SCHOOLCHILDREN are running the gauntlet every day along a dark cycle track because streetlights have not been working for more than a fortnight, councillors have warned.

As many as 26 lampposts along the rural track by Marston Ferry Road have been out since the middle of November, locals said.

As the nights draw in, children at The Cherwell School and St Nicholas Primary School have been left to pedal in the darkness.

Several councillors have complained to Oxfordshire County Council – the roads authority – but said the council shrugged the problem off, saying the lights need to be fixed by its contractor, Scottish and Southern Energy.

City councillor Mary Clarkson said the county council's answer was simply 'not good enough'.

She said: "I reported this problem to the county council last Monday and was told then they had been off for 11 days.

"There is a genuine safety risk here: people get hidden behind that hedge, and this may well deter people from cycling at night.

"Even if you have got lights on your bike you can feel unsafe.

"There will be relatively young children going along there and all you need is one cyclist without their lights on and there is a real danger of a collision."

But, she went on: "The county has just thrown its hands up in the air and walked away, and said 'it's not our problem', but actually, it does have a safeguarding duty.

"Being cast into darkness just isn't good enough."

Old Marston parish councillor, Tony Greenfield, said he also complained to the county and had the same response.

He said: "We've tried and tried and not got anywhere with the county council, but this is so important.

"We have a friend who is scared to death because she uses it every night, and children use it all the time.

"The county says 'it's not us, it's the contractor, but the county council are responsible."

County council spokesman, Martin Crabtree, said officers had investigated and discovered a power supply problem, but he went on: "Unfortunately any power failure due to cable/ supply fault has to be dealt with by the local electricity supply company.

"Statutory regulations mean the county council, nor its contractors, are allowed to try to repair electricity supply faults.

"We understand the views of local people and we would also like the fault to be repaired as quickly as possible and so have asked Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSE) if they can prioritise visiting the site.

"It is hoped that they will be able to do so this week."

SSE spokesman Edward Black said: "This fault has been reported and will be fixed as soon as possible."