Anger at Herts County Council street-light swich-off

FEARS about public safety have prompted a London Colney man to call on Herts County Council to halt plans to turn off street lights in the district from next month.

Anthony Puddephatt of Perham Way has branded the proposals to switch up to 80 per cent of the district’s 13,300 street lights to part-night operation – turning them off from midnight until 6am – as a waste of money and urged others to oppose the switch.

He said: “County council haven’t really thought it out, they’ve just looked at some figures and decided it’s a good idea to save them some money but not considered the impact on people. The amount they say they are saving is negated by the millions it is costing them to switch it off and it’s crazy that more people aren’t angry about this ridiculous idea.

“It’s not very safe and it’s giving muggers and rapists the perfect opportunity. What about those who work late hours like nurses or those coming back from a night out? They are going to be vulnerable.”

Anthony said he was concerned that many residents were unaware of the proposals and wouldn’t notice until the changes were already in place: “The people who make these decisions live in a different world. What about the opinion of local people? Does this not count?

“We pay a huge amount of council tax in this area and we get little say on where it goes.”

Anthony described the move as a backward step and said he had spoken with the men working on the ground to convert the street lights and they also thought the plans were “nonsense”.

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A concerned mum also wrote to the Herts Advertiser to express her concerns about the changes after struggling to be seen at a pedestrian crossing near Beechwood Avenue in the early evening. She said: “I had to wait while 10 cars whizzed past, without stopping before I could safely cross. I fear for the safety of children and others trying to navigate roads in the poor light.”

The Liberal Democrats have also criticised the “inflexible” proposals, which will see street lights in the district switched over from February and continue throughout the year.

Some of the lights will be converted so that they only switch on from dusk to around midnight and, during the winter, in the morning rush hour. Lights in areas where there is significant pedestrian activity after midnight and busier road junctions will remain on throughout the night.

District and county councillor Chris White said the plans, which are being implemented across the county and began in some areas in June last year, did not take into account local circumstances. He said: “There are some areas which have pedestrians until much later than midnight – commuters returning from an evening in London, for example – and there it would make sense to keep the lights on much later. There is little need, on the other hand, to keep busy roads lit which have no footpath or pedestrians, when the cars using them can easily use their headlamps instead.”

Last February, the county council agreed to spend �4.5 million to introduce part-night lighting across Hertfordshire. The aim is to save �1.3 million annually in running costs as well as reduce the county’s carbon footprint. At the time, executive member for highways and transport, Stuart Pile, admitted that it would concern some residents but said they had looked at findings from other councils around the country which had already introduced similar schemes.

He said: “I can reassure residents that the evidence from other areas in which these measures have been introduced show that levels of crime and numbers of traffic accidents do not increase.”