FAMILIES are living in “purgatory” and risk doing themselves serious harm because of the street lights switch-off in south Essex, it has been claimed.

Lynn Wood, of Middle Crockerford, on the 3/4 estate, Basildon, is furious Essex County Council did not take action to fix broken pavements, kerb stones and a dangerous broken manhole before plunging the estate into darkness between midnight and 5am.

She claims residents have to walk with their heads down to make sure they don’t trip up on the damaged roads.

Mrs Wood, 66, was furious when her dog, named Jack, cut his paw open last week, just days before he was due to show at Crufts.

She said: “How can they just turn a blind eye to the condition of the pavements and then turn the street lights off? The broken manhole cover has been like it for months and nothing has been done about it. Anyone could trip on that and hurt their ankle.

“We walk our dogs every day and have to keep them on a tight lead on the estate. We regularly show our dogs and have to carry things into the house after dark.

The other day one of my dogs cut its paw and there was blood gushing everywhere. They need to come out and fix the damage.”

Mrs Wood has challenged county councillor Rodney Bass, who is responsible for highways at County Hall, to spend a night on the estate to see for himself what it is like.

The majority of street lights in the borough have been switched off by County Hall in a bid to save £222,000 a year and cut carbon emissions.

Street lights in six estates in Pitsea and Basildon have been kept on after Basildon Council raised concerns over crime rates – however the 3/4 estate is not one of them.