Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Bucks turns street lights off permanently

Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) is upholding its decision to turn streetlights off permanently in 40 locations in the county.

The decision has been made off the back of a three-year trial, during which streetlights across 46 locations countywide were switched off. Overall a total of 1,627 lights will remain switched off as a result of the decision.

The council openly admitted that the trial “was not intended to look at or use any alternative ways of keeping the lights on, even if, after initial additional capital expenditure, these might have resulted in future savings both in terms of energy used and ongoing costs. Instead the trial was intended to switch off lights which were no longer seen as an essential requirement for road safety or traffic management reasons”.
The council further justified its decision by stating that: “The lights that have now been switched off were provided many years ago for a variety of different reasons when alternatives to lighting were limited and these sites would not be considered a priority or necessity for street lighting today.”

However, resident comments that were submitted as part of the consultation suggest that the trial was not met with universal approval. One resident wrote in to say:  “I work in Oxford Road, Denham and use public transport. It is pitch black at 5pm when I leave the office and the bus driver can’t see us standing at the bus stop unless we wave our mobile phones. [It] feels unsafe if there alone. Why not switch the lights off at, say 9pm, when most people will have reached their destination?”

Hazelmere Parish council responded to the consultation by saying that it “strongly and robustly” challenged any plans to keep lights switched off. “[The] road has seen a number of fatal accidents over the last few years and is well known to local people as an extremely dangerous stretch of road. Local people rely on street lighting for a variety of reasons – not simply road safety and the safety and comfort afforded by street lights is highly valued. Views should not be ignored, discounted nor underestimated.”

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