AN AMBULANCE crew had to rely on torchlight to carry a seriously-ill woman out of her home because Canvey’s streetlights were turned off.

Paramedics were called to a home in The Ridings shortly before midnight after the woman suffered a stroke.

They arrived on the lit street at 11.58pm, but by the time they came to carry the woman to the ambulance the street – along with much of the rest of Essex – had been plunged into darkness by Essex County Council’s controversial midnight switch-off.

It was so dark, the crew had to ask the woman’s relatives to light their way with torches.

The woman has asked not to be named, but her brother-in-law, Dennis Frost, said he felt County Hall needed to behave more responsibly.

He has written to the council and to Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris about what happened.

He said: “When Essex County Council made the decision to turn the lights off, did it do a risk assessment?

“It has no right to put people in jeopardy.

“The ambulance crew was great, but I had to hold the torch for the crew while my sister-inlaw was moved from the house to the ambulance in a wheelchair.”

The woman is now recovering at home.

National campaigns have highlighted the important of stroke victims getting urgent treatment and Mr Frost said the delay had been frustrating.

He added: “I wanted to get her away to the hospital as soon as possible, but we were held up because of the complete darkness.

“It isn’t good enough and Essex County Council needs to understand that.”

The woman’s daughter, Mandy Hayhoe, 32, who also lives the Ridings, said she was furious her mother had to be moved under such conditions.

She added: “I couldn’t believe it.

How can the ambulance staff do their job properly in such conditions?

It’s terrible.”

Dave Blackwell, who leads the Canvey Island Independent Party group on Castle Point Council, said he had been inundated with e-mails since the lights started going out, almost two months ago.

This latest incident, on March 11, showed how serious the situation was, he said.

He added: “It’s a joke. The thought that residents are now having to help the emergency services, because of Essex County Council’s shortcomings is absurd.

“The resident’s daughter actually said the situation would have been laughable if it hadn’t been so serious.”

Mr Blackwell has also been contacted by another islander who claimed a taxi in which he was riding was almost involved in a head-on collision in the foggy conditions.

Essex County Council has decided to turn off streetlights between midnight and 5am every night to save money. In Castle Point, it expects to save £64,000 a year.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “We are working closely with the emergency services on the issue of part-night lighting.

“We will consider any representation which is made to us by the ambulance service or the hospital.”