Essex residents resist street light switch-off

A countywide street light switch-off in Essex has come up against opposition as residents call for the council to consider LED lighting and dimming instead.

Essex County Council is currently consulting on potential exclusion areas for the part-night street lighting plan that it plans to roll out across the county’s eight remaining districts and boroughs by February 2014.

Under the scheme, some streetlights will be switched off between midnight and 5am in a bid to cut carbon emissions and save an estimated £1 million a year in electricity bills.

But opposition councillors and residents fearing an increase in crime are critical of the failure to offer alternatives, such as energy-saving LED lighting and dimming.

Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen Robinson, spokesman for highways, has asked the council’s scrutiny committee to look at the consultation process.

Robinson said: ‘We think that Essex County Council should consider new style, low-energy LED lights, lights controlled by movement sensors and other technology, instead of the switch-off.

‘We know that the council has to save money and should also reduce its carbon footprint, but LED lights would reassure the public and be a more effective kind of lighting.’

A council spokesman said: ‘The use of LED lighting has been thoroughly investigated and debated at member scrutiny panels, and at present it would be far too expensive to roll out such a scheme across a county the size of Essex. We will however continue to monitor this.’

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