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Anger as Suffolk County council switches off street lights to save £90,000

PUBLISHED: 08:16 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:45 05 April 2019

Jack Owen is angry about the early switch-off.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jack Owen is angry about the early switch-off. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Labour councillors in Suffolk have warned that housing estates in towns could become less safe after the county council decided to switch off street lights 30 minutes earlier in a bid to save £90,000.

Mary Evans said the changes had been included in the budget that had been discussed by the council. Picture: GREGG BROWNMary Evans said the changes had been included in the budget that had been discussed by the council. Picture: GREGG BROWN

From the start of this month lights on housing estates and less well-used roads have gone off at 11.30pm rather than midnight – prompting anger from councillors in some of the county’s largest towns.

Labour transport spokesman Jack Owen said there had been no consultation by the Conservative-run authority before it decided to switch off the lights early.

He said: “I am extremely disappointed that the decision to cut street lighting times, a decision that impacts upon people’s lives, is taken without discussion.

“Councils across the country undertake long and detailed consultation when changing street lighting times. True to form this council has not bothered to talk to anyone about this decision.

“The council knows that there is a link between turning off street lights and the risk of crime. At a time when violent crime is on the increase this move is more likely to put women at risk.

“The fact the council has not told Suffolk residents they are doing it is a serious cause for concern.”

County council deputy leader Mary Evans is responsible for roads and transport. She said the decision had been included in the finance documents that were discussed by the council’s cabinet and included in the budget passed in February.

She said: “This is for the roads in residential areas, it does not affect the town centres or the main roads out of town centres.

“There will still be street lights on where people are coming out of nightclubs in the early hours of the morning – or at the taxi ranks they use.

“It’s not true to say that this was done without consultation – it was part of the budget.”

She said that the council would still keep lights on if the police asked for that to happen for specific reasons.

A spokesman for the county council said the authority was responsible for 57,000 lights – of which 40,000 are now being switched off at 11.30pm.

The council is also planning to reduce the cost further by installing more LED lanterns which use less power than normal bulbs.

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