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Fears over streetlight switch-off plan

PUBLISHED: 09:58 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:15 14 July 2010

Fears have been raised by town leaders about the impact of controversial plans to switch off thousands of street lights across south Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council has unveiled proposals to turn off more than half of its lights between midnight and 5am to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

Fears have been raised by town leaders about the impact of controversial plans to switch off thousands of street lights across south Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council has unveiled proposals to turn off more than half of its lights between midnight and 5am to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

But civic leaders in Attleborough this week branded the night time blackout as having “no logic” and raised concerns about the affect on crime and antisocial behaviour levels.

More than 200 street lights in the Breckland town are being proposed to be switched off from the first quarter of 2010/2011 as part of the scheme to turn off 27,000 units across the county.

The proposals by Norfolk County Council, which would also see the installation of more energy-efficient lights, would help the local authority shave £167,000 off its £2m annual street lighting bill.

But Attleborough mayor Vera Dale said the town council was strongly against the plans and there appeared to be no reasoning behind leaving whole streets in the dark.

She added that a number of pubs and clubs in the town were licensed to stay open until 2am and there were crime and safety concerns about revellers walking home along unlit streets.

“They [Norfolk County Council] are going to turn off whole streets and we cannot understand how they have chosen them. There is no logic to it at all. They seem to have been picked at random.”

“The county council will save money, but will that come down to the ratepayers? And will they get a discount on their council tax?” she said.

More than 750 of Wymondham's 850 street lights are being proposed to be turned off between midnight and 5am under the county council's plans. However, town councillors this week gave their support in principle to the scheme, but raised some concerns about shutting down lights on town centre roads in Market Place, Market Street, and Middleton Street.

The plans would also see 359 lights switched off at night in Diss, 156 in Long Stratton, 140 in Hethersett, 71 in Roydon, and 49 in Harleston, which have not yet been discussed by town and parish councillors.

Adrian Gunson, the county council's cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “We are taking into account community safety and that's why we are looking at quiet, residential areas. My feeling is that there are very few people walking about in those areas between midnight and 5am.”

“But that's why we are asking the parishes and districts - to see if there are areas which do need to have street lighting all night that we haven't taken into account. And it's not just about money. It's about reducing CO2 emissions.”

A final decision is set to be made at a county council cabinet meeting on January 25.

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