Step forward for cost-cutting plans to switch off street lights

Chesterfield Street Lights
Chesterfield Street Lights

COUNCIL chiefs are to hold talks on controversial plans to switch off street lights at night.

Derbyshire County Council will launch a public consultation on proposals to turn off about 40,000 street lights between midnight and 5.30am – and some permanently – in a bid to save cash and cut energy consumption.

Speaking as the council’s cabinet approved the seven-week talks on Tuesday, Ann Western, Labour group leader, said: “There are some very, very significant concerns about crime and fear.”

But highways chief Cllr Simon Spencer said: “There’s nothing to suggest there will be an increase in crime, but saying that, I do recognise people will be concerned.”

The authority, which maintains 89,000 street lights, said the move would save about £400,000 in energy bills each year and cut carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes.

At this stage, council bosses are unable to say which lights would be switched off – but the plans would not affect town centres, some main traffic routes or areas with high rates of crime or road accidents.

A “very small percentage” of lights in some rural locations and non-residential areas including remote approaches to villages and towns would be switched off permanently.

The council said energy costs have increased “dramatically” over the last few years, rising from £1.87m in 2006 and 2007 to £2.47m in 2010 and 2011.

Derbyshire County Council’s consultation is due to start next Wednesday and residents will be able to comment via the council’s website or by filling in a questionnaire in libraries.

• For more on this story - including reactions - see this week’s Derbyshire Times.

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