Lights switched off in Felixstowe

LARGE areas of Felixstowe could be plunged into darkness to save money on street lighting - fuelling fears today that people coming home in the early hours could be put in danger.

LARGE areas of Felixstowe could be plunged into darkness to save money on street lighting - fuelling fears today that people coming home in the early hours could be put in danger.

Suffolk Coastal District Council chiefs are proposing to turn out the lights in some of the most densely-populated parts of the resort, plus seafront gardens and prom, at midnight to save £23,000 a year on electricity bills.

But residents of the Cavendish Park and Orwell Green estates are worried about the safety of young women and men coming home after visiting pubs and clubs, and also security of cars and homes.

They say there is not enough lighting in the area now - and there are many dark paths and alleys.


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On the seafront there could be dangers, too - with anyone venturing on to the prom in the dark at risk from falling onto the rocks or dropping up to ten feet onto the beach in places.

Councillor Mike Stokell called for a complete rethink on the idea.

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“The list of streets that we have received encompasses virtually all of Cavendish Park, which is a very large estate, and I think putting the street lights out at midnight will cause a lot of anxiety,” he said.

“People will be very concerned - this not a village, but an area where people come and go to their homes, from shiftwork, all the time and this is about their safety and security.

“I think you could probably get away with it at a pinch on the seafront because that is not an area which should be used by the public at night, but not in a densely-populated area.”

Mr Stokell said perhaps one-in-three street lights could be left on or a review undertaken to identify those most necessary to give cover at night.

Felixstowe mayor Ann Rodwell said: “Security must be the highest priority - we cannot let people be frightened to go home at night on foot or getting out of their cars because it is dark. These lights should stay on until 1am or 2am.”

Suffolk Coastal is responsible for about 200 footway lights in Felixstowe, while the county council manages the lights on the main roads and established parts of the town.

Cabinet member Rae Leighton said substantial increases in energy costs has caused the review of the lights, which are normally on from dusk until dawn. It was planned to install photo-electric cells from June so they would go off at midnight to save half the electricity cost.

“In addition to the financial benefits of converting the footway lighting to part-night lighting, there are benefits with regard to a reduced effect on the environment in the form of greenhouse gases and a reduction in light pollution,” he said.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WORD ON THE STREET:

Robert Gillan, 21, Hintlesham Drive

“It's a ridiculous idea. I'll definitely feel less safe and I won't be able to leave my car under a light anymore, where I feel it is safer. The entrance to my garden at the back of my house will be completely unlit and so it would be harder to spot anyone if they were trying to break in.”

Tony Storer, Hintlesham Drive

“It would be useful if they left some of the lights on. Maybe if the situation worsened and crime increased the council would have to review their decision.”

Carl Green, 22, Chelsworth Road

“There needs to be lights at that time if you're coming home from the pub, especially for young girls.”

Jeff Walker, 38, Chelsworth Road

“It' a joke, there aren't enough streetlights as it is. Some areas are already in complete darkness and it could definitely increase crime.”

Keith Atkinson, 24, Kersey Road

“I don't think it's a very good idea at all. People, especially young girls would be at risk if there were no lights. A residential area needs lights.”

Russell Green, 76, Kersey Road

“I'd prefer it if they were kept on. Pubs close later now so the lights need to be on later for people going home.”

Ken Higgs, 79, Melford Way

“If it saves money then it's a good idea. I don't have any problem with it.”

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