Hundreds back street light campaign to help people feel safer at night
- Credit: Courtesy of Teresa Callaghan
Members of the Stevenage and North Herts Fawcett Society have been asking Stevenage residents how they feel about street lighting in the county.
The team had a stall at this year's Stevenage Day, where they presented their petition to have street lighting kept on later to help residents feel safer.
More than 400 people - both men and women - signed the petition, showing their support for keeping our streets well-lit late at night.
Group chair Teresa Callaghan said: "Stevenage Day was phenomenal! I've been going for about 20 years. This year there were lots of people, great weather and lots going on.
"We got over 400 signatures which I think is pretty good. The majority of people agree with us.
"What was interesting - obviously Fawcett Society focuses on women - but it was probably a 55:45 per cent split between men and women signing the petition.
"It was really positive. A lot of the people were interested in finding out what will happen."
Concerns around safety also extended to uneven paving and potholes causing injuries while walking in the dark.
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The group plans to deliver the petition to Herts County Council imminently.
"I'm interested to know if they will listen to 400 people in Stevenage," Teresa said.
County councillor for Stevenage, and executive member for highways and transport, Phil Bibby told the Comet: "I am aware of this petition, and look forward to discussing it when formally presented.
"Herts County Council has always been conscious of and concerned about some people’s, particularly women’s, perception of being unsafe when lights are switched off at night.
"So we have worked closely with the police since we first formulated our Part Night Lighting strategy, and sought their advice. Thankfully, it is just a perception, and we have not seen crime increase, nor residents in any greater danger where there is no lighting between 1am and 5am.
"LED lighting allows us to be more flexible and, if the local chief inspector and county councillor ask us to turn lights on at particular locations to combat a real danger of increased crime, we will seriously consider the local circumstances.
"Also, local councillors can request that we provide extended lighting up times around key hubs, such as entertainment, transport and hospitals.
"Since the conversion to LED and Part Night Lighting, residents have benefitted as a result of the county council avoiding £5m per annum of costs, which have been used in other key service areas, and we have saved 73 per cent of carbon emissions from street lighting, half of which is attributable to Part Night Lighting. Of course, many residents would prefer the lights to be off in the early hours, and light pollution has also improved, although ‘A’ roads continue to be lit all night.”
The Fawcett Society launched a Reclaim the Night campaign at the end of last year, taking to the streets of Stevenage for a march at midnight.