Essex to switch-off lights to cut costs

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Parts of Halstead have been plunged into darkness with street lights turned off permanently to cut costs and save energy.

Trials had been run across the county to see if crime levels would increase where street lights were turned off at night and, with no noticeable difference, the scheme is set to be rolled out across Essex.

Mike Murkin, clerk of Halstead Town Council, said: “Considerable parts of the town are in darkness but we haven’t noticed a rise in accidents or crime.”

He said that police had informed the council at a recent meeting that most burglaries actually took place in the day when people are out.

Nick Alston, police and crime commissioner for Essex, said: “There is fairly clear evidence that anti-social behaviour reduces where part-night street lighting is introduced.

“There are valid concerns about road safety and I am pleased that Essex County Council has decided to keep street lighting on at major road junctions.

“I consider it important that in those areas where part-night lighting has been introduced, we continue to gather and analyse crime patterns.”

Essex County Council will continue to switch off lights between midnight and 5am unless it is within certain exception criteria, including accident blackspots and areas of high crime risk.

It is estimated that the scheme will save the authority up to £1million a year.

Sudbury town councillor Susan Ayres, however, has warned Essex residents to be wary, having witnessed the negative impact she feels the switch-off has had in Sudbury.

She said pitch-black streets were a scary experience. “A torch is something you will now need – you really can’t see in front of your face,” she said.