Talks over street lights
Six recommendations including better communication and creating a list of exemption sites have been revealed in a draft report assessing the impact of Lincolnshire County Council’s controversial decision to switch off tens of thousands of street lights at night.
More than half of Lincolnshire’s 68,000 street lights were reverted to a ‘part-night’ lighting system, saving the authority £1.7million a year. The system means that they are switched off between midnight and dawn.
More than 5,000 residents responded to a county council survey, with three-quarters describing the changes as negative or extremely negative.
A scrutiny panel consisting of county councillors from across Lincolnshire was set up in October 2017, and was tasked with reviewing the impact of the policy and making recommendations to the council’s executive.
Six months later, the panel has produced a draft report outlining its suggestions.
The first proposed recommendation is for Lincolnshire Police to review and update a street lighting crime data report on an annual basis.
The draft report also suggests a communications strategy is created to change public perception about the switch-off and reduce their fears of a rise in crime.
Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership is also recommended to produce an annual report capturing data on street lighting levels as part of a road safety analysis.
The fourth recommendation is for the executive to consider a list of exemption sites and include an additional exemption for community public access defibrillator sites where requested by local communities.
Holiday accommodation areas are also set to be considered as exemption sites.
The final recommendation is for the executive to consider the county council develops an “appropriate protocol” to enable communities to support the upgrading of street lighting to LED and reinstated to full-night lighting where required and on request as part of routine maintenance.
In the report, committee chairman Coun Angela Newton said: “The scrutiny panel acknowledges that fears about public safety and crime levels were a key theme highlighted throughout the review and it is recommended that crime rates and fears about safety/crime are continued to be reviewed over the coming years.
“However, the evidence received as part of this review shows little evidence to suggest night time crime has significantly increased.
“In addition, the panel recommends additional work is undertaken to review, improve and communicate more effectively with the public to support greater awareness and clarity of the messages in relation to the concerns highlighted around crime rates.”
The report has now been passed to the overview and scrutiny management board, which will meet on April 26. The report and recommendations will then be sent on to the council’s executive for its June meeting.
Council leader Martin Hill has previously said the policy would not be reversed but may be tweaked in certain areas.