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Lights to go out in Colchester
6:00pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
STREET lights in Colchester will be switched off overnight according to fresh proposals.
Parts of the borough will be plunged into darkness from November 1 under Essex County Council plans.
The scheme will see lights being switched off in residential streets and on some of the county’s busiest roads between 12am and 5am every night.
It is a bid to save the council £14million but The Gazette has learnt the authority has already spent £6.6million fitting special sensors on all lights to be able to switch them off remotely.
Rev Martin Pierce, who chairs a Neighbourhood Action Panel which covers Greenstead, labelled the move “ridiculous”.
“The whole purpose of street lights whenever they were installed was to provide a safe environment for people who have to be out in the dark.
“To switch them off is ridiculous.”
He added: “It is simply not safe to do it.
“In Greenstead, we have been campaigning for areas to be better lit, with this proposal, we are right back where we started.
“I understand the county council has got to save money some how and they are looking around for ways to do that, but they’re looking in the wrong areas.
“You cannot gamble with public safety.”
But Bill Nairn, who chairs the NAP in New Town and Berechurch, urged residents not to panic.
“I do not think there will be a huge change.
“It has been done in other towns and it has not changed things much in those areas.”
He added: “I understand there will be people who are worried about it, but as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t seem to have affected the places where it’s been trialled.
“My message is ‘don’t panic’.”
Essex County Council has said a pilot of the scheme in Maldon and Uttlesford demonstrated no negative impact on crime statistics or road collisions as a result of the changes.
Town centres, key road junctions and accident black spots will be exempt from the plans.
Steven Armson-Smith, Essex Police crime reduction officer, said he understood why some residents will be worried by the plans, but emphasised a trial in Maldon and Uttlesford had shown no increase in crime.
“During the trial, we did not see a change but the advice I would always give is ‘make your home look occupied’.
“Some lights [in the home] should be on from dusk until dawn.
“There are things you can still do to your own home which will act as a deterrent, such as installing porch lights.”
He added: “Street lighting doesn’t impact on people taking some responsibility to protect their own property.
“I want to stress street lighting and taking your own precautions are two separate issues.”
Essex County Council has written to all local authorities across the county, county councillors and emergency services, giving them the opportunity to suggest areas which should be excluded from the scheme.
The deadline for consultation responses for the remaining eight districts and boroughs is 27 September 2013.
If residents want to suggest areas to be excluded from the scheme, they should contact their county councillor.
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