3:26pm Thursday 6th February 2014
By Tom Edwards
A DECISION to switch off 17,000 street lights across Worcestershire has been given the green light by politicians today.
The county council's Conservative cabinet has agreed that two out of every three lights should be switched off - despite calls to go further.
As your Worcester News revealed on Tuesday, from April workers will start taking out 1,000 lights a month and replace them with special 'timed' dimmers that go out from midnight to 6am.
The council operates 52,000 lights but wants to save £500,000 a year on carbon emissions.
During a meeting of the cabinet today, Worcestershire's Liberal Democrats said more should go off.
The total bill for lighting across Worcestershire costs taxpayers £2.6 million a year.
Councillor Liz Tucker, Lib Dem group leader, said: "I think you need to do more and do it faster - why go so slow?
"One third of them is pretty modest, while we'd all like the street lights to be on if you look at the other decisions that are being taken, I think it would be less painful to switch off more street lights than cut other services."
The Conservative leadership said they saw no reason to rush the project, insisting they wanted to ease any concerns from the community.
Councillor John Campion, the cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "We can't do it in a 'chop off' fashion, we need to take our communities with us.
"This is about doing it in a measured and sensible way."
Lights on all main roads, bends and junctions to housing estates will be kept on, as well as areas with higher crime rates.
It will be reviewed on a regular basis with West Mercia Police, and the council say it will take around 18 months to two years to finish the project.
Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "It will take a period of time but we'll get there as soon as we can."
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure said: "We've taken a number of years to move to a sensible, proportional plan.
"People in a lot of urban estates do understand that after 12 'o'clock there are very few people moving about - this is one of those areas where I think people understand reductions need to be made."
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