Horncastle residents have given a massive ‘thumbs down’ to controversial plans by Lincolnshire County Council to switch off street lights and plunge huge areas of the town into darkness.
The News has secured a map detailing the county council proposals (see page 1) which could see more than 90 per cent of lights in residential areas turned up between midnight and 6am.
In addition, many lights – including those on main routes in the town – will be dimmed.
The cash-strapped County Council says it is implementing a ‘switch off’ plan across the entire county in a bid to save millions of pounds after cuts in central Government finding.
However, locals say the plans are flawed and have raised fears about an increase in crime and health and safety issues.
Paul Murtagh, (43) said: “I expected a few lights might be switched off but it will be like the war.
“It is asking for trouble. Not many people are around between midnight and 6am but what about criminals?”
M ary Ellam (43) said: “I’m a shift worker. I often can’t park near my house so I’ll be walking on unlit roads. I won’t even see the potholes!”
Andy Giles (23) added: “What about the emergency services? How will they fund an address? We could be talking about a few seconds delay – the difference between life and death.”
Posting on the Horncastle News Facebook page, Siouxsie Holmes said: “I go walking round Horncastle in the evening and I’m surprised how many lights aren’t on now, probably through fault, so in some areas it won’t make much difference.”
Chris Whiting said: “When you turn off Spilsby Road and into Banovallum Gardens through to Fairfax Close there are nine lights out that have been out for months.
“I nearly ran someone over the other week who was walking in the road away from the traffic.
“(I)just didn’t see them because they had dark clothes.
“This is only going to get worse. Why can’t we have LED lighting, so economical?”
Coun Richard Davies, the County Council’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “The council’s budget has been cut by more than £100m over the last few years, with a further estimated budget shortfall of £57m next year. We simply can’t afford to do everything we’ve done in the past.
“The evidence shows that, by turning these lights off at times when there is less traffic, we can save money without affecting the majority of road users.
“We appreciate some people may be concerned by the changes, but the evidence suggests that part-night lighting is safe. In fact, other authorities, such as North Yorkshire and Warwickshire, have actually seen significant decreases in crime as a result of similar changes.”
“Of course, public safety remains an overriding concern, so at every location, we give careful consideration to the effects of any reduction in lighting. In some places, changes won’t be appropriate, so we’ll keep things as they are.
“And by saving money in this way, we can protect other vital areas that do impact on public safety, like the pothole budget.
“For further details on the streetlight transformation project, visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/streetlighting.”
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