Street light trial in Oakham may be axed

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STREET lights which were switched off for an energy-saving trial could be turned back on.

Residents say the darker streets have made them feel less safe and just 17 per cent of people surveyed by Rutland County Council wanted the trial to continue in Oakham.

Since May, the lights on the Foxfield Way estate have been turned off between midnight and 5.30am as part of a trial to save money and reduce the county’s carbon footprint.

An identical trial took place in part of Cottesmore which could continue.

The results of the year-long trial will go before council’s cabinet on Tuesday and officers are recommending the lights be switched back on in Oakham.

The council carried out a survey of residents after six months and 18 per cent of people questioned about the trial in Oakham wanted it to end.

A further 65 per cent had no preference or didn’t respond to the questionnaire, while 17 per cent supported the lights staying switched off.

In a report to Tuesday’s meeting officers have recommended switching the lights back on “because a significant number of residents have stated that the trial has had an adverse impact on their perception of personal safety”.

Les Collins, of Greenfield, Oakham, said: “The lights should be on all night in areas like this where there are lots of houses.

“They could be switched off in more rural areas but not in residential areas where we need them to feel secure.”

James Wilson, 18, of Summerfield, said: “I haven’t

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really minded the lights being off. My girlfriend is a bit more wary of coming home late and not being able to see but I think it’s a good idea.

“It’s pretty quiet by that time of night so I wouldn’t have thought it affects many people. I don’t know how much money it saves but every little bit helps.”

Barbara Whitfield, of Ashfield, added: “People can provide their own lighting with sensors if they feel they need it.”

The trial in Cottesmore covered the Wenton Close estate, including Burley Road and Austhorp Grove. In the village, 15 per cent of people asked about the trial supported the blackout. Only eight percent objected and the remaining 77 per cent had no preference or did not respond to the questionnaire.

Janice Patient, of Wenton Close, Cottesmore, is chairman of Cottesmore Parish Council.

She said: “I don’t think people in Cottesmore are bothered about the lights being off. We’re the sort of people who go to bed before midnight.

“I have stayed up late and taken the bin out when the lights are off and it’s eerie but I don’t feel unsafe.”

Mrs Patient said people were concerned there would be more burglaries but she had not heard any reports of more burglaries.

Council officers have recommended the scheme continues in Cottesmore.

They had considered rolling out the trial across the county but said it would cost £75,000 because of the cost of the £50 units which go on each light controlling the switch-off. The trial also found that the units did not always switch on and off at the set times.

A county council spokesman said the trial areas saved about £400 a year on energy bills and about 2.4 tonnes of C02 .

Police said the switch-off had not affected crime in either Oakham or Cottesmore.