Hertfordshire County Council set to extend street lights policy

Hertfordshire's street lights may be left on until 1am. Picture: Danny Loo.

Hertfordshire's street lights may be left on until 1am. Picture: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire County Council could be set to tweak its street lights policy – but opposition councillors have insisted it has still not gone far enough.

Critics previously claimed that the current approach, which sees lights turned off at midnight, has contributed to rising crime – although that link has been dismissed by police chiefs.

However, the local authority’s Highways and Environment Cabinet Panel last week agreed to recommend progressively dimming the lights from 9pm before turning them off at 1am.

They would also come on at 5am – an hour earlier than at present – and remain lit until dawn.

Liberal Democrat councillors, who oppose the part-night lighting policy, claimed the extension still falls short – but their counter proposal to keep lights on until 2am was rejected.

County councillor Nigel Quinton said: “It is extremely depressing that the Conservative-led county council remains so resistant to sensible and proportional attempts to improve things locally for our residents.

“Those arriving late at night at our rail stations, or working night shifts at the QEII, want to be able to walk along lit streets.”

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HCC began the move over the LED lighting in 2014 as part of a drive to cut costs and reduce energy consumption, with around 67,000 units already replaced.

Mr Quinton added: “It is ridiculous that now we have the technology to make better use of our street lighting we are not allowed to do so.”

The 1am change has already been piloted around the county, including in Stevenage’s Chancellors Road and Ripon Road.

Councillor Robin Parker, who represents Chells in Stevenage, said officers have not yet said how much it would cost to keep low-level lighting on all night.

He added: “In the winter when people rely much more on street lighting, I get lots of requests from local residents for lights to be left on after midnight.

“Apart from footpaths (not pavements), I have no power to do this and all my requests for it to HCC have been refused because of the Tories’ policy.”

Cllr Parker said that he will continue trying to get lighting hours extended as long as residents want it.

Some locals have claimed LED light levels are worse than traditional sodium lights but, according to the panel’s report, dimming LEDs can make an area appear brighter because of their light distribution.

Officers wrote: “The panel members that attended the sites commented that the contrast between the light and dark patches appeared to be not so harsh.

“They hardly noticed the change when the dimming occurred and were satisfied that they could see and be seen when the lights were dimmed down by 80 per cent.”

The panel’s recommendation to adopt the change will be put to the HCC Cabinet next month.