Anti light switch off campaign hits streets

A CAMPAIGN to make Herts County Council rethink plans to switch off lights overnight in Comet country was taken to the streets at the weekend.

Lib Dem councillors were out in Chells Manor in Stevenage on Saturday to gather signatures against the move by the Tory-controlled authority which will hit around 80 per cent of street lights in the town from midnight to 6am in three weeks time.

The initiative is due to be rolled out to North Herts in mid May as part of a county-wide programme which the authority estimates will save �600,000 a year.

Both Lib Dems and Labour members of Stevenage Borough Council and this paper oppose the move which will leave neighbourhoods in the dark - increasing the risk of crime, fear of crime and accidents.

Lights will be left on where CCTV cameras are in operation, in town centres and other civic areas with a significant night time economy, at junctions, roundabouts, crossings and traffic calming installations, as well as on roads with a history of night time accidents County Hall said.

Lib Dem Cllr Graham Snell said many people in the town are not aware of the switch off.

“We believed that it was right to inform as many of them as possible so that they can make their voices heard through our petition if they wish,” he said.

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Party group leader and county councillor Robin Parker added that opinion on the issue is mixed, but a “clear majority” oppose the cuts to street lighting.

“Liberal Democrats at the county council were the first to oppose the planned switch off months ago when it was first announced, and we formally proposed alternative savings that would allow much more flexibility over which lights stay on. The Conservatives smugly just told us to buy a torch.”

He added: “I have asked for a number of dangerous junctions and sites to be left on in my Chells division, but all these have now been refused. I am told that I can request that lights along footpaths - not pavements - be left on. I would like to know from the public what they wish me to do on this – do you want footpath lights left on, or not?”

To have your say on the switch off go to and

Streets in Welwyn GC where part night lighting is already in operation were plunged into darkness four-and-a-half hours early at around 7.30pm last night. Herts County Council said the the fault could be linked to the change to British summer time next weekend.