Council takes dim view of lights plan

PUBLISHED: 09:46 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 21:28 29 May 2010

Chief Insp Paul Eveleigh of the Essex Police said: “This initiative may well raise the cost of policing and the fear of crime.”

Chief Insp Paul Eveleigh of the Essex Police said: “This initiative may well raise the cost of policing and the fear of crime.”

DUNMOW Town Council has declared its opposition to proposals by Essex County Council street lighting to be switched off at night. In an official letter town clerk Owen Wilson states the town council is strongly opposed to the proposals to turn off street

DUNMOW Town Council has declared its opposition to proposals by Essex County Council street lighting to be switched off at night.

In an official letter town clerk Owen Wilson states the town council is strongly opposed to the proposals to turn off street lighting after midnight .

He said research has shown that there is a significant reduction in crime resulting from street lighting. "It would be reasonable to conclude that reducing street lighting would have the opposite effect," said Mr Wilson.

Lawrence McKeogh, principal engineer for Essex County Highways, said: "There are many possibilities for reducing lighting being considered.

"There are two main advantages to night lighting. The first is to cut down on carbon emissions from the energy used to light the lamps. The second is reduce light pollution, which is especially high from the older lamps."

Mr McKeogh said the problem is not as simple as just changing the bulbs for more energy efficient ones.

"The whole light unit is different and would have to be changed meaning the costs to do this would be considerable."

Solar lighting is another suggested possibility but Mr McKeogh said the solar panels and batteries are valuable and would be a target for thieves.

Also, they may struggle to supply light throughout the night, especially during the shorter, darker winter months.

Chief Insp Paul Eveleigh, Essex Police Community Safety Department, said: "Essex Police is working closely with the county council and has highlighted its concerns. In particular, the fear of crime in unlit streets."

The Essex County Neighbourhood Watch Committee has also raised concerns and asked the police to establish baselines for crime in the pilot areas.

"Essex Police fully appreciates the county council's aims at reducing its costs and the potential saving for our communities. However, this initiative may well raise the cost of policing and the fear of crime."

Mr Wilson said that should the county council proceed with part lighting, it strongly requested that Beaumont Hill, Braintree Road, Church End, Lime Tree Hill and The Causeway be included with the streets where lighting will not be reduced.

"This would retain full street lighting for the main thoroughfares in the town. It would provide the main pedestrian routes from the town centre to the housing estates and, as such, would be well used after midnight," he said.

Cabinet member Cllr Rodney Bass will make his decision in about two weeks' time. Submissions from the emergency services were due in this week but ECC has received requests for an extension.

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