Ipswich: Campaigner stepping up street light battle

AS the county council presses forward with proposals to turn off street lights, one concerned town resident is taking the matter into his own hands.

Rex Chittock, 79, of Darwin Road launched a petition against the plans after members of his community voiced concerns about the scheme.

The lights are being turned off or dimmed as part of the council’s attempts to cut carbon emissions and save money.

Mr Chittock, who used to head up his area’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme, said he had ventured to various locations across Ipswich and he has been inundated with residents wanting to sign his petition.

“More than 3,000 people have signed my petition,” he said. “I have been out collecting signatures every single day for four weeks. I think people are massively concerned about personal safety as there are many people out and about after midnight.

“It also feels like we are all on a curfew – a race to get home before the lights go out and we are left in darkness.

“We pay for our council tax but in a year’s time we will have missed out on 1,888 hours of light – this is a service we are paying for.”

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The scheme, which is being rolled out in five stages until December 5, aims to save the council more than �500,000 and will see lights turned off between midnight and 5.30am.

The county council has been consulting with police and councillors on which street lights should be kept on at night and which can be turned off.

Councillor Guy McGregor said: “The new system has been rolling out across Suffolk over the last two months and in that time we have received a small number of comments from the public.”

He said 7,888 street lights across Suffolk were being switched off or dimmed, adding: “The system Suffolk County Council is implementing is fully adjustable and can be modified if required.”

Sgt Roger Salmon from Suffolk police’s Ipswich South West Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “Perceptions from local officers is that crime has not increased as a result of the lights being turned off.”