A petition has been launched in Leicestershire asking County Hall not to continue with cuts to street lighting. This is apparently due to fear of the impact (such as crime) of more lights being turned off.
The Conservative administration at County Hall began a programme of street light reductions four years ago to save money and cut carbon emissions. It is now proposing a further £1 million of savings over the next four years, as part of an overall £110 million of savings needed. This will involve further switch-offs but the location(s) have not yet been decided.
The Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Simon Galton, said:
We understand that savings need to be made but we think there are better ways of doing it than just turning off the street lights. The Conservatives could invest in LED lighting to replace existing light bulbs, which use more energy and therefore money. It would eventually pay for itself, but they say there is no money for the up-front cost. Well they signed the accounts off last week and there were £97 million in reserves. They can afford it and we hope the petition will persuade them to re-think their approach.
Leader or the Liberal Democrats on Harborough District Council, Councillor Phil Knowles, said:
Simon Galton and the team have identified that this issue is causing a great deal of concern among the public. Some residents worry about the safety aspects, others have questions about the loss of lighting and the potential relationship to crime figures. We will hopefully secure considerable public support as we take this petition on to the streets across the county – support that will assist in forcing this issue back on the agenda.
Tory Cabinet member for highways, Councillor Peter Osbourne, said:
I’m afraid Simon is just wrong on this. I know councillors should relay the public’s concerns, but they should not fan their fears. We have had few public complaints about the introduction of part-night lighting in certain areas but evidence from the police shows the crime has actually fallen in these areas. We have pledged to switch lights back on, if the police informs us of significant problems. This has only happened on a handful of occasions, which shows how well this process is working. I would remind everyone that the public wanted us to save more money from streetlighting in our budget consultation last year. We are doing this, in a safe and responsible way.