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Street lights decision criticised

PUBLISHED: 06:34 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:03 02 July 2010

Norfolk's Tory county council leaders were yesterday accused of riding roughshod over the views of Norwich residents with a decision to press ahead with a controversial street light switch off.

Norfolk's Tory county council leaders were yesterday accused of riding roughshod over the views of Norwich residents with a decision to press ahead with a controversial street light switch off.

The council has agreed a three year plan to replace 27,000 street lights, fitting cells which will switch off between midnight and 5am.

Supporters believe the changes will cut the council's carbon footprint and save £167,000 a year.

But critics fear it will raise the fear of crime and there has been anger over the way the decisions have been taken.

Final decisions will be delegated to Mike Jackson, the council's director of planning and transportation, with assistance from cabinet member Adrian Gunson.

But members of the council's scrutiny committee pressed for assurances that the public would be kept informed of any switch-off plans.

Labour's George Nobbs, accused Mr Gunson and the administration of ignoring people's views and discounting the views of the council's Norwich area committee, which had raised concerns about the plans.

“You have talked a great deal about consultation, but I don't place much faith in it as what value did you place on the views of the Norwich area committee,” he said.

Richard Bearman, Green councillor, and chairman of the Norwich Area committee, said: “It's clear from the meetings I have been to that the elected district councillors feel they have been left out of this process and they want to see the elected members both county councillors and the relevant districts involved in the decision-making on a street-by-street level.”

Mr Gunson said there were currently two processes for switching lights off, the first when new ones are put in, and the second when they are being maintained.

Currently the public is only told when new lights are installed but he said the authority was changing its consultation process to allow for people to be informed in both cases, and the council would seek the view of parish, town and district councils and the local police safer neighbourhood partnership teams.

“We will review our communication process,” he said. “We will be giving three months advance notice in future, which we do not do at the moment.

“What we are looking for in the consultation is facts we didn't know about, that's the purpose of the consultation so that facts we didn't know about are brought to our attention.

“I wouldn't say we are going to be able to take into account personal preferences,” he added.

Do you think the street lights plan should go ahead? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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