Ipswich: Robberies prompt new anger over street lights

IPSWICH: A debate over the dimming of street lights has reignited today after two robberies in the same area of Chantry.

Police issued safety advice to residents after the incidents, which took place in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A 24-year-old was left with injuries to her face and abdomen after she was robbed of her watch and mobile phone at 12.15am in Birkfield Drive.

And a short while later, at 1.45am, a 19-year-old man was struck on the head and his mobile phone stolen by two assailants as he walked along Sheldrake Drive.

The story sparked a furious debate among Evening Star readers, many of whom commented online about whether changes to street lights could have had any bearing on the crimes. The majority of lights in Birkfield Drive remain on at night, but those in Sheldrake Drive are turned off at midnight.

Charles Moore, chairman of Chantry Residents’ Association, said: “We have had quite a few people complaining about the street light issue.

“When I heard the times of these robberies, I thought straight away that it was the time when the lights are off.

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“Residents are concerned that that time of night is when crime is likely to happen. Maybe they could turn the lights off at different times on different days of the week, because when people come home from nightclubs, that’s when you need the lights to be on.”

The project to dim and turn off street lights is still under review, and a spokesman for Suffolk County Council confirmed that concerns from residents would be taken into account.

He added: “We are working very closely with the borough council and the police on the entire project, and public safety is one of the key priorities we are looking at.

“The scheme is very flexible so if there is an area of need, it’s possible to turn the lights back on. We will, as always, keep a close eye on incidents like this and review the programme as necessary.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said they had worked closely with the council on deciding which lights to dim or turn off.

n Two men have also been arrested following another robbery at about 2.10am on Saturday in the courtyard behind flats in Pownall Road. The pair, aged 25 and 31 and from Ipswich, were released on bail to return to Martlesham police investigation centre on December 13.

n How do you feel about street lights being switched off? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk