RESIDENTS have reacted with shock and fear as street lights have been turned off by a council at night in a bid to save money.
Hampshire County Council started to turn off the lights on residential roads between 1am and 4am from this week.
The council says this will save £230,000 a year.
However residents have raised concerns that it will lead to increased crime and road accidents.
Anthony Holly, 74, from Billy Lawn Avenue, Leigh Park, said: ‘I stayed out late on Sunday night and came home about 1.45am and all the lights were off. It was like the back of beyond.
‘I knew nothing about it so rang SSE to report it as I thought it was a power cut. They said it was nothing to do with them and that it was a council matter.
‘The lights were off all the way to Langstone Harbour. There are some busy streets.
‘I don’t think it’s a good idea. Leigh Park is a lovely place, I have lived here for about 50 years, but there is a lot of vandalism, crime, break-ins and drugs. There are people smoking weed all over the estate, wing mirrors getting snapped off and even a knifing. Having roads in darkness will only make it worse. People will take advantage of it.’
Jordon Green, 19, from Widley, has started a petition to get the council to reconsider the decision.
He said: ‘I feel like it is a serious thing the council is doing. It is putting people’s safety at risk.
‘We are in a high crime area – someone got shot not long ago. This will mean that eye-witnesses will not come forward as they will not be able to see.
‘It will also encourage crime. People will think they can get away with it as no-one can see it.’
To sign Jordon’s petition go to change.org/p/alan-mak-make-the-town-safe-again
The decision was made by the authority to turn the lights off last October following a consultation which garnered 5,444 residents’ responses and 141 from organisations such as businesses and schools.
More than two-thirds of responses were in favour of turning the lights off for three to fours hours at night.
Chief Supt Tony Rowlinson, who oversees neighbourhood policing delivery in the Hampshire County Council area, said the police had worked with council on the proposals and that they would be monitoring the areas affected.
He said: ‘As the consultation report shows, more than two-thirds of respondents supported the move but we of course understand that some residents will have their concerns.
‘Our neighbourhood officers will, as they routinely do already, monitor crime in these areas and take action where necessary.
‘As the report suggests, should changes need to be made we will work with the council to look at how these can be effectively introduced, whether this is turning the lights back on or varying the times they are switched on and off.’
A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: ‘The electricity saved will reduce CO2 output from street lights in Hampshire by 720 tonnes each year, and, as demands on council services and budgets increase, save approximately £230,000 annually.
‘The introduction of part-night lighting follows a public consultation in 2018 to which over two thirds of the 5,444 residents and 141 organisations who responded supported a three to four-hour period during which street lights would be turned off in residential areas. Evidence from other local authorities and academic research was considered as part of the decision to introduce this change, and this showed no impact on incidences of crime or traffic accidents.
‘Part-night lighting is in operation in residential areas only, excluding those with road humps or roads with lighting adjacent to pedestrian crossings. Therefore, this does not include A, B and C class roads, or routes with similar traffic numbers, or those where serious accidents have been recorded at night-time. It does not include principal routes to railway stations, side roads adjacent to signalised junctions with pedestrian crossings, subways, subway approaches, illuminated traffic signs, Belisha beacons or town centres.
‘Also, it does not apply to some street lights owned by parish councils, district councils, housing associations, Highways England or the Ministry of Defence.’
Full details are available at hants.gov.uk/transport/roadmaintenance/streetlighting/part-night-lighting