On Jan 1st next year the County Council is planning to introduce ‘part-night’ lighting. Streetlights will be turned off from midnight until 5 am . You can find more information here on the County Council website, But for simplicity we are copying a lot of information from the County Council website onto onlinefocus (these are the County’s words, not ours). As you will see below, Lib Dem County Councillors think the County Council should be looking at other lighting technology instead of just turning the lights off.
Why move to part-night lighting
To save money and reduce our carbon emissions and light pollution, we will be turning off some of our street lights at night – this is called part-night street lighting. This involves some lights being switched off for five hours over night, between 12am and 5am.
Essex County Council has been running a pilot part-night lighting scheme in Maldon and Uttlesford since early 2007. Street lights are switched off between 12 midnight and 5am, with some exceptions such as town centres, key road junctions and accident cluster sites. Since the pilot scheme began there has been no increase in recorded crime or road collisions in the two districts. The pilot has also delivered energy savings of 20% (approx £70,000 per annum).
Why are our lights being ‘turned off’?
Essex County Council is changing from all night lighting to part night lighting on certain street lights. This is in accordance with ECC exception criteria to help reduce energy consumption and light pollution. It is proposed to turn the lights off between midnight and 5am.
Can Essex County Council legally turn off lights?
Yes, Essex County Council is empowered as a lighting authority to light roads which in their opinion should be lit, but the Council is not duty bound to provide lighting in any road.
Why can’t you only switch off every other light? (1 in 2)
This has been considered but will not enable the Council to meet its objectives of reducing energy consumption and light pollution.
Why not replace the lighting with new technology such as solar powered lighting?
New technology like LED’s and solar power is currently not suitable for highway lighting in Essex as it is uneconomical. However Essex County Council will continue to monitor this.
Can I pay to keep the street light outside my house on?
No, part night lighting is to help reduce ECC’s energy consumption and light pollution.
Will I get a reduction in my council tax?
No however this initiative may help to reduce any future council tax increases.
When will the part night lighting start in my area?
This will be carried out in a rolling program following consultation with the Borough, District, Town and Parish Councils. Details will be published accordingly.
Why my street?
All areas of the county are being affected. The general presumption will be that all ECC owned street lights will be altered to part night operation unless covered by the exception criteria.
What are the exception criteria?
Major lit inter urban dual carriageway traffic routes.
Conflict sites e.g. roundabouts, lit by columns greater than 6m high.
Sites where street lights installed for accident remedial measures.
Town Centre type development where there is one or more of the following features:Main approaches to areas defined in the section above, where there is a mix of development between residential and commercial/industrial i.e. not exclusively residential.
High proportion of high security premises e.g. banks, jewellers etc.
High crime risk
High concentration of people at night such as Transport interchanges, nightclubs etc.
Sites where the police can demonstrate that there will be an increase in crime if the lights are switched off.
Remote footpaths and alleys linking residential streets.
Where there is a statutory requirement.
Where the configuration of street lighting columns is considered excessive, consideration is to be given to removing 1 in 2 lights with the remaining lights left on full night operation
What about resident safety?
ECC part night lighting pilot in Maldon & Uttlesford Districts has demonstrated that changing to part night lighting has had no adverse effect on resident safety.
What happens if there is an increase in crime/accident levels where part night lighting is in operation?
Essex Police can ask for lights to be turned back on if they demonstrate that there has been a significant increase in crime due to the introduction of part night lighting. Individual/public requests will not be considered. Although, Crime is not expected to increase due to the scheme. Crime statistics recorded during the trial showed no significant change due to the installation of part-night lighting in the two districts. The number of offences occurring between 11.30pm and 5.30am actually dropped by 14% in Maldon and by 12.6% in Uttlesford. Since the pilot scheme began there has also been no demonstrable increase in road collisions. If you do have concerns about this please contact the Police.
What about people who are partially sighted, elderly, start work early or finish late?
The introduction of part night lighting is not based on personal circumstances. Part night lighting will be implemented in accordance with the exception criteria.
If a member of the public has a fall in a part night lit street during the hours when the lights are off will their claim be treated differently?
No, all claims are treated the same.
What happens if the cost of my car/home insurance increases due to part night lighting?
This is a matter between the person and their insurance company.
How can requests be made to turn lights back on?
If you feel your road is covered by the exception criteria please email or write to the Essex Highways street lighting team at:
Street Lighting Team, Essex Highways, PO Box 11 County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1LX
Have the emergency services been consulted?
The emergency services will be consulted about the plans to install part night lighting and their comments will be carefully considered.
In my area the street lights go out at midnight, how come other lighting is still on at this time?
Not all lighting is owned and maintained by ECC, only ECC lighting is considered under the exception criteria.
Who do I contact for further information regarding part night lighting?
Please email Essex Highways street lighting team at email@example.com or write to Street Lighting Team, Essex Highways, PO Box 11, County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1LX.
Stephen Robinson , one of the Lib Dem County Councillors in Chelmsford has now ‘called-in’ the decision :
Essex County Council will review its plans to switch off street lights, following a “call in” request from Lib Dem Highways spokesman Cllr Stephen Robinson. The review will be at the Place Services Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 26th September, 10am at County Hall, Chelmsford. (When ready, the Agenda will be here.)
Most street lights in Chelmsford and Braintree are now switched off between Midnight and 5am. The Liberal Democrat Opposition is concerned about public safety and want consideration given to other lighting technology.
Stephen Robinson said, “We think that Essex CC should consider new-style, low-energy LED lights, lights controlled by movement sensors and other technology.
“We know that the council has to save money and should also reduce its carbon footprint. But LED lights would reassure the public and be a more effective kind of lighting.”
A petition backing calls for a review has been launched at http://signme.org.uk/860
The Cabinet Member for Highways, Cllr Rodney Bass, made the formal decision on 27 August and Lib Dem Stephen Robinson then used the Council’s official “Call In” procedure. This required Cllr Bass to meet with Cllr Robinson and Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee Cllr Simon Walsh.
Following their meeting on Tuesday 3rd September, Cllr Walsh agreed to Cllr Robinson’s request for street lighting to be the main item at a Committee meeting on 26th September. Cllr Bass agreed to attend to answer questions from councillors.
Cllr Robinson added, “Unfortunately, the Conservatives do not allow the public to speak at Essex County Council meetings. So, while anyone can attend the meeting, only Councillors can ask questions. I will request that a Task & Finish Group is formed, which then CAN take evidence from the public and technical experts.”
Essex County Council plans to switch off lights across the rest of the Essex over the next few months.