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County thinking again on dark streets

by admin on May 18th, 2014

Switch off and on to match train times?

Essex County Council is keeping under review its decision to switch off streetlights across the county. This began as between midnight and 5am and is currently 1am to 5am.

Loughton Residents Association representative on the council, councillor Chris Pond, and Loughton Town Council had been pressing the county council to allow the lights to remain on everywhere in Loughton until 15 minutes after the last train arrives and to come on again 15 minutes before the first train in the mornings in recognition of the fact that Loughton’s economy and social life is firmly attuned to public transport times.

This was something also suggested by many residents who filled in the Hills Amenity Society questionnaire on the subject of part night lighting last year.

Councillor Pond said while he would welcome the change of turn off time from midnight to 1am, a subsequent later switch on at 6am would still not be convenient for those heading to work early on dark mornings in winter months.

He said: “The lights off time was changed to 1-5 during late April. That’s fine, BUT of course it has been light by 5 in May. The real test will be when early risers set off for work in September, not to mention November.

The bus stops served by early and late buses should remain protected by virtue of my agreement with the Council.”

Currently, other than where roads meet the county council’s strict exception criteria (i.e. the High Road and around roundabouts) or where there are legal or technical constraints preventing part night switch off (currently areas including a part of Staples Road, Englands Lane and Smarts Lane), lights are now out between midnight and 5am.

Anyone with queries about the switch off in their street can contact Essex County Council’s Customer Services Department via email at or write to: Customer Services, Essex Highways, PO Box 11, County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1LX.

We’ll let you know via the HAS website when we hear more.

Although the 9 December date for Lights Out in the Hills was delayed until after the Christmas and New Year period, the regime of darkness between the hours of midnight and 5am was in force until April.

So far no horror stories have reached the Hills Amenity Society about incidents resulting from the darkness despite mixed feelings towards the policy expressed by some residents who had raised concerns about increased crime including burglaries and vandalism, and personal safety.

The policy of switching the streetlights off overnight is part of a nationwide move by councils to cut carbon emissions as well as to make financial savings. The lights that remain on are those in the town centre around retail and banking facilities and those at transport interchanges such as roundabouts.

The roll out of the policy in the Loughton area followed a pilot study in Maldon and Uttlesford by Essex County Council which reported no increase in crime levels in those areas as a result of part night lighting. There was also no demonstrable increase in road collisions.

It’s worth knowing that Essex County Council says on its website that Essex Police can ask for lights to be turned back on if they can demonstrate that there had been a significant increase in crime due to the introduction of part night lighting in an area. They won’t however, consider requests from individuals/members of the public.



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