Council backs lights switch off plan

ESSEX County Council has “ignored overwhelming public opposition” to back a controversial plan to switch off street lights in some parts of the county.

ESSEX County Council has “ignored overwhelming public opposition” to back a controversial plan to switch off street lights in some parts of the county.

The council is set to turn off lights from midnight to 5am for a trial period as part of a cost-cutting exercise which it says is also designed to reduce carbon emissions.

But the proposals have sparked anger from some residents fearful of an increase in crime and Essex Police has also spoken of concerns about the idea.

Yesterday a scrutiny committee turned down a request to reconsider switching off street lights in the Uttlesford district, effectively giving the go-ahead to begin the trial proposed by Rodney Bass, the county councillor in charge of highways and transportation.


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Alan Dean, an Uttlesford district councillor for Stansted, said: “I was disappointed but not surprised at the outcome.

“The county council have refused to listen to local opinion from the outset last year.

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“What staggered me was councillor Bass's statement that they chose to condemn Uttlesford to darkness after midnight because it is 'an area not used to having street lights'.

“I wish he would come here and tell that to the faces of residents in Old Bell Close and Spencer Close in my ward. People there are very angry.

“They are used to having street lights and do not want to be victimised, especially when the majority of lights under parish council control will stay on.”

The decision to request a call in - a method of reviewing policy - had been made by Tom Smith-Hughes, leader of the Liberal Democrats at County Hall.

Despite the controversy Mr Bass has said he does not believe there will be a problem with greater levels of crime in the areas where lights will be switched off.

He told the EADT: “Where is the actual evidence that suggests lights blazing into the sky between 1am and 6am actually reduces crime?”

The council has also said that street lights in roads and car parks close to train stations will remain on, all night.

Maldon and Uttlesford areas are to pilot the scheme, which will now begin in a few weeks time.

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