Communities could lose street lights

TOWNS and villages across the Suffolk Coastal area are today being asked for their views on whether their street lights should be switched off at midnight.

By Richard Cornwell

TOWNS and villages across the Suffolk Coastal area are today being asked for their views on whether their street lights should be switched off at midnight.

The Evening Star has already revealed plans to turn off 200 lights in Felixstowe to save money - a proposal which has already prompted fears over safety and security.

Now Suffolk Coastal council has admitted it wants to cut the lighting between midnight and dusk in nearly 40 communities.


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“It is no secret that this council is facing severe financial pressures largely because of the government's failure to fairly fund rural districts like ours,” said cabinet member Rae Leighton.

“As a result we have had to review the way that we provide all the services that we offer and ask whether they could be made more efficient.”

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He has written to 39 town and parish councils asking for their views on footway lighting - which for many streets on estates is the only lighting - being kept on throughout the night.

“This is a genuine attempt to get a local perspective on what their needs are. In many of our rural areas we have often heard views that there is too much so-called light pollution, while in our towns there are probably significant community safety issues to be considered,” he said.

“That is why I have asked for the considered opinion of the local representatives on the ground as to what they think is the right way forward.

“If we switched off every light at midnight we could save £23,000 a year, but this cannot and will not be just a financially driven decision.

“There are genuine environmental issues to take into account but these must also be balanced with the needs or indeed fears of a local community.

“I hope my letter will spark off a genuine debate into whether it is really sensible to have all parts of our district served with dusk to dawn lighting, and identify what are the local needs. Some areas might welcome a midnight switch-off, while others might prefer 2am or 3 am.”

The council is looking at installing cells on each light that would control the time they operate. If all its 1,500 lights were switched off at midnight, it would save the council nearly half of its expected bill for them.

The annual cost to the council is set to increase in the coming year by 45 per cent, bringing the total bill to £46,000 a year.

In addition to any cash savings, the council said there would also be positive benefits for the environment through less greenhouse gases and a reduction in light pollution.

Suffolk County Council is responsible for lighting on roads in towns in the district.

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