Short sighted plan to plunge Essex into darkness

Some of the busiest streets in Essex will be plunged into darkness as street lights all over the county are switched off overnight.

Essex County Council plans to switch off lights between 12am and 5am every night from November 1st in a bid to save £14 million. The Council’s website claims that switching off the lights would “help reduce energy consumption and light pollution”, and help reduce the county’s carbon footprint.

The scheme has been piloted in Maldon and Uttlesford, where some lights have been switched off since 2007. Braintree and Chelmsford have experimented with part-lighting since the start of the month.

Essex County Council, which pays its chief executive £210,000, claims that the measures will save £14 million, but has already spent £6 million fitting sensors to allow street lights to be switched off remotely.

Rodney Bass, Cabinet Member for Highways & Transportation at Essex County Council, had this to say: “Extending part-night lighting will deliver significant reductions to our energy consumption and related expenditure”.

Meanwhile, part-night lighting introduced by Nottinghamshire County Council in 2010 has proved so unpopular that it has now been partially repealed. Due to concerns over increased crime, the council buckled to residents demands to switch the lights back on all night in three villages this week.

To put residents' lives and safety at risk whilst asking them to foot the Council Tax bill for idle street lights is simply an insult. The whole point of street lights is that they are on when it is dark. So why should Essex families pay council tax for these lights if they are just going to be switched off?

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