Arson attacks triggers temporary u-turn on black-out
Blacked-out roads will have their lights switched back on after arson attacks on cars – prompting calls for a rethink across the county.
Four car fires in six months on Rockingham Way, Stevenage prompted police to ask Herts County Council to overrule its money-saving lights out policy.
The lights will be turned back on, along the street and adjacent Whomerley Road.
The Conservative authority’s Hertfordshire-wide black-out scheme plunges residential areas into darkness from midnight to 6am every day. Known crime spots, shopping areas and busy road junctions are exempt.
A spokesman at County Hall said the decision for Rockingham Way was made because of exceptional circumstances and will not be a permanent revision.
Labour’s Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor, an opponent of the policy, said it was good to hear the lights will go back on, but questioned “why we have to wait for incidents like this”.
“Lighting is a priority measure. We are told crime figures have gone up, but it’s equally as important that people feel safe. People are entitled to feel safe in their own streets.”
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Cllr Taylor added she has had calls every day from concerned residents, ranging from shift workers leaving home early in the dark to a disabled woman in a wheelchair unable to see the edge of the pavement.
“We have got to keep the pressure on the council that people want the lights,” she said.
Cllr Lynda Needham, leader of North Herts District Council, said: “We have been advised by the police that the changes to street lighting have had no impact on crime in North Hertfordshire, and that this has also been the case in parts of the county where the new arrangements have been in place for a longer period. We will continue to review the situation in partnership with the police and other members of the Community Safety Partnership.”