THOUSANDS of street lamps on residential roads are to be dimmed even further at night to save money.
But the move has sparked concerns that some neighbourhoods will be plunged into darkness.
Conservative Councillor Sean Woodward, who heads environment at Hampshire County Council, approved the proposals yesterday and it will affect street lights across Havant, Gosport, Fareham, East Hampshire and Winchester districts.
The move, to come into force later this year, will save the authority £50,000 a year.
Dimming has been used since 2012 and the current regime is 25 per cent dimming from switch-on until midnight, 50 per cent from midnight until 5am and then back to 25 per cent until switch-off.
The new set-up will see a 35 per cent reduction from switch-on to midnight, 60 per cent from midnight until 5am and back to 35 per cent until switch-off.
Beryl Francis, a Labour councillor who represents Warren Park in Havant, was concerned.
‘It’s not a good idea,’ she said.
‘It’s dark already. If its gets any darker there are going to be more puddles of darkness.’
Richard Brown, also a Labour councillor, said dimming on major routes might be a good idea, but was concerned about small cul-de-sacs in Leigh Park being plunged into darkness.
He said: ‘That’s probably the only light they have got, especially for the elderly and it might make them feel that little bit safer.’
A small proportion of lights are energy-efficient Cosmopolis lamps and these will continue to be dimmed at 40 per cent.
The report that went before Cllr Woodward said there was the possibility of ‘further evaluation of a gradual dimming of lighting as part of considering opportunities for further energy savings in the future’.
Some authorities, such as Kent, have piloted switching lights off.
The report adds: ‘There is a general assumption that crime is more prevalent in areas where there is less street lighting, but this is not reflected in crime statistics suggesting that it is the fear of crime that increases rather than crime itself.’