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Council sees the light: here’s where street lights are being turned off
THE county council has seen the light and has now revealed which street lamps are being turned off after midnight.
And now Borough of Poole is considering its position of refusing to reveal the information in the light of the county council’s u-turn.
The information has been released by Dorset County Council following the intervention of the Member Champ-ion for Freedom of Infor-mation, who came down on the side of the Daily Echo’s appeal.
Cllr John Wilson, Dorset County councillor, called for an urgent review of the decision to refuse a list of the street names after reading the Echo’s recent story.
“There is nothing secret about it at all,” said Cllr Wilson. “Residents have every right to know about their street lights.”
He added this was his first intervention since he took on the post in 2004.
The Daily Echo submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Act to Dorset County Council and Borough of Poole, believing residents had a right to know if their roads were to be left in darkness from midnight.
After the information was refused by both authorities on the grounds of the prevention or detection of crime, the newspaper appealed.
Poole council dismissed the appeal on the grounds that “the need to protect the location of these properties is greater than the public test of making this information available to you”.
But Dorset reviewed its stance and decided it was in the public interest to release the information.
It has handed over spreadsheets detailing every street light that has so far been turned off and these are available on bournemouthecho.co.uk.
Cllr Wilson, who represents Ferndown, said council policy was to turn off every street light in the county, with five categories of exemption.
Lamps in the west including Weymouth and Dorchester had been turned off for a year and there had been “virtually no problems”, he said.
The exemptions where lights will not be turned off are where there is CCTV, in busy town centres, at speed humps, roundabouts and where there are sharp dips in the road. Police can also ask for lights to be kept on.
The switch-off will save the county council £150,000 a year and Poole’s blacking out of a further 251 roads in phase two of its scheme is also intended to reduce its carbon footprint.
A resident of Creekmoor, Poole has written to Dorset Police and Crime Comm-issioner Martyn Underhill, who is monitoring concerns, expressing outrage at the “ludicrous” policy.
“This enforced blackout is now an invitation for crime, burglars and drug addicts as well as a health and safety nightmare for the residents.”
Poole resident Patrick Hard-ing said: “In our road the lights are going out between midnight and 1am and coming back on just as it’s getting light.”
However Colehill residents won their fight to keep their lights on around traffic calming chicanes. Cllr Janet Dover said: “There were real fears someone could get seriously injured or worse.”