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County street lights switch-off 'will cause more crashes'
A CONTROVERSIAL policy to switch off street lights across Dorset is “ill-conceived and inflexible,” a councillor has claimed.
The county council is being urged to go back to the drawing board and rethink some aspects of its cost-cutting policy to switch off street lights between midnight and 5.30am.
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Janet Dover fears the move will lead to an increase in accidents in Colehill, where the lights are about to be turned off.
She is angry that Colehill’s traffic calming measures will be unlit and accused the county council of ignoring residents.
“It’s ill-conceived, the policy is much too rigid and they are not listening to the residents and making pragmatic compromises,” she said.
“They would only need to keep six lights on to illuminate the traffic calming scheme in Colehill. If they were humps, rather than build-outs, they would keep the lights on but there is no flexibility.”
The policy has also sparked concerns from shift workers, who have to walk to and from work in the dark.
Sam Hart, the group HR manager at Pork Farms in Shaftesbury, said: “Our staff on night and early morning shifts have to walk through the estate in darkness, which they don’t like. They worry about missing their footing and feel it is unsafe.
“Our employees have complained and complained and we have had to tell them it is out of our hands. “We understand the council needs to save money but we wonder why they can’t install motion detectors or something like that.”
Shaftesbury Central Cllr Derek Beer said: “There are three factories in one area of Shaftesbury and it’s intimidating for their night shift workers to have to walk to and from work in pitch darkness.”
The permanent switch-off is currently being rolled out across the county. It affects lights in residential roads and areas deemed “not essential” and is set to save the council £150,000 a year.
Mike Winter, head of highways management at Dorset County Council, said the switch-off did not affect town centres, areas with high crime, roads with high traffic flows or areas with road humps and roundabouts.
“We aim to save a minimum £150,000 a year from the scheme, which will ease pressure on other highways services.
“A link hasn’t been found between part-night streetlighting and crime and we haven’t seen any increases in crime during the early hours of the morning in any of the areas completed so far.”