Councils Face Protests at Street lights Being Turned Off
In Cleveland, UK, the North Somerset Council have been switching off streetlights to save money. Lights are switched off from midnight to 05:00 in some areas. According to the council, the decision to switch off street lights was carefully considered and investigated. Areas of road safety or crime concerns were omitted.
But in the early hours of Christmas Day 2011, soldier Edward Heal 19 was killed in a road crash in the town. He had been walking home after celebrating Christmas with his friends at the pub. He was a soldier in the King’s Royal Hussars, based at the Tidworth Camp in Wiltshire, and was preparing for a tour of duty in Afghanistan in March.
He died on a section of road where all the street lights are turned off.
Relatives and local residents have handed a petition in to the council calling for the streetlights to be turned back on. As one resident said “it is pitch black out there, you can’t see a thing”. They believe that having the streetlights on may have enabled the driver of the car to see Trooper Heal and may have prevented his death.
The council estimate that they will save around 115,000 pounds ($182,000) each year in energy costs whilst helping to reduce their carbon footprint.
In the UK in most areas, milk is still delivered to homes each morning. The milkmen are out delivering very early; sometimes well before the 5am switch-on of the streetlights. When they are in roads where the streetlights have been turned off, they are forced to deliver the milk using a flashlight. Some have reported minor injuries from tripping over loose stones and walking into obstacles that they couldn’t see.
Other residents are concerned that the crime rate will increase but there are no statistics available at this time.
It is not clear why the council decided to switch off entire streets, rather than a portion of them as many other cities have chosen to do. The council said that it would not be appropriate to comment further until a police investigation had concluded.
Written by Julie Allen
This article was originally published February 2012 on Lighting.com and is reprinted with their kind permission.