Streetlight switch-off plan 'flawed'

ESSEX County Council's controversial plans to switch off the streetlights in a market town have been described as deeply flawed.Maps received by the Saffron Walden Town Council show that 93% of the town's streetlighting will be turned off for five hours every night when the pilot scheme is launched in February next year.

ESSEX County Council's controversial plans to switch off the streetlights in a market town have been described as deeply flawed.

Maps received by the Saffron Walden Town Council show that 93% of the town's streetlighting will be turned off for five hours every night when the pilot scheme is launched in February next year.

Town and Uttlesford district councillor Richard Freeman said although the county council's intentions were good, the plans could cause problems.

He said: “Switching off street-lights could be a very good idea - saving energy and minimising light pollution is fine - but my primary concern is for safety.


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“One particularly dangerous alley, where there were attacks on Bell College students a few years ago, will now be in darkness.

“The town council paid for street lights to be installed there when the county council refused to, but these will now be out of action for five hours a night.”

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Very few places in the town will remain permanently illuminated throughout the night. George Street, King Street, the Market Square, Castle Street and the High Street between Castle Street and Debden Road are where the majority of lights will remain on. The town's southern estates will have no street-lighting whatsoever.

Mr Freeman said: “The Institute of Lighting Engineers has suggested switching off alternate lights, but the council's attitude seems rigidly to be either light a street or don't light it.”

The streetlights will each be fitted with a £25 device that calculates the “solar midnight” - the exact halfway point between sunset and sunrise - and then switches off the light for five hours from that point.

Mr Freeman said there should have been more consultation from the county council, which is expecting to save more than £1million per year from the £1.8million scheme.

The scheme is being trialled in the Maldon and Uttlesford district and is expected to be introduced across the whole county.

Chief Inspector Paul Eveleigh, of Essex police community safety department, said: “This initiative may well raise the cost of policing, the fear of crime and compensation claims which would be at the expense of those same communities.

“We will be fully monitoring the situation in conjunction with the council to ensure the best outcome for Essex residents.”

A county council spokesman said there were 1,243 county council-owned street lights within the parish of Saffron Walden - although this figure did not include signs, bollards, beacons and underpasses, which would continue to operate from dusk until dawn.

He said: “Of these, 1,156 will be included in the part-night trial where the light is turned off between 12am and 5am. Following consultations with the district council and the police, an exception list has been drawn up. Lights which fit this criterion will continue to operate throughout the night.”

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