1:30pm Saturday 21st December 2013
By Ian Craig
STREET lights in Worcestershire will remain on during the long winter nights – as a safety group warns of the dangers of possible blackouts in a bid to save money.
In October, Worcestershire County Council revealed plans to cut street lighting in some side streets between midnight and 6am, with the cabinet set to consider the proposal in February.
The move, mirrored in counties across the country, has been slammed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), which says it will put people at risk.
However, Worcestershire County Council has reassured anyone out walking today – the shortest day of the year – that street lighting will be on to help them find their way.
The sun is expected to be up for only seven hours and 48 minutes, from 8.16am until 3.58pm.
Highways contract and programme manager at the county council, Nick Yarwood, said the proposal to switch off lights would affect one in three lights in side streets. “Main traffic routes would not be affected,” he said. “The county council aims to save half a million pounds in street lighting energy costs annually and this proposal is one of a number of actions that will be needed to achieve that saving.”
He said other plans also include converting many street lights to more cost-efficient white light and LED lanterns as well as dimming some on main routes after midnight.
"The volume of traffic and pedestrian travel on side streets after midnight is extremely low and streets would not be completely dark because the one third of lights that would remain on all night would be at key locations such as junctions on side streets,” he said.
The council carried out a trial in Droitwich earlier this year, in which it was found turning off some street lights had no impact on crime and residents were largely supportive of the plans.
RoSPA’s head of road safety Kevin Clinton said those out walking after dark should be careful to look where they are going, avoid poorly-lit areas, carry a mobile phone in case of emergency and wear high visibility clothing.
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