Lincolnshire

Councillors call for changes to Lincolnshire County Council’s street lights switch-off

Councillors have suggested changes to Lincolnshire County Council’s policy on street lights in the wake of a survey where three quarters of respondents criticised the night-time switch-off.

Members of a county council scrutiny committee met in Lincoln on Thursday, February 22, alongside other councillors to share their experiences of the switch-off and to gauge public opinion.

The council ran a survey from November 17, 2017 to January 5, 2018 asking for residents’ views on the changes, and to allow for feedback on any areas which could be exempt from the switch-off.

Over half of Lincolnshire’s 68,000 street lights were reverted to a ‘part-night’ lighting system, 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.

Just over 5,000 Lincolnshire residents responded to the survey, with three quarters saying that they felt the changes had a negative or extremely negative impact.

By contrast, just 12.7% of respondents across the county and 14.3% in Lincoln described the changes as positive or extremely positive.

Some of the councillors suggested tweaking the policy in areas of high levels of shift work, a large student population and where there had been a perceived increase in crime.

Speaking in the meeting, Labour member Councillor Robert Parker, who represents Carholme ward in Lincoln, 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.

“Is it like this in the West End of London? What are we going to do about it?”

In the survey, a significant number of respondents explicitly mentioned work when outlining why they were opposed to the changes.

Conservative Councillor Paul Skinner, representing Boston Coastal, did not want the policy overhauling, but said that the main feedback he had received was focused on shift workers walking or cycling in the dark.

He said: “Generally, there’s not been a lot of negativity despite the results of the survey.

“There’s quite a lot of people who work on the land and at Boston Pilgrim Hospital.

“Normally people are going to work at around 5.30am and the feedback I’ve had is that it may be affecting people who walk and cycle to work.”

The report added that a number of residents raised fears about a perception in increased crime levels along the Lincolnshire coast since the part-night lighting was brought in.

Residents across the county also raised road safety concerns, for motorists, pedestrians and emergency services.

Some added that they felt the lighting changes had increased a general sense of social isolation and “placed a curfew” on some residents.

Councillor Nigel Pepper, also a Conservative, attended the meeting despite not being a member of the committee.

He said that there had been spikes in crime and anti-social behaviour in Crowland, adding that crime reduction advice was to increase lighting around houses.

He added: “We’ve had serious problems in Crowland.”

However, his Conservative colleague Councillor Clio Lyndon Perraton-Williams, who is also not a member of the committee, had a different perspective.

Councillor Perraton-Williams, who represents Scotter Rural, said: “When I speak to people in my division I’ve only got positive responses. No-one has been negative.”

The next stages will see the committee discuss their recommendations which will be put forward to the council’s executive.

Council leader Martin Hill has previously said that the council would not reverse the policy, but may tweak it in certain areas.

In October 2017, he said: “We promised a review of that policy but I’ll not mislead you. There’ll be no chance that all those street lights we’ve switched off will come back on again.”