Blackout plan will leave women in fear says shadow minister
A shadow cabinet minister was in Stevenage yesterday to highlight how a plan to switch off street lights across the area will leave women in fear.
Labour’s shadow Home Office minister Stella Creasy was in Stevenage on Wednesday supporting party activists opposing Herts County Council’s cash-saving part-night lighting plan.
The scheme, which will see around 80 per cent of street lamps go out at midnight to 6am across the area, will cause women to fear for their safety at night the MP said.
Quoting Labour’s Commission on Women’s Safety report she said half of women feel anxious about their safety when walking in the dark.
“Stevenage is a good case in point – 11,000 lights after midnight will go out.
This affects shift workers, nurses, cleaners. People are being left in the dark.
“They are pressing ahead without talking to residents. It’s not just people in cars - it’s people walking around,” she added. She also said people will not feel safe in their homes if they cannot see a thing out of the window.
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“There will be lights out across green spaces – it’s also about being home and knowing what’s out there.
“There’s also the risk of accidents, fear of crime – people think ‘I’m not going out at night – or not taking a job because of it.
“We have lost 6,000 police officers in this country. When you add it all together people are more worried.”
The Labour party is calling for the government to conduct an urgent national audit into the reduction of lighting across England.
Ms Creasy said: “In some parts of the country they are looking at dimming the lights. Others are taking out alternate lights. “When we asked Eric Pickles, he said ‘it all sounds good to me’. They are not looking at local residents or looking at the lives women are leading.”
Lonsdale Road residents Peggy and Terry Alderson who were visited by the MP said it will impact on people’s quality of life.
“There’s a well-used footpath out here which connects Archer Road with the town centre and a lot of people use it in the evening. Without lights people are going to be very unsure about walking along that.” Mr Alderson said.
His wife added: “In winter a lamp was out on the street outside and a neighbour was really worried about it. It makes people uncomfortable in their own homes.”
The Stevenage Labour group, which is collecting opposition signatures at stalls and online said the plan did not add up.
“There’s a �28m under spend in Herts – it’s a drop in the ocean. There’s been no consultation – no discussion with groups such as Age Concern. The county council has not looked at other options.
“It puts lone women at risk and elderly people will not go out at all.”
To join Labour’s petition go to www.stevenagelabour.com/streetlights.
The Stevenage Lib Dems also have a petition against the cuts at www.stevenageliberaldemocrats.org.uk