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Norwich street lights switch-off defended

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:04 02 July 2010

Sarah Hall

The level of consultation over controversial proposals to switch off thousands of street lights around Norwich between midnight and 5am has been defended by council leaders.

The level of consultation over controversial proposals to switch off thousands of street lights around Norwich between midnight and 5am has been defended by council leaders.

Norfolk County Council wants to turn out 27,000 street lights - including up to 7,800 in Norwich - after midnight over the next three years to save £167,000 a year and cut County Hall's carbon footprint by 1,000 tonnes a year.

Critics have said that would lead to an increase in crime, or at least the fear of crime, but the ruling Conservative group has insisted there will be exceptions to the switch off, including if streets have CCTV, traffic calming or police say turning lights out will lead to an increase in crime.

But questions have been asked about the process by which decisions will be made, with the original intention for decisions on individual streets, including exemptions, to be decided by Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation and Mike Jackson, County Hall's director of planning and transportation.

However after opposition councillors, through the cabinet scrutiny committee, raised concerns over the way that was being handled, it was agreed decisions would be made by Mr Gunson and Mr Jackson after due consultation with local people and their elected representatives.

At Monday's meeting Mr Gunson said: “I want to make absolutely clear that there will be very comprehensive street lighting consultation.

“It begins with stakeholders, such as district, parish councils, local members and safer neighbourhood teams getting consulted three months before any planned switch off.”

He said letters would also be sent out to householders a month before any work starts and said drafts of those letters had already been drawn up.

He said: “Everyone will be fully consulted. It is not a total switch off, as some people seem to be saying. Local representatives will be consulted but residents will be consulted directly.

“A great deal of effort has gone into making this process totally fair and transparent.”

Tim East, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Costessey, said: “Can I praise the cabinet scrutiny committee and the member for admitting his mistake in not taking this issue to public consultation.

“Mr Gunson has, rather belatedly, seen the light, it seems to me.”

What do you think of the plans to turn out street lights between midnight and 5am? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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