Streets to go dark as city seeks to save cash

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PARTS of Leeds will be darker at night this week – as the city council starts switching off street lights.

The move is the first phase of a longer programme to try to reduce both energy costs and carbon emissions.

The three-year scheme will see 8,000 of the city’s 92,000 street lights being turned off between midnight and 5.30am – action that should save Leeds City Council £1.3m over 10 years and reduce the street lighting carbon emissions by 4.7 per cent a year.

First to go dark will be outer areas of the city – Garforth and Swillington, followed by Adel and Wharfedale then Otley and Yeadon.

The management team will then work inwards until they reach the city centre – which will not be affected.

Phase one will see about 3,250 lights on main traffic roads being switched off, with 4,750 lights on residential streets darkened during the second phase.

Concerns about more crime emerged during a public consultation earlier this year, from groups such as Meanwood-based Community Action and Support Against Crime (CASAC).

However, the City Council said the scheme will be closely monitored and the lights could be turned back if crime levels or road safety are adversely affected,

A partnership between the council, emergency services, crime reduction, community safety and road safety representatives has carried out risk assessments on which areas to be switched off.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for the economy and development, said the primary reason behind the switch-off is to reduce costs and carbon emissions but stressed road safety and the impact on crime remain of “utmost importance”.

He added: “It is important to say we do have the flexibility to turn the lights back on again if major problems arise; we do hope though that will not be necessary.”

The council has posted more information for residents on its website – www.leeds.gov.uk/sles.