Protest prompts lights u-turn

PROTESTS over moves to switch off street lights at night in a crime blackspot area have today forced community leaders to make a U-turn.

PROTESTS over moves to switch off street lights at night in a crime blackspot area have today forced community leaders to make a U-turn.

The lights will not be going out in Felixstowe after all - and campaigners are delighted.

“This is excellent news - we are really pleased,” said Cavendish Park Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Michael Sharman.

“It was shameful to even suggest this change - a change that would have put people's safety and security at stake. We need lights from dusk to dawn.

“Suffolk Coastal's motto is 'where quality of life counts', and this seemed to be going against that entirely!”

The district council suggested turning off 200 footway lights in Felixstowe at midnight rather than leave them on all night to save money and cut carbon emissions.

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But most of the lights are on the densely-populated Cavendish Park and Orwell Green estates, which have the highest number of criminal damage offences and theft of motor vehicles in Suffolk Coastal, second highest thefts from motor vehicles, third highest violence offences and joint third highest burglaries.

Residents feared lack of lights could put people coming home in the early hours in danger, and leave cars and property at risk.

Residents' associations and the town council objected.

Suffolk Coastal cabinet member Rae Leighton said 39 towns and parishes were being consulted and have until March 31 to respond.

“So far, and as I imagined, we have had a mixed response from those towns and parishes that have replied. Based on the responses received so far it appears the rural parishes are happier to embrace the proposals whilst the more urban areas feel safety and security issues must override any energy savings and environmental advantages the proposals might have,” he said.

“With regard to Felixstowe the response we have received so far is not in favour of the proposal; we respect that view and as a result will not be pursuing the proposals any further in that area.

“Although the proposal put forward to turn off some footway lighting at midnight has environmental benefits as well as financial savings, we recognise that it raises other issues such as concerns about local safety and that is why we are consulting with town and parish councils and our response will be based on the feedback we receive from the local community.”

Do you think it's a good idea to turn the lights off at midnight? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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