Half of lights to be switched off

PUBLISHED: 06:05 22 March 2007 | UPDATED: 21:37 29 May 2010

Janet Penfold and her husband John, chairman of the Dunmow Flitch Friendship Club – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Janet Penfold and her husband John, chairman of the Dunmow Flitch Friendship Club – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

PROTESTERS against plans to switch off three quarters of Dunmow s street-lights at night have won a partial victory. Instead of 648 of Essex County Council s 844 lamps being turned off between midnight and 5am, there will be 486 plunged into darkness. The

PROTESTERS against plans to switch off three quarters of Dunmow's street-lights at night have won a partial victory.

Instead of 648 of Essex County Council's 844 lamps being turned off between midnight and 5am, there will be 486 plunged into darkness.

The county council has yet to decide a date for when the new light times will come into force.

Janet Penfold, secretary of Dunmow Flitch Friendship Club, whose members are aged 60 and over, said: "I was very concerned when I heard that Essex County Council was considering turning the lights off.

"Elderly people often use the lights from outside their houses when they get up in the night so they don't disturb other people in the house.

"Many people don't like the pitch black and it is very easy to trip over.

"I am happy to hear that ECC has decided to keep these extra lights on. I would be very happy if they decided not to switch any of the lights off."

The partial back-down by Essex County Council means an extra 92 lights will not be switched off and a further 70 lights will remain on until 1am.

So, the number of lights that will be switched off from midnight to 5am has dropped from 648 to 486. That is from 77 per cent of the total number of street-lights in the town down to 58 per cent.

Essex County Council announced its modified proposals on Friday following negotiations with Great Dunmow Town Council.

Town clerk Owen Wilson said: "The town council is still strongly against the principle of switching off streetlights at night.

"We consider there will not be the financial and environmental benefits claimed by the county council, and that there will be law-and order and safety issues.

"The county council is, however, determined to implement the scheme despite objections.

"The town council has negotiated hard to achieve the best for Dunmow in these circumstances."

Tony Middleton, branch manager of Uttlesford Alzheimer's Society, said: "In terms of security and safety of residents, this is a good thing and it is a positive move that the council has decided to keep these extra lights on.

"For people with Alzheimer's the plan to switch the lights off has many implications. Sometimes, people with memory problems can find themselves wondering around the streets.

"The switch-off of lights would make it more difficult for family, friends and people like the police to see them and get them safely home.

The lights omitted from the midnight to 5am switch-off include the town's main roads and to residential areas, isolated alleyways and locations around elderly people's accommodation.

"The county council will be monitoring the scheme regularly with the emergency services and others and have given firm assurances that any serious problems will be dealt with quickly," added Mr Wilson.

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