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Street lights switch off: People are afraid to walk in the dark

County and district councillor Angela Newton to chair scrutiny panel. SG070917-131TW
County and district councillor Angela Newton to chair scrutiny panel. SG070917-131TW

A Spalding pensioner, who collected nearly 300 signatures on a petition opposing the midnight street lights switch off, says people are afraid to walk in the dark and live in fear of break-ins.

Pat Barnett (82) believes an attempted break-in at her home happened because her street was in darkness, and uncovered stories about burglaries – including one where £1,000 was taken – as she visited homes in five streets with her petition.

Mrs Barnett said intruders don’t realise the damage they do to residents’ peace of mind.

She said: “They really frighten you. I go to bed with my lounge light on but I am not comfortable. I haven’t been comfortable since they switched the street lights off.

“You look out of the windows and it’s like looking at a blackboard. It just feels so awful, you feel totally isolated.”

She’s found other residents leaving house lights on because they are afraid, and says this involves younger people just as much as older people.

Residents told her they are afraid in the dark, either walking home or going to early morning shifts at work, and Mrs Barnett says many carry torches with the risk of being injured because they can’t see where they are stepping.

The active pensioner drives a car but now takes care not to arrive home after midnight.

She said: “I’ve still got to get out of my car and get to the front door.”

Mrs Barnett says the county council should pay more regard to the safety and security of residents – and put the street lights back on, even if it is alternate ones along the roads.

Spalding councillor Angela Newton will chair a county council scrutiny panel on the impact of authority’s part night street lighting policy and, on Saturday, residents can attend her surgery from 10.30am-11.30am at St John’s Church Lounge, Hawthorn Bank.

Coun Newton has already persuaded the county council to put street lights back on outside two developments built by town charity Spalding Town Husbands but says the authority has said “the available budget will not allow for a wholesale reversal of the changes”.

And the review will not look at places like a stretch of Bridge Road, Sutton Bridge, where street lights have been permanently switched off – leaving shift workers pedalling in darkness to jobs in Long Sutton.

Coun Newton toured her ward at 4am one day just to get a sense of how residents feel.

“The main thing people tell me is they feel less secure,” she said. “If they are out late at night, or even if they open the door to put a milk bottle out, they don’t feel as secure as they did before.”

Spalding councillor Gary Taylor says it would be better if the midnight-6am switch off was at least changed to 1am-5am to allow for people going home late or leaving early for work.

He says people of all ages are feeling vulnerable and unsafe, taxi drivers are unable to find people’s homes when streets are in darkness and residents are spending more on electricity through keeping house and security lights on at night.

Mrs Barnett’s petition was sent to the county council by MP John Hayes’s office.

January 5 is the deadline for public comments. You can comment on www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/streetlighting or call 01522 782070. You can also write to Democratic Services, Lincolnshire County Council, County Offices, Newland, Lincoln LN1 1YL.

• Tell the Spalding Guardian what you think by emailing jeremy.ransome@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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