Essex CC presses ahead with street light switch off; Lib Dems call for review

September 26, 2013 11:39 PM

Street lightsEssex County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways has stated that he will definitely proceed with switching off nearly all street lights in Essex over the coming months. Cllr Bass was speaking today (26 September) during questioning from Councillors on ECC's Place Services Committee.

The issue was on the Agenda following a "Call In" (by Liberal Democrat Highways Spokesman Cllr Stephen Robinson) of the decision to switch off lights in Chelmsford and Braintree.

Cllr Bass faced questions from Councillors for well over an hour, as they all expressed their concerns about the scheme. Councillors from all the political groups were concerned about the consultation process.

Cllr Robinson said, "The Lib Dem group wants the council to listen more to comments from the public about particular 'danger spots' where lights should be kept on, and they should also press ahead now with low-energy LED lights as widely as possible.

Using low energy lamps

"We do realise that the council has to save money and has to cut carbon emissions but they could achieve both those objectives by moving to LED lights over a period of time," added Cllr Robinson.

"In the areas where lights are being left on, LEDs could make a big difference fairly quickly, and on new housing developments using LEDs from the start will save money even on installation."

Cllr Bass didn't reject the LED proposal but said he was in no hurry to introduce them. He also promised to consider switching a few lights back on IF people had evidence that the lights off was a security risk.

Cllr Robinson reported that one resident had narrowly avoided hitting a shopping trolley with his car that had been left in the road, and a cyclist had hit a wheelie bin. He also stated that many more people are out and about after 12 midnight than seemed to be assumed by the council, including people using the 24 hour supermarkets.

Cllr Bass felt these were minor points that did not undermine his plans, and he rejected a plea to take more notice of the "fear of crime". He stated that people will just have to adjust their behaviour if they are concerned. In response to a question from Lib Dem Jude Deakin, he stated that he was not concerned if householders started buying lamps and spotlights for outside their own homes.

Next steps

Cllr Robinson called for a working group to be formed to examine (a) how the Council had carried out the consultation, as some submissions had been lost or ignored; (b) whether the committee's previous recommendations had been implemented, and (c) whether LED lights could be introduced on a phased basis. The committee agreed to set up the working group.