Save our street lights

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This is just a letter in reply to last week’s Guardian article on page 33 regarding turning the streets lights off.

I believe this is a terrible penny pinching decision by Notts County Council, and although was pleased to see Labour MP Yvette Cooper show ‘deep concern’ backed up by Labour Coun Alan Rhodes, what are they going to do about it?

Street lighting is important in helping to keep our roads and footpaths safe from accidents and our neighbourhoods free from crime. In dark areas, people can feel insecure and are less likely to see hazards. Even Notts County Council agree with this on their website, so why turn them off then if they are that important? It was interesting to read the comments of transport and highways Coun Richard Jackson saying the lights don’t go off until midnight where the vast majority of people are tucked up in bed! What planet does he live on? Yes, maybe the vast majority of normal Worksop residents are tucked up in bed, but the ones committing crime don’t follow this Cinderella style approach. That’s like saying we don’t need any emergency services like police between midnight and 5am because everybody is in bed, come on Councillor Jackson get in the real world. He went on to say other authorities have told them that crime and collisions don’t increase when turning the lights off, what authorities are these? Powys council in Wales have turned some of their lights back on because of ‘initial problems’ and I’m sure many other councils opting this part time scheme will have to do the same. The local police are certainly against it and with 450 police officers being cut and more black spots crime is bound to increase, along with muggings, rapes and vandalism. I just wonder where Coun Richard Jackson lives and if his streetlights will be turned off at midnight? I’m a bookmaker and I’d bet odds-on they aren’t! I’ve looked at the plans on the NCC website and I’d love to know how they have come to the conclusion of which streetlights to turn off and which ones to keep on. I’ll give you a few examples of what I mean. Streetlights around Tennyson Drive and Thackeray Close in Kilton are being turned off, yet Milton Drive and Kipling Close only a few 100 yards away are being kept on. Same applies to the streets just off Carlton Road like Ashley Court, Ashley Road, Woodland Drive and Carlton Avenue are all being turned off yet across the road Sunnyside, Beech Avenue, Oakholme Rise and Oakholme Avenue the lights are being kept on. Has somebody just sat down with a map of Worksop and stuck a pin in and randomly just picked streets to turn off? I’d love somebody to explain the logic to how they determined which streets are being kept on and which aren’t. It can’t be down to crime figures because we are talking about only a few hundred yards away. We all know the councils are under pressure to make cut backs and I don’t doubt with over 90,000 streetlights it will save money but surely street lighting is of utmost importance to the residents of Worksop. Some lights aren’t being turned off but dimmed, the equipment needed to dim lights is fairly expensive and the energy saved by dimming needs to be sufficient to pay back this initial expense within a few years to make it worthwhile. So is it going to really save that much? No, in fact initially it’s going to cost more! The council should be looking at cutting back in other areas and not put the safety of the public at risk. There are 48 Bassetlaw District Councillors who each receive £1,000 allowance to spend in the community and there are 67 Notts County Councillors who each receive £10,000, now can’t some of that money go towards keeping the streetlights kept on? For me we are going backwards and not making any progress doing this, it will be like the dark ages once they switch us off with a total disregard for public safety. Just over 75% of council tax paid goes to Notts County Council to pay towards things like streetlights, with just over 10% going to Notts police authority, just under five percent to the fire service and just under 10% to Bassetlaw council. Does this mean the areas where the street lighting is only going to be part time or none at all; will those council taxpayers be entitled to a rebate? Will they have to pay the full amount of council tax if they are to be plunged into darkness? I shall be writing to Notts County Council and John Mann to get answers to my questions, but we need the support of Worksop people who feel the same way, let’s here you! If you agree with the decision or not we all know for a fact it’s not going to help crime decrease is it? Finally over the past few weeks I have reported over 40 streetlights in Kilton and surrounding areas that haven’t been working. With praise to the Notts County Council they do respond quickly to come out and fix them within 14 days normally. If you’ve got a streetlight near you which is not working don’t leave it to somebody else to report, ring Notts County Council on 08449808080 or simply use the online fault reporting system on their website under the ‘do it online’ section on the right hand side of the screen. Although they do a monthly night patrols throughout the year, they do rely on the general public to report faults. Maybe we can’t win the battle to keep our streetlights on full time but lets at least get them working in the first place during the hours they are allowing us them on!

Finally on a lighter note, isn’t it about time the Worksop Guardian gave Geoff Coe his own column? Love reading his letters and his heart is always in the local community; Geoff always finds something to write about every week! So instead of dominating the letters page can’t we find room for him to rant in his own private column maybe?

Antony Coupe