural priority, so if your lights haven't already been replaced then they are unlikely to now be changed as they have been deemed safe.

New technology is continually assessed and may be introduced to the service, depending on the actual benefits that might be realised and the possibility of funding.

How is the street lighting service provided?

Dorset County Council appointed Dorset Lighting Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SSE Contracting, as its street lighting service provider in 2006 for a twenty five year contract. SSE are responsible for the customer interface, asset management, design and installation plus the ongoing repair and maintenance of Dorset's existing street lighting stock - covering around 42,000 columns and other pieces of equipment.

How has the contract improved the service?

When the public highway is required to be lit our street lighting service now meets at least a minimum British Standard, contributing to Dorset County Council's key objectives of improving road safety during the hours of darkness and reducing crime and the fear of crime, while enhancing the environment and quality of life for residents and visitors.

SSE has replaced all the street lighting infrastructure that was beyond its design life, ensuring the long-term structural integrity and electrical safety of the apparatus. The new units produce less upward light pollution, helping to protect the unique local environment and are much more energy efficient.

Can I have an existing column re-sited and how much will it cost?

It is sometimes possible to re-site columns in exceptional circumstances but you will be expected to meet all the costs, which can be in excess of £1000. Columns are put in positions where they provide proper and adequate lighting; it is not always possible to re-site a lamp post as it may impair the level of lighting.

My road is currently unlit or only partially lit - can additional lighting be installed?

Unlikely, the scope of the replacement project was to bring the existing stock to an acceptable standard and was not intended to light any additional areas. If your road currently has no lighting, or the levels are inadequate, then there is no funding currently available to improve this.

Can signs/banners/hanging baskets/Christmas lights be attached to street lights?

No. Standard lighting columns are not designed to carry any additional attachments and would be in danger of collapse if attachments are made. Only regulatory traffic signs can normally be attached to street lights, if the column is specifically designed to carry that attachment.

How do we design our street lighting?


In designing lighting schemes we take into account the following:

  • the cost of maintaining the equipment
  • the durability of the equipment
  • energy efficiency
  • minimisation of light pollution

New developments, offered as highway by others, must comply with both our policy and adoptable equipment specification. (pdf, 283kb) (opens in a new window)

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