The Lincolnshire county councillor in charge of highways has said he is happy with how the street lights switch-off has been implemented, while urging people to not whip up fear and misunderstanding about the changes.
Councillor Richard Davies claimed there was a need to get past “fake politics” which meant that some residents in the county were scared about going out at night.
More than half of Lincolnshire’s 68,000 street lights were reverted to a ‘part-night’ lighting system from 2016, saving the council £1.7 million.
This means that they are switched off between midnight (and as early as 10pm in some areas) until dawn.
Three quarters of respondents to a county council survey said that the changes were negative or extremely negative.
Councillors scrutinising the impact of the switch-off have suggested exemptions could be made, especially in areas with high levels of shift work.
Councillor Davies said: “I think one of the things that would have been useful is being able to get the message across quicker and sooner.
“As a result, what’s happened is a lot of people have taken to social media in particular and said things that are demonstrably not true.
“One of the reasons people are at times feeling scared to go out in the evening is because there’s this false perception that we’re turning the street lights off at 8pm and anybody on their way home from the bingo is vulnerable to someone jumping out with a knife between their teeth. That simply isn’t the case.
“I think what we need to do is get past this fake politics that we sometimes get in local government of people whipping up fear and misunderstanding.”
Councillor Davies also rejected claims that street lights needed to be on at all times in areas where there was a high student population.
Speaking previously in a scrutiny meeting on the impact of changes to street lighting, Labour member Councillor Robert Parker said: “Carholme has a big night-time economy and a big student population.
“We have a situation where people are going into town to enjoy themselves and others to serve them in bars. 10pm to 5am is a highly active time in Carholme.
“Here we are in the 21st century in a modern, dynamic city like Lincoln and we can’t put the street lights on at night in the winter.”
In answering this, Councillor Davies said: “I think the idea that students in particular are scared of the dark is really patronising. I think the idea that every corner of their walk home needs to be lit is untrue.
“The reality is we have to deal in facts and the facts say that crime and anti-social behaviour hasn’t gone up as a result of the street lighting changes.”