The decision to turn off street lights across Stamford and Bourne between midnight and 6am will not be reversed – despite many residents fearing an increase in crime.
Lincolnshire County Council has been carrying out work on its street lights in recent weeks – with around 38,000 across the county eventually switching to the new ‘part-night’ system.
The lights are set to come on as normal at dusk, but rather than staying on throughout the night they go off at midnight and stay off until 6am.
The county council is looking to save £1.7 million from its annual £5 million street lighting budget and is intending to achieve this is by: converting 17,000 exisiting lights to energy-efficent LED, which can be dimmed late at night; ‘part-night’ lighting; and permanent switch-offs of around 3,000 lights away from residential areas.
The Mercury has been contacted by many local residents who are concerned about the ‘part-night’ system.
One partially-sighted man from Stamford said he felt trapped in his home at night because he would not be able to see anything at all if he had to go out after midnight.
Meanwhile, Louise Smith, 37, who lives in Blackthorn, Stamford, fell over while walking along the footpath beside Sidney Farm Lane on the evening of Sunday, December 3.
She said: “I had been round to see a friend in Arran Road for a catch-up and walked home just after midnight.
“I didn’t know the lights were due to be switched off and was shocked to see it was absolutely pitch black.
“I tripped over a kerb and hurt my knee. Fortunately it was not serious, but it could have been. I’m also worried about security. If it’s dark in residential areas, it could be more appealing to criminals.”
Our Facebook page has also been inundated with comments on the subject.
Robin Burgess wrote: “Don’t think it’s a good idea. Having walked around myself in the dark and slipping off a kerb it’s not safe!”
Gill Bean wrote: “The world has gone barmy – why can’t we have sensor street lights like Cyprus has? They go on as you walk toward and then off.”
Gillian Hendy wrote: “They go out in my road at about 11.30. Total darkness. I am sure they could save money elsewhere rather than doing this. Maybe from 1am but half 11 is daft.”
Pauline Lees wrote: “What about teenagers going home after a night out at weekends? You won’t be able to see the kerbs or if anyone is around the corner.”
Clare Brown wrote: “Think how the elderly will feel with no lights at all. Will be more break-ins too.”
Sally Ackerly wrote: “It is down right dangerous as it is impossible to see where the kerb is or if there is an obstacle you could trip over.”
Sarah Vallack wrote: “Pitch black when I walked home. Fell up a kerb and fortunately only grazed knees – not impressed.”
Virginia Smith wrote: “I used to walk home from Bourne after a night out but won’t do so anymore.”
The majority of people who contacted the Mercury were opposed to the changes, but Mike Holdsworth, of Drift Road, Stamford, said: “I’m delighted with the switch-off as I can now sleep through the night.
“It’s also environmentally responsible both for reducing power consumption and light pollution.”
And Sandra Wissen Dring wrote: “No more street lights shining in my bedroom. I can see the stars again. It’s how it used to be when I was younger and we all coped really well in the darkness.”
Councillor Richard Davies (Con), executive member for highways, said the county council cannot afford to continue spending as much money as it had in previous years.
He said: “The council’s budget has been cut by more than £100m over the last few years, and we have a further estimated budget shortfall of £57m for next year. We simply can’t afford to do everything we’ve done in the past.
“Streetlights are expensive, and, frankly, many of them do not need to be on during the small hours of the morning – all they are doing is burning taxpayers’ money. And by saving money in this way, we can protect other vital areas that do impact on public safety, like the pothole budget.
“The street lighting plans have been widely publicised in the press, and there have been two articles in County News, our council magazine, which is sent to every home in Lincolnshire.
“We appreciate some people may be concerned by the changes, but the evidence suggests that part-night lighting is safe and leaves the majority of road users unaffected.
“In addition, other authorities, such as North Yorkshire and Warwickshire, have 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.
“This is done in conjunction with Lincolnshire Police, the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership and the Lincolnshire Community Safety Partnership.
“In some places, changes aren’t appropriate, so we keep things as they are. In fact, around 40 per cent of street lights in Lincolnshire will remain lit all night.
“While drawing up our proposals, we also carried out an assessment of the likely impact on particular groups, such as older people and those with a disability.
“These considerations helped shape the principles we use when deciding whether part-night lighting is appropriate for a particular location.”
For more details on the streetlight transformation project, visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/streetlighting