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Norwich councillors hit out after plea to keep streets light on are ignored

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 September 2011 | UPDATED: 07:53 19 September 2011

Green Party Norfolk County Councillor Marcus Hemsley.

Green Party Norfolk County Councillor Marcus Hemsley.

Archant Norfolk 2010

Norwich councillors have hit back at street light switch-off proposals after five roads they recommended for exemption from the money-saving plans failed to escape the cut.

Calls to preserve the post-midnight lighting for the streets, in the Larkman and Marlpit estates, were made to Norfolk County Council as part of a consultation over the proposals which will see more than 27,000 lights switched off across the county.

The streets in question were Jamieson Place, Bates Green, Horning Close, Cadge Close and Darrell Place.

Norfolk county councillor Marcus Hemsley, said he and three Norwich city councillors representing the Wensum ward came up with the list after conducting a six-week door-to-door survey to find out in which areas there was most concern over the proposals.

Clr Hemsley said: “I could have done a list of 10 or more but I wanted to keep numbers down to give them a better chance, so we only included those where the overwhelming majority of people wanted the lights kept on.”

Under the plans, selected street lights would turn off between midnight and 5am, with hopes savings of £167,000 would be made county wide and carbon emissions reduced.

They have already become a reality in some parts of Norfolk, including Wymondham, with certain criteria needing to be fulfilled for lights to be exempted. The scheme is set to to take three years to complete.

These include those with CCTV cameras, traffic-calming measures, high traffic flow and places where police say crime could be increased as a result.

But Clr Hemsley questioned the accuracy of the criteria used and highlighted Jamieson Place – which he calls a “hot spot for vandalism and violence” – as an area of particular concern.

“We asked 32 people down there about their feelings on the matter, and only two weren’t fussed,” he said, adding “there’s a lot of crime around there and a lot of people who are scared. Saving these five won’t make much difference to cost but it will to people’s lives.”

Over the summer period the county council sent out letters about the 5,900 lights set to be affected in Norwich giving people a last chance to make the case for keeping them on. The councillors’ door-to-door survey came as part of this.

“We weren’t asking for much but these were really critical streets where people really feel they’re important,” added Norwich city councillor Lucy Galvin, who was also involved.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “I can confirm we have reconsidered these five streets at the request of local county councillor, Marcus Hemsley.

“In deciding which streets should be exempt, the county council has to be consistent across the whole of Norwich and the rest of the county.

“Unfortunately these five streets do not meet the criteria that would lead to them being exempted, so the county council’s normal policy of converting to part-night lighting has to apply.”

Do you have street light fears? Contact reporter John Owens on 01603 772439.

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