‘What about safety?’ York’s riverside lights keep going out – even during the floods

The lights on the riverside to the right of this picture were out between Lendal Bridge and Scarborough Bridge. Photographs: YorkMix

York’s riverside lights keep going out – and were not repaired for nearly three weeks on one occasion earlier this year.

And the most recent outage lasted a full 17 days – during which the Ouse was in flood, with water overtopping the bank.

The ‘totally farcical’ situation is putting safety at risk, says riverside resident Michael Porteus.


He has reported each outage. And the last time the lights failed, Marygate car park was also blacked out leaving people fumbling to find their cars in the dark, he said.

The news comes just days after YorkMix reported how the new Water Safety Forum met following the deaths of five people in York’s rivers in just three weeks earlier this year.

City of York Council has apologised for the outages and says work is underway to try to remedy the problem.

Fundamental fault

The affected bank
The lights that run along the path on the Museum Gardens side of the River Ouse have been failing between Lendal Bridge and Scarborough Bridge.

Mr Porteus lives on same side at Esplanade Court and has reported the problem promptly each time. He said the longest outage was three weeks, in February.

The shortest was three days, later in the year. And the lights only came back on on Monday 14 October after 17 days.

Mr Porteus told YorkMix:

  • I think it’s totally farcical.

    They keep emphasising water safety – and then you’ve got the main footpath from Scarborough Bridge to Lendal Bridge in total darkness. And when the river is in flood as well.

    There’s obviously a fundamental fault for this to keep happening.

    But what gets me is the length of time it takes to fix them once it’s been notified.

‘What gets me is the length of time it takes to fix them’

He said an extra risk was caused when the lights in Marygate car park went out at the same time.

“There are 350 parking spaces – and people have to walk around using their phones as torches to see their cars,” he said.

“The annoying thing is the council seems to have no sense of urgency, but there’s all this talk of river safety.”

The council response

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James Gilchrist, assistant director of transport and highways, said:

“We aims to repair lights as quickly as possible and we’re sorry about these ongoing issues. We are dealing with some outages near Scarborough Bridge where the lights need specialist equipment to reach them for repairs and servicing.

“We’re getting this sorted so we can carry out these and other repairs over the next two weeks. Where repeat failures occur we investigate any underlying reasons.

“Most riverside lights are on footpaths/cycleways which are set back and separated from the river with grass verges, hedges, fences or an embankment.

“We discourage people from going near the rivers at night or when they have been drinking, we routinely clear vegetation from the river bank to make the edge more obvious, and we have conducted significant repairs to stonework and surfaces near the edges.

“We’d also like to thanks Mr Porteus for reporting the lights going out. This can be done at york.gov.uk/ReportStreetLighting.”

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