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Echo wins Poole street lights fight
FOLLOWING a U-turn by the county council, Borough of Poole has now decided to reveal the streets it intends to plunge into darkness after midnight.
Both councils initially refused to reveal lists of the residential streets where lights will be switched off in a bid to save money and reduce energy use.
But Dorset County Council saw the light and overturned its first refusal to reveal the information following a Freedom of Information Act request from the Daily Echo, after the intervention of its member champion for FOI, Councillor John Wilson.
Now – after having refused the FOI and an appeal – Poole Council has finally followed suit, declaring there were no “relevant exemptions set out in the regulations which apply to these circumstances”.
Cabinet portfolio holder for transportation at Borough of Poole Councillor Xena Dion said: “During the initial phases of this exercise, in line with police advice, we felt that we were legally entitled to withhold information about a trial scheme in parts of Poole.
Borough of Poole is not intending to publish the information on our website as we feel that widespread publication could increase people’s fear of crime, although we have no evidence that a reduction in street lighting results in any actual increase in crime rates.”
In phase two of its trial, Poole is converting approximately 1,800 lights in 215 streets, out of 251 in which residents were consulted, to part night operation.
Conversion work has started and around half has been completed. The remaining work should be finished by the end of May. The county council began turning off almost 4,100 lights in specific areas in early December. However, there are exemptions as with Poole.
The borough will not dim lighting at the ends of footpaths and on roads with traffic calming features. Cllr Wilson said there was “nothing secret” about the switch off.
“Residents have every right to know about their street lights,” he said.
Swanage is the latest county council town to reveal its list of 800 street lamps that will be switched off overnight in April.