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Lights switch off plan sparks crime fear

PUBLISHED: 10:33 02 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:41 03 July 2010

PUBLIC opinion is set to be sought on the idea of switching off some street lights in Norfolk during the small hours amid concerns the move could increase crime or the fear of it.

PUBLIC opinion is set to be sought on the idea of switching off some street lights in Norfolk during the small hours amid concerns the move could increase crime or the fear of it.

The suggestion to switch off or dim street and roadside lights for part of the night has been made to help save money and the environment.

A report detailing options will go to Norfolk County Council's scrutiny panel for planning, transportation, the environment and waste next Wednesday.

Street lighting currently costs the council £2.3m a year while a trial run by Essex County Council found that savings of up to 20pc could be made in areas where “part night lighting” was used.

The Norfolk County Council report states that merely upgrading lights to more efficient ones which switch on and off more quickly could save £1m over the lifetime of the current

25-year PFI contract.

Lights on busy roads could be dimmed when traffic flow is lighter between dusk and dawn, or 8pm and 6am and some residential streets could see lights switched off between midnight and 5am.

The report states: “Technically it would be feasible to implement part night lighting in discrete areas or even individual streets.”

But it also goes on to say: “Switching off street lights in residential areas could significantly affect the public's fear of crime and possibly affect the incidence of crime.

“If the review panel considers that a change in policy should be explored then crime and disorder implications will need to be carefully considered during the consultation process and before any decisions are made.”

Adrian Gunson, county councillor and cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “There needs to be more evidence and more information about night time crime.

“There is an environmental and energy benefit to part night lighting but it is not something one would want to do lightly.”

A task group set up to look into street lighting policy concluded that consultation would have to be carried out before any changes were made, the report states.

Initially there are proposals to use the Norfolk Citizen's Panel in February to look at attitudes towards the switching off of street lights and the scheme if given the go ahead eventually would be trialled first.


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