Last chance to keep Norwich street lights on
Thousands of Norwich families will this week be given one final chance to prevent their street lights from being switched off after midnight.
Letters were dropping through doors in places such as Mile Cross and Catton Grove from today as part of Norfolk County Council's proposals to switch off up to 5,900 street lights in Norwich. And that represents the final chance for families to convince council bosses not to turn off the lights between 12am and 5am on their street.
The council says it will save �167,000 and cut carbon emissions by not keeping the lights on so long, with up to 27,000 going out in the county.
John Birchall, spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: 'We have worked with local city and county councillors and the police to refine the list of streets that appear suitable for part night lighting.
'Letters will be going out to residents in the north of the city, including streets considered suitable in Mile Cross, most of Catton Grove and part of Sewell electoral division – west of Sprowston Road.
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'Only people living in streets where part night lighting is proposed will receive a letter. Those that do then have a chance to put forward reasons why their street should be exempt.
'If valid objections are lodged, a final decision will be taken by the director of environment, transport and development and the cabinet member for travel and transport.'
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The county council, which is having to make �155m in savings over the next three years, says some streets will be spared if families can make a case for exemptions to be applied.
But with the police having already been consulted, there are unlikely to be too many more streets where the lights will stay on.
It is likely that the first switch-off of lights after midnight in Norwich will happen in March, but Mr Birchall added: 'The date of conversion will depend upon the street light modernisation and maintenance programme put forward by Amey, the county council's contractors.'
As reported in the Evening News, a thousand lights within the inner ring road will not now be part of the switch-off, after initial talks with stakeholders showed their were very few street lights suitable for switching off in that area.
But the rest of Norwich has been split into four sections, with Norwich North getting its letters this week and Norwich South, West and East following later this year.
Lights have already been switched off after midnight in some other parts of the county, including in Wymondham and Attleborough, with little fuss.
But the proposals have proven controversial in parts of Norwich, with critics claiming it will make people more fearful at night.
And Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, still believes the county council have got it wrong. He said you cannot compare turning out lights in market towns to an urban centre such as Norwich. Mr Morphew said: 'We have to keep the pressure up, because this proposal is just madness. A couple of weeks ago we had people sliding around on icy streets. Imagine how much worse that would be in the pitch black.
'There seems to be not an ounce of common sense in these proposals. It's not creating much in the way of savings and could lead to extra costs elsewhere.
'Norwich just isn't comparable to market towns. We have much higher crime rates and we know a lot of that happens where people know they cannot be seen.
'We have spent years trying to design out places where people can conceal themselves to there's fewer places for people who want to create mischief.
'These can only be decisions which are made by people out of touch with the reality of living in Norwich.
'They say that after midnight there's not many people around and that's just not true. You have people who work in healthcare, for the emergency services, in the entertainment industry and even in retail, with more places opening for 24 hours these days.
'You also have the people who like to use the city for its night-time economy, who might be put off because of the fear of coming home to a street with no street lights on.'
Norfolk police said there had been no noticeable surge in crime in other parts of the county where lights have gone out after midnight.
Superintendent Gavin Tempest said: 'Norfolk Constabulary are in regular contact with the county council during the roll out of part-night lighting.
'This is a phased process and there is close dialogue with Safer Neighbourhood Teams before the decision to switch off street lights is made.
'Areas which have experienced anti-social behaviour or are monitored by CCTV are not included in this and it only applies in areas which do not suffer from crime.
'So far there has been no noticeable change in crime or disorder in the areas where this has been started.'
• When the Evening News obtains a list of the streets which are earmarked for the switch-off we will put it online at www.eveningnews24.co.uk, so keep checking the website.
• What do you think of the proposals to switch off the street lights after midnight? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email email@example.com