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Street light switch-off plan – Ashbourne’s response

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 03, 2014

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NEWS Telegraph readers have given their reactions to plans to switch off a number of the town’s street lights overnight in a bid to save money and energy.

Derbyshire County Council wants to shut down clusters of lights in residential areas between midnight and 5.30am as it continues to find ways to trim down its budget.

The street light alterations spread out across the county, which are currently under consultation, could shave £400,000 off the authority’s electricity bill.

Ashbourne is one of the first area’s to be discussed under the plan and, as part of the consultation, Ashbourne Town Council asked for opinions from residents ahead of sending an official response to Derbyshire County Council.

Residents responded to the appeal for comments by writing letters to the News Telegraph, or posting remarks on our busy Facebook page and the feedback has flagged up concerns over security.

Colin Wickham, on our Facebook page, said: “Bad idea. They have tried this in other towns and the crimes gone up as people can skulk around in the dark far better.”

Fern Parsons, also responding to our story on Facebook, said: “I have mixed views seeing as where I currently live there are no street lights.

“If people are worried about the security of their homes they need to buy security lights as the street lights are there to light the highway (street) and not for people’s properties.

“But equally having no street lights and being female isnt nice, but then why would I be wandering around on my own between midnight and 5am?”

Also mentioning safety concerns Claire Bevins added: “They do it in the town I am from and after a recent visit found it to be quite scary and I didn’t feel safe going to my car as it was pitch black.”

An independent study by the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust found, in areas where lights had been switched off, 55.8 per cent of women and 38.8 per cent of men said that their community now feels less safe.

A higher number of younger respondents felt their safety was negatively affected and 40 per cent of respondents considered going out less, 65 per cent avoided unlit areas and 15 per cent said they would take taxis rather than walk.

The consultation is due to end on Sunday, February 16.

See our letters on page 8 and our Word on the Street feature for more local opinion on whether street lights should be switched off.

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