Plea to halt to streetlights switch-off

Councillor Sarah Hill with one of the street light signs in Great Bowden
Councillor Sarah Hill with one of the street light signs in Great Bowden

A campaign to stop more streetlights being switched off in the Harborough area and wider county has been launched.

Leicestershire County Council has announced plans to cut a further £1m from its £3m annual streetlighting budget in the county over the next four years.

But Liberal Democrats in Harborough and Leicestershire say they are “very concerned” by the plans for further lighting cuts.

They claim the extra cuts are “likely to leave some areas of Leicestershire with no streetlighting whatsoever”.

And they say a better way forward for the Conservative-controlled county council is to make savings by introducing modern technology, including more LED lights.

Now a petition has been launched by the Liberal Democrats which says: “We the undersigned are concerned by plans to cut a further £1m to streetlighting.

“We urge the Conservative county council to make savings by introducing modern technology; the more widespread use of energy-efficient LEDs, centralising controls and greater flexibility.”

Cllr Simon Galton, who is the leader of the Lib Dem group on the county council and Harborough district councillor for Thurnby, said: “The principle of switching off unwanted lights is absolutely fine.

“But we are very concerned that in certain communities and certain areas there are too many and the wrong lights being turned off.”

The leader of the Lib Dems on Harborough Council, Phil Knowles, added: “We hope this petition will assist in forcing the issue back on to the agenda.”

But the controlling Conservative group at County Hall says the reduced lighting plan has public support, is being carefully monitored and has already saved hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Peter Osborne, the county council’s cabinet member for highways, said: “We have had few public complaints about the introduction of part-night lighting in certain areas and evidence from the police shows that crime has actually fallen in these areas.

“We have pledged to switch lights back on if the police inform us of significant problems.

“This has only happened on a handful of occasions, which shows how well this process is working.

“I would remind everyone that the public wanted us to save more money from streetlighting, in our budget consultation last year.

“We are doing this in a safe and responsible way.”

The lighting budget cuts are part of a total of £110m of savings the county council is trying to make.

Switch-off policy

County Hall began the lights switch-off in the Harborough district in January, 2012, in a move which it said at the time would save £21,450 a year.

Countywide, the council says the move has saved £500,000 and rising to £800,000 later this year.

So far about 20,000 lamps in 97 towns and villages across the county have been switched off between midnight and 5.30am.

A further 885 have been dimmed between 7pm and 7am and 852 switched off permanently.

In Harborough, about 1,430 lights have been adapted to be switched off in the early hours.