Dunmow's charge of the no-lights brigade

PUBLISHED: 09:20 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 07:21 30 May 2010

FLOODLIGHTS in Dunmow s White Street car park are set to be switched off at night following complaints from nearby homeowners. Against police advice, councillors elected to commence a three month trial with the lights switched off between midnight and 5am

FLOODLIGHTS in Dunmow's White Street car park are set to be switched off at night following complaints from nearby homeowners.

Against police advice, councillors elected to commence a three month trial with the lights switched off between midnight and 5am, apart from four lighting columns in the centre, next to the town's Co-operative store.

However, senior police figures have already advised that the move could increase car thefts and lead to anti-social behaviour from youngsters, making residents feel unsafe.

A police statement submitted to Uttlesford District Council on Tuesday evening read: "After much consideration we feel that this [car park] falls within the town centre and we would strongly prefer the lights to stay on all night. The White Street car park is frequented by young people and as a potential opportunity for thieves every precaution must be taken."

Councillors chose to listen to the voices of residents living nearby who have complained bitterly about halogen-powered floodlights glaring into their windows.

Leading the charge of the no-light brigade was Dunmow councillor, Clive Smith.

He said: "The survey makes clear that the people asked are in favour of turning the lights off altogether. What is the point of such a survey if we are not going to listen to them?

"If people do need to walk home late, or walk to work early, they can use alternative routes such as Mill Lane and the High Street."

But the move is likely to anger traders in the town who say that for restaurant and pub customers rarely leave before midnight and will find it difficult to get back to their cars in the darkness.

Chairman of the Dunmow chamber of trade and commerce, Mike Perry, said: "The car park should be lit at all times for security. Customers for pubs and restaurants need to feel safe parking their cars in town."

Councillors disagreed that turning off any lights would increase crime, and said that they expect it to reduce anti-social because the lights attract people.

Cllr Smith said: "Skateboarders and drinkers revel in the lights and the police are frequently called. Pubs and restaurants kick out at around 11.20pm and hardly anyone seems to walk through White Street anyway."

The trial is expected to commence on or after October 1, subject to workman installing the necessary timer switches in each of the lights.

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