Intelligent lighting? Don’t make us laugh

VILLAGERS are getting used to life without lights at night as some street lights were switched off this week to save money.

More than a dozen villages have had their county council-owned lights turned off or dimmed in the last two weeks.

Last week, it was Cavendish, Clare, Lavenham, Long Melford, Polstead and Stoke-by-Clare and this week it was the turn of Leavenheath, Boxford, Bures, Assington, Chelsworth, Little Waldingfield, Nayland and Newton.

The big switch off – called the Intelligent Lighting System – will save Suffolk County Council at least £550,000 per year on energy bills for its 55,000 street lights, and cut CO2 emissions by 4,000 tonnes by April 2013.

However, there have already been concerns about the potential for a rise in crime, with complaints from elderly people who like the reassurance of having lights on.

Speaking at Great Cornard Parish Council meeting on Monday night, Pcso Alex Vinter said: “I have had a lot of residents come to me and say there has been an increase in crime, but I am yet to see any concrete proof of this.

“What switching the lights off has done is massively increase the fear of crime. It is an assumption that all too many people are jumping to and we are trying to reassure people that there is no hard proof that crime has increased as a result of this.”

For the full story see last week’s Free Press.