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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