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Warning period for lights switch off

PUBLISHED: 08:50 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:37 30 June 2010

Householders in Norfolk will get three months warning of any plans to switch off street lights in their area, it emerged yesterday.

Norfolk County Council has agreed a three-year plan to replace 27,000 street lights, fitting cells which will switch off between midnight and 5am.

Householders in Norfolk will get three months warning of any plans to switch off street lights in their area, it emerged yesterday.

Norfolk County Council has agreed a three-year plan to replace 27,000 street lights, fitting cells which will switch off between midnight and 5am.

Supporters believe the changes will cut the council's carbon footprint and save £167,000 a year.

But critics fear it will raise the fear of crime and there has been anger over the way the decisions have been taken.

Yesterday, members of the council's scrutiny committee pressed for assurances that the public would be kept informed of any switch-off plans.

Final decisions will be delegated to Mike Jackson, the council's director of planning and transportation, with assistance from cabinet member Adrian Gunson.

James Joyce, Lib Dem councillor, who asked for the decision to be called in and looked at, said it was vital that local people were involved in the process.

“There is cross-party belief that this is the correct way to go,” he said. “What this is about is the consultation process and member involvement. All I'm asking for is that councillors and members of the public can be involved in this.”

Labour's George Nobbs accused the administration of ignoring people's views and discounting the views of the council's Norwich area committee, which had raised concerns about the plans.

And the committee also unanimously supported a suggestion from Conservative councillor John Dobson stating that a decision would only be made after “due consultation with local people through their elected representatives”.

While Tory Cliff Jordan asked how the council would deal with people's fear of crime.

“One of my parishes has flagged up the fear of crime and muggings and all sorts,” Mr Jordan said. “How are you going to deal with the perception?”

Mr Gunson said there were currently two processes for switching lights off; the first when new ones are put in, and the second when they are being maintained.

Currently the public is only told when new lights are installed, but he said the authority was changing its consultation process to allow for people to be informed in both cases, and the council would seek the view of parish, town and district councils, and the local police safer neighbourhood partnership teams.

“We will review our communication process,” he said. “We will be giving three months advance notice in future, which we do not do at the moment.

“What we are looking for in the consultation is facts we didn't know about; that's the purpose of the consultation so that facts we didn't know about are brought to our attention.

“I wouldn't say we are going to be able to take into account personal preferences,” he added.

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