Letchworth residents 'afraid to walk streets' after streetlights power outage
PUBLISHED: 17:01 30 November 2019
Streetlight failures in a Letchworth neighbourhood left residents fearing for their safety this month, amid a recent spike in anti-social behaviour in the town.
Residential street lighting in the Jarden area of Letchworth was faulty for nearly three weeks, with the neighbourhood plunged into total darkness as early as 5pm.
The outages - understood to be related to a power supply fault in the national grid - left residents afraid to walk the streets, particularly in the wake of a spike in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour in Letchworth in recent weeks.
Mother-of-two Leann Smith - who lives on the estate with her parents - said she "couldn't even see the end of her drive", and was afraid to walk her children to the car on her own.
"As you drive into Jarden from the main road, you are literally plunged into darkness," Leann told the Comet last week. "Cars are driving with their full beams on, and you have to be careful to avoid elderly residents.
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"People aren't on the streets anymore. They're afraid of being outside. My dad now comes out with me to walk my kids to the car because we don't feel safe.
"There were a gang of youths on the Jackmans Estate the other week, waving machetes - and we're just thinking, what would happen if they come to Jarden? Nobody is going to see them."
Herts police - who confirmed there has been "an increase in ASB in Letchworth" in recent weeks - also reported a house break-in at Jarden last weekend, with Leann fearing it will "happen again, as nobody is going to notice thieves breaking into houses".
She added: "The police were appealing for witnesses, but nobody knows what they looked like - because nobody could see them."
Kevin Carrol, Ringway divisional manager - working on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council - said she believes the issue has now been resolved, and was related to a faulty timer setting, with the lights dying out earlier than planned.
"We are sorry to hear of the inconvenience this caused to residents in the Jarden area of Letchworth", she said.
Most of Hertfordshire's residential streetlights are switched off between 1am and 5am, with the majority now converted to energy efficient LED lights - affording greater flexibility to dim and modify lights at specific times.