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Streets will be plunged into darkness in bid to save £1m a year
8:00am Wednesday 4th September 2013 in Echo News
STREET lights will start being switched off across parts of south Essex from November in what has been branded a “disgusting” attempt to save money.
Essex County Council has revealed a timetable to switch lightsoff in residential streetsand the county’s busiest roads between midnight and 5am.
The big switch-off is an attempt to save £1million a year, but the council has already spent £6.6million to fit sensors on the lights so they can be switched off.
The proposals mean lights in Basildon willbe switchedoff from November 1, while Castle Point will be affected from December.
Southend will not be affected.
The countycouncil said the proposal followed a successful trial in Maldon and Uttlesford districts.
It claimed levels of crime were not affected, but outraged residents and councillors said it was an invitation for criminals in south Essex towns.
Kerry Smith, Ukipcountycouncillor for Westley Heights, in Basildon, said: “It is disgusting.
The council has done trials in the most affluent areas, but most burglaries happen in places like Basildon. It’s ludicrous.
“If the county is going to do this, we want a refund on our council tax. Give us back our money.”
The county council has sent letters to district and parish councils as well as emergency services as part of a consultation.
Keith Barber helped collect more than 1,000 signatures on a petition in Castle Point to try to stop the switch-off.
He said: “There are about 120 daysa yearwhen there is no moon and it is pitch black. There are a lot of people who work at night and will have to use torches. The pavements in Canvey are not good, either. Then there are people who go nightclubbing. They could get on public transport in a nice well-lit area because areas with businesses will remain lit up, but then will have to walk home.
“It’s a typical attitude that businesses are considered important but when it comes towherepeople live, the council couldn’t care less.
“It beggars belief they are happy to put the safety of individuals at risk.”
But Essex highways boss Rodney Bass said: “I am pleased we are moving forward with the extension of our part-night lightingscheme, whichwill leadto significant reductions to our energy consumption.”
The deadline for consultation responses is September 27.
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