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Fears of sex attacks when lights turn off
3:00pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in Echo News
COUNCILLORS fear sex attacks, burglaries and street crime could rise if street lights are turned off in Castle Point.
Home Office statistics for Maldon and Uttlesford, where Essex County Council switched off lights as part of a trial in 2007, showed overall crime fell, but more serious offences rise.
County Hall is now consulting over turning off street lights in Castle Point between midnight and 5am, in a bid to save £69,000.
But the borough council claims the move will put public safety at risk.
Canvey Independent Party councillor, Dave Blackwell, said: “Every resident who has come to me about this is frightened.
“There is real concern from people who work late shifts, such as nurses and careworkers, who are moving about late at night.”
Mr Blackwell slammed county hall for giving the borough just two weeks to respond to its consultation.
He said: “I just do not understand the rush, we are supposed to live in a democracy.”
Home office crime figures for Dunmow, in Uttlesford, show burglaries have risen from one in February 2011 to seven in February 2013.
Vehicle crime jumped from two in July 2011, to six in July 2013.
A report published by Essex County Council in August showed fear of crime in Maldon before street lights were switched off in 2006 was 49.7 per cent. The same survey carried out this year showed it as 67.7 per cent.
Conservative councillor Ray Howard said he had real concerns about turning out the lights on Canvey because of its flood risk and Control of Major Accident Hazards sites at Haven Road.
He said: “These are strong reasons why the lights should stay on in our district.
“I think we really need to look at making a special case for Castle Point. Turning off the lights just before Christmas, when people are going to be out late at night, is outrageous.”
Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday night, Conservative council leader, Pam Challis, raised concerns about elderly people in the borough.
She said: “We have a large elderly population in Castle Point who are often awake late night.
“Looking out at pitch black streets, will be very frightening for them.”
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