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Last-ditch bid to halt Norwich street light turn off

PUBLISHED: 12:04 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:26 02 July 2010

County councillors are pressing for a rethink on plans to switch off Norwich street lights

County councillors are pressing for a rethink on plans to switch off Norwich street lights

Sarah Hall

A last-ditch bid will be made next week to stop controversial plans to switch off thousands of street lights around Norwich after midnight.

Norfolk County Council wants to turn off up to 7,800 lights in Norwich between midnight and 5am as part of proposals to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

A last-ditch bid will be made next week to stop controversial plans to switch off thousands of street lights around Norwich after midnight.

Norfolk County Council wants to turn off up to 7,800 lights in Norwich between midnight and 5am as part of proposals to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

The proposal sparked anger n Norwich, where critics warned it would lead to an increase in crime, or at the very least, an increased fear of crime.

There was less opposition from more rural areas and Norfolk County Council last month agreed to the proposal, which will see 27,000 street lights across Norfolk partially switched off over the next three years to save £167,000 a year and reduce County Hall's carbon footprint by 1,000 tonnes a year.

The council agreed some streets would not be suitable for the switch off, including main roads, streets with CCTV, ones with traffic calming and places where police could show there would be an increase in crime without lighting.

However, opponents called in the decision at a meeting of the council's cabinet scrutiny committee because they were not happy with how the exemptions would be decided and what level of consultation there would be with people affected.

At a meeting of county council cabinet on Monday the cabinet will be asked to take on board an amendment to the agreed policy, which was put forward at the scrutiny meeting by John Dobson, Conservative councillor for Dersingham.

That amendment, agreed by councillors on the scrutiny panel, approves the delegation of the decision on individual streets to Mike Jackson, the director of environment, transport and development and Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, after “due consultation with local people through their elected representatives.”

But Andrew Boswell, leader of the Green group, who originally called the proposal into scrutiny in partnership with James Joyce, Liberal Democrat councillor for Reepham, said he would rather have seen a cross-party panel set up to decide exemptions.

And Bert Bremner, Labour county councillor for Norwich's university division and a fierce critic of the plans, intends to attend the meeting and call for a halt to the proposals.

Mr Bremner says County Hall's own car park lights are left on all night and says there seem to be no plans to switch them off even though they are far more powerful than those of the residential lights the county council is planning to switch off.

He says officers have told him they are kept on because the car park is open 24 hours a day all year round, has public cycleways and footpaths, has had problems with prostitutes, drug dealers and 'courting couples', while staff going to the social club, cleaners, social workers and maintenance staff need lights on.

Mr Bremner said reasons such as those were exactly why lights in the city should be kept on and said: “The Conservative controlled county council could stop this madness now, and look at the wealth of brilliant ideas available which would save much more carbon and money, and keep our lights on.”

What do you think of the proposals to switch off the street lights? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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