April 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Over 1,000 people have signed a petition protesting against street lights being turned off across Colchester.
Labour county councillor Dave Harris started the online petition after he was contacted by people who were concerned that plunging parts of the town into darkness between midnight and 5am could lead to an increase in crime and accidents.
Essex County Council (ECC) has overseen a programme of switching off street lights in towns and villages across the county and moved Colchester to part-night lighting on December 1.
The authority says the initiative will save money and reduce carbon emissions and that other counties, like Suffolk, have similar schemes. It points to trials of part-night lighting in the Essex districts of Maldon and Uttlesford, which have been running since early 2007, as an indication that it has thought through the strategy.
But Mr Harris says a blanket switch-off across parts of Colchester, which does not include the town centre, puts people at risk. He said: “We think some key strategic lights should be left on around the town. Young people are having to take a risk by walking through dark streets to get home and night workers are being badly affected.
“We also think converting to LED lights for street-lighting makes more sense.”
But councillor Rodney Bass, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said Mr Harris had come to the issue late.
He said: “We’ve held a full public consultation on this and have been trialling it for seven years. Most people accept we have had to take some hard decisions and we are trying to approach the issue with sensitivity.
He added: “This is a trial and we will evaluate it as we go along.”