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Residents urged to campaign on street light plans
4:00pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
A FORMER police officer who has fought plans to turn off street lights at midnight says Colchester residents should rally against the proposals.
The part-night lighting scheme, which means street lights are turned off between midnight and 5am every night in residential areas, was trialled in Maldon and Uttlesford in 2011.
It will be rolled out in Colchester and across Essex from November 1 in a bid to save £1million a year.
Mark Heard, an ex-cop and a current Maldon councillor, has campaigned for Essex County Council to think again.
Mr Heard said: “I would say to people in Colchester, if you do not want this, do not accept this.
“Make your opinions known about this.
“This is the only chance you have to let Essex County Council to know how you feel.”
He added: “I’m from Maldon and it is fair to say trialling this here and in Uttlesford is not really representative of the whole of Essex.”
Mr Heard has already asked county hall bosses to re-think the hours lights are switched off and has called for an extension to at least 1am.
He said he has been assured bosses are open to altering the hours in a bid to reduce crime and the fear of crime, but Essex County Council would not confirm this officially.
Steven Armson-Smith, Essex Police crime reduction officer for Colchester, added while he understood some residents would be worried by the plans, he does not expect the move to increase crime.
Mr Armson-Smith added: “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.”
Under the plans, areas such as town centres, places with a lot of high-security premises, busy road junctions and accident black spots will be exempt.
The county council plans to extend the scheme to Tendring in January 2014.
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