By Alex Maxam
Colchester residents are angry that talks to turn the town’s streetlights back on in the small hours have broken down.
Essex county council refused to support Colchester borough council’s plan for the lights to stay on all night, every night, for the next two years.
The county council says it will only agree to four-year deal, but the borough says it cannot afford to commit funds for that long. –
Seb McCarthy, 16, from Colchester, said: “I don’t like the streetlights being off, I’d prefer them to be on.
“When I’m walking back home from parties and stuff I’m always quite scared since it’s pitch black. Where I live there have been a few murders so that doesn’t help.”
Craig Scott, 38, said: “The roads get quite dark and you need your beamers on a lot of the time.”
Some residents have got used to the lights being switched off in the small hours, as they have been for three years. Alison Cook, 53, said: “At first I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I’ve got used to it now and it doesn’t seem so bad.”
Essex county council acknowledges that people may fear that they are at an increased risk of crime, but states that there is no evidence that there is an increased risk.
A country council spokesperson said: “There are less traffic movements between these hours and road accidents during this timeframe are considered low.
“However, the exception criteria require lights to be lit where this is a recommendation of road safety engineers or where lights were originally installed as an accident prevention measure.”
A project funded by the National Institute for Health Research suggests that improved street lighting can in fact reduce crime. The LANTERNS project provided several findings on the use of street lighting in villages, towns and cities.
The Campbell review on ‘Effects of Improved Street Lighting on Crime’ found that improved street lighting reduces crime by 38 per cent, compared to similar areas that did not experience street lighting improvements.
Another review also suggests that street lighting can help to avoid road accidents. The Cochrane review on ‘Effects of Improved Street Lighting on Crime’ concluded that street lighting can prevent road traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities. However, it did state that more research needs to be done in order to find out the full-effectiveness of street lighting.