Lights could be switched off to save money

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THE RAC has raised concerns over plans to switch off or dim street lights in East Riding villages to save money.

Turning off lights between 2am and 6am in some villages are among the options being considered by cash-strapped East Riding Council.

Other money-saving measures include changing the trigger points for when lights come on and off, reducing the number of hours when they are lit.

However officials are aware the move could prove controversial and say any change has to be carefully considered.

Local authorities who have trialled similar schemes have been criticised by motoring organisations, while other groups claim it leads to a drop off in walking and cycling, and it can prove unpopular with residents and parish councils.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams told The Yorkshire Post: “Good street lighting is a significant factor in helping to ensure the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, so the suggestion that street lights might be dimmed or switched-off in an effort for councils to save money will be an alarming thought for many road users.

“While many of these ‘street light-saving initiatives’ will only affect a small proportion of people using the roads during these hours, we know that drivers generally feel safer when there is good lighting and clear visibility ahead.

“The main concern would be the dangers created by pockets of darkness in residential areas for both pedestrians and cyclists.”

Coun Arthur Hodgson, whose South East Holderness patch covers a number of villages, said he wouldn’t support turning off lights en masse: “There are people kicking about at that time; farmers start at 4am or 5am. It would give me a problem.

“I think salient points, like junctions and entrances to places, have to be lit.”

A report due to be discussed by councillors on Wednesday says although energy is cheaper in the early hours it could save the council as much as £400,000.

It says there would be a site-by-site appraisal and consultation first.

Dimming “which is generally not noticeable to the human eye” and would result in a 35 per cent cost saving could save up to £140,000, off the council’s annual £1m street lighting energy bill.

However its authors warn that turning off or dimming street lights could attract criticism.

It adds: “If high visual impact changes are to be made to the present street lighting service they will need to be carefully and appropriately considered.”

According to Labour Party research last year street lights have been switched off or dimmed in three-quarters of England’s council areas. The party said much of Britain was being “plunged into darkness”, claiming the number of lights switched off had soared in recent years.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has previously called for more councils to dim lights to reduce the impact of light pollution.