By Kevin Unitt 07/06 Updated: 11/06 07:51
LIVES could be put at risk by switching off Warwickshire's street lights at night, it has been claimed.
The proposals have long been talked about and Warwickshire County Council is now unveiling the finer details and consulting with local people at a host of community forums throughout the summer.
The authority said it currently spent £2.2 million a year on energy for street lighting but switching off most of its 49,500 lights at night - between midnight and 5.30am - would save £500,000 a year and drastically reduce C02 emissions.
It also insists part-night lighting had been introduced successfully in other area including Essex where crime dropped 14 per cent compared to the previous year.
In emergencies police can still request they be switched back on, while public alleyways and cycle paths located away from roads remain lit.
But Penny Bould, a Labour county councillor in Leamington, is concerned over the full implications of the Tory-led council's plans.
She said: “I fear it could cost lives through a rise in accidents and crime, as well as increasing fears of crime if people feel less safe in darkened streets.
“It is all very well that if there is an emergency incident the police control room can contact the council on-call engineer and I have been told lights can be turned back on within ten minutes.
“But what if there is glitch in the system? I appreciate that such incidents and drownings are rare, but for example on The Grand Union Canal ten minutes in the dark looking for someone in the water is enough time for someone to die.
“Of course every street matters to someone and I feel all residents and businesses need to be aware of how it will affect them.W
The county council said the proposals were primarily to help make savings to its budget and also meet carbon emission targets.
Council highways and transport chief, coun Peter Butlin, added: “It is important to note we have been working closely with the police, community safety and road safety teams to ensure the changes are not going to have a negative impact either for road users or in terms of criminal behaviour.
“The scheme has worked well in other parts of the country and rest assured that we will closely monitor traffic accidents and crime levels and review any changes that may need to be made.”
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/partnightlighting for more details on the plans.
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