‘Deep concern’ at lights plan

The shadow home secretary visted residents on Swaledale on Friday 13th April to hear their concerns about the street lights being switched off.

Monday, 23rd April 2012, 11:43 am

Notts County Council is planning to turn off lights on key streets from midnight to 5.30am which has prompted fears for many residents.

Ms Cooper said she was ‘deeply concerned’ about the plans and the effect they could have on public safety.

“It makes people feel very worried - it’s the kind of fear you shouldn’t have to go through,” she said.

“I have spoken to police officers who think it’s a really bad idea - especially at a time when we have got 450 police officers being cut and then the council are making it even harder.”

“You want the council to be working with the police and not undermining them. I don’t think the council realises just how worrying this is for people.”

Swaledale resident Annie Whittington, who has lived on the street for 16 years, said she was completely against the plans.

“We have got a lot of vandalism with cars - one of my neighbours has had his car smashed every other weekend,” she said.

“If people are doing this when the lights are on, what are they going to do when the lights are turned off?”

Fellow resident and shift worker Julie Parnham said she also had grave concerns about the plans.

“There are a lot of shift workers in this area - it’s a terrible idea. I am worried about leaving the house at 5am - it’s going to be really dark.”

Added neighbour Valerie Draper: “I know someone who has teenage children and she said it’s hard enough to persuade them to come home in time as it is with the lights on.”

“It’s only going to get harder and will do nothing for people’s perception of safety in this area.”

Notts County Council leader of the Labour opposition, Alan Rhodes, said he was delighted Ms Cooper had listened to residents’ concerns about the authority’s ‘ridiculous’ decision to reduce street lighting.

“This penny pinching idea does not take cognisance of peoples genuine concerns about community safety, the fact that there are many shift workers in our area who are leaving for work or coming home in the early hours or the impact on household or car insurance in areas which will be plunged into darkness at night,” he said. “It will be Worksop residents who will be paying out for this unpopular policy whilst the County Council makes the savings’.

Cabinet member for transport and highways Coun Richard Jackson said the part-night lighting scheme will save £1m each year and help ensure money is spent on keeping roads and pavements in good order.

“We’ve looked very carefully at other authorities to learn from their experiences and they have told us that collisions and crime don’t increase. In any case, we will continue to light crime and accident black spots,” he said.

“Let’s not forget that lights won’t be turned off until midnight – the vast majority of people will be tucked up in their beds and won’t even notice – and police statistics tell us that the majority of burglaries happen during daylight hours when people are out at work.”

He added the authority is ‘listening to residents’ and currently exploring feedback from an initial public consultation.

“There will be a full, formal six-month review of how each scheme is working which will include a detailed analysis of crime statistics and a chance for the people we consulted with prior to implementation to have their say,” he said.

“We are taking a flexible approach to the part-night lighting scheme and are prepared to respond to any issues and make changes if they are justified.”