Council View: Switching off streetlights is not the answer

Coun Paul Key, Gainsborough Town Council
Coun Paul Key, Gainsborough Town Council

Now the mornings are dark the problem of street lights being switched of has become more apparent to more people.

Back in July I started a campaign for lights to remain lit all night.

Lincolnshire County Council switch lights out between midnight and 6 am in residential streets (in theory, although in some streets lights remain out after 6 am) in an attempt to save money.

We were told it would have no effect on the incidence of crime or accidents.

Well the figures I have obtained from Lincolnshire Police for the first month of lights out show an eight per cent increase in crime, mainly in assaults and burglaries, between midnight and 6 am in Gainsborough.

Residents have reported to me accidents including one person who had tripped over and was left unseen for 45 minutes in the dark.

Amazingly following this accident the council now keep lights on in the street concerned.

Surely waiting for accidents to happen before switching lights back on is not sensible.

Some residents are concerned that in order to meet the requirements of their insurance policy they must now fit their own lights outside their premises.

A female resident walking to work at 5.40am was stopped by a police patrol and asked if she was okay.

Women are especially nervous of walking the paths and highways of our town early morning and it is reassuring to know that police patrols are around at that time.

However, that does beg the question has the cost of policing our town increased?

If so the burden will ultimately will fall upon the tax payers of Gainsborough.

Other councils, most notably Doncaster, have managed to reduce the cost of lighting without resorting to a lights out policy.

Switching to LED (light emitting diode) lighting, has a capital cost for installation.

But brings big benefits in the reduction of the electricity bill by up to 75 per cent and in maintenance costs as LEDs do not need to be replaced so frequently.

The Government provides interest free loans to councils to encourage them to switch to LEDs.

Lincolnshire has not taken up the Government’s offer to spread to cost of replacing lights with LEDS.

Now that the darkness of our town is more apparent to people I have called a public meeting at which residents can sign my petition to the county council on this issue.

I have invited the county council to send a representative to answer residents questions.

Do please come along to the John Robinson Memorial Hall in Church Street on Wednesday 12 October at 7pm.

I hope to meet you there