Streetlight switch-off plan moves ahead

Controversial proposals to switch off almost 27,000 street lights across Norfolk after midnight have moved a step closer after county councillors supported the scheme.

Controversial proposals to switch off almost 27,000 street lights across Norfolk after midnight have moved a step closer after county councillors supported the scheme.

Norfolk County Council wants to switch off the lights between midnight and 5am to save �167,000 a year and reduce the council's carbon emissions.

County Hall says the proposal would only apply to quiet streets and would not be carried out in high crime areas or streets with high amounts of through traffic.

The suggestion has received a mixed response across Norfolk, with many councillors in favour of the switch, saying it makes sense to try to save money and reduce carbon emissions.


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But it has sparked anger in Norwich, where councillors argue it will lead to an increase in crime or at least an increase in fear of crime.

At a meeting yesterday of the county council's planning, transportation, environment and waste overview and scrutiny panel, the proposals were agreed and will be sent to cabinet.

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However, there were calls for the decision to put on hold because Norfolk police have yet to give their views on the proposal.

Andrew Boswell, Green councillor for Norwich's Nelson division, said: 'We have concerns for nurses, bar workers and students who do part- time work returning home in the smaller hours and I don't believe we know the answer as to whether this will increase crime because we haven't had a report back from the police.

'We should be waiting for that for the best possible evidence and we have not yet had that.'

But Stephen Bett, chairman of the panel, said said some streets would be exempt from the turn-off, for example if they have CCTV cameras, where the police can demonstrate switching lights off affects the ability to cut crime, and where there are remote footpaths and alleys linking residential streets.

He said: 'If there's a problem then those streets will be taken out.'

Marion Champman-Allen, Conservative councillor for Thetford East, backed the switch-off and said: 'The area of Thetford where I live is lit up like a Christmas tree. There is very little crime, very little footfall and I cannot see why the lights cannot be switched off.'

She said a similar switch-off in Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow in Essex had been introduced successfully without a surge in crime.

But Bert Bremner, Labour councillor for Norwich's University ward, said: 'I am very, very concerned and worried about the suggestion that we switch off whole areas and I think it's a retrograde step.

'I don't live in a village, but in a city. How can we scrutinise this if we haven't had the information?'

The county council's cabinet will make a decision on the proposal on January 25.

To see a list of where the lights could go off in north Norfolk, buy the North Norfolk News which is out today.

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