The Labour Party in Kent knows, as we develop our manifesto for the Kent County Council elections next May, that spending will have to be reduced for certain services. However I believe that turning of street lights across the county between the hours of midnight and 5am to save money is unacceptable.
The Conservative Cabinet reported that it was ‘pleased’ people who took part in the consultation on the budget proposals (422 people out of 1.2million) saw turning off street lighting was the most acceptable way to save money. The savings would be around £600k – not an insignificant sum but compared to what the council wants to save, it is not a significant amount.
The consultation also revealed strong concerns about the impact turning street lights off would have on community safety and levels of crime. I share these concerns and they should take priority over potential savings.
We all know the effect losing the light from one street light has to our streets when a bulb is awaiting replacement – imagine that for streetlights all across the county at the times when we need it most; walking back from the train station, your local pub or from work. I certainly would not feel anywhere near as safe walking any distance in such levels of darkness and these concerns have come up time and time again when discussing this issue on the doorstep with residents in Swale East – I am sure their concerns will be shared across the county.
Warwickshire County Council took the decision to turn their street lights off between the hours of midnight and 5:30am – after just one week tragically an eighteen year old student was killed after a collision with a taxi whilst crossing the road. Taxi drivers are calling for the council to reverse their decision as they are reporting such instances are due to their peripheral vision being affected by the lack of light.
Kent County Council must not risk the safety of our residents by turning the street lights off; the relatively small savings are far outweighed by the effects turning street lights off would have on community safety.
An e-petition has been created here and we would appreciate if you could sign it to put pressure on KCC to no long consider turning our street lighting off.
By Ashley Wise, Sittingbourne & Sheppey Labour Party Youth Officer and candidate for Swale East.