STREET light switch offs across the Rochford district are a “recipe for disaster” according to concerned residents in the area.

Selected lights have been turned off across the district from midnight to 5am as Essex County Council looks to save money and energy.

The plan has been rolled out across the county after successful trials in Maldon and Uttlesford in 2007, which saved the county council £70,000 a year. It hit Rochford on January 26.

Lights remain on at key road junctions, town centres and accident cluster sites, with predominantly residential areas being plunged into darkness.

Linda Kendall, chairman of the Rayleigh Action Group, said: “It is a recipe for disaster.

“Lower Road in Hullbridge is really dangerous even with the lights on, but they have still turned them off.

“Rayleigh railway station car park is terrifying at the best of times, let alone to come off a train in the pitch black. Everyone is saying we should carry torches, which is a ludicrous situation.”

Chris Black, Liberal Democrat councillor for Downhall and Rawreth, said there were dangers concerning hitting a pothole in an unlit road. He said: “Residents are unhappy about it.

“The council has a plan of keeping lights on where there are traffic humps, but potholes are more dangerous when you cannot see them.

“I am not happy about it. The council should be going to LED lighting, like Southend, if it wants to save energy.”

The move has provoked a strong reaction on social media as well, with the Rayleigh Action Group’s Facebook page getting a lot of complaints.

Rochford resident Ben Bartlett said: “In the real world, people need the street lights to function throughout the night. Not everyone is tucked up in bed from midnight to 5am. The council needs to think of everyone, not just what suits it.”

The police have said it is too early to comment on whether the switch-off has resulted in any change in crime figures.