Fears over street light cut backs

Critics have slammed the move by an increasing number of councils to save money by turning off street lights.

A number of local authorities are switching off some lights at selected times, while others are turned off completely. This has drawn criticism from the Commons Transport Select Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman, who said that safety is being compromised.

To power the UK's 7.5 million street lights every year, the bill runs to £500 million. By switching off 1,600 of its 28,000 street lights, Buckinghamshire County Council is saving approximately £700,000 a year.

Council spokesman Keith Carpenter said: "I can assure people that we are carefully monitoring this trial. We have the intention of saving money but without compromising road safety."

Schemes are already in place or are planned in Swansea, Essex, Devon, Leicestershire and areas of Yorkshire.

Mrs Ellman said: "I am extremely concerned that financial pressures are leading to steps which can jeopardise people's lives and increase the number of injuries.

"We've made great progress in recent years in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads. It would be tragic if by switching the lights off that progress was to be put back many years."

Alistair Scott, president-elect of the Institution of Lighting Engineers, said: "Switching off lights completely is not a good idea. It's a short-term measure and a cause for concern.

"We would rather see lighting levels adjusted to suit the area and the particular time of the day, with some form of lighting maintained at all times."

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