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Hertfordshire County Council report concludes part-night lighting project 'a success'
Hertfordshire County Council’s policy of turning off streetlights after midnight has been judged a success, according to a report.
The council's highways and waste management cabinet panel has published a report concluding the part-night lighting project has met its objectives on economic, environmental and safety grounds.
The scheme was introduced in November 2010 and sees lights being turned off between 12am and 6am to cut the council’s energy bill and carbon emissions.
The report, presented during a meeting on Thursday, revealed the project had cost £3.75m, which includes the expense of converting most of the county’s 113,557 street lamps.
It has resulted in 5,316 tonnes of carbon savings and had saved the council around £1.3million a year.
The document adds the council will have avoided £91,000 in carbon tax costs from April 2014 and the project will have paid for itself by December 2014.
Councillor Terry Douris, who is responsible for highways and waste management, said: “Our review shows that, despite some people’s fears, actual safety has not declined.
“There has been no increase in crime and no increase in road traffic accidents due to part-night lighting and the changes to our streetlighting policy are saving around £1.3 million a year, as well as reducing carbon emissions.”
However Borehamwood North councillor Leon Reefe, a member of the panel, believes there are better ways to save energy and money than turning off the streetlights at midnight.
He said: “The bottom line is Labour wants the street lights to stay on.
"The first thing we would do if we were voted back in is turn them back on but replace them with energy saving bulbs.
“The project has cost the council £3.75m to convert the lights so they could have been turned off.
“It will take at least three years to recoup that money.
"It would have been far better to have spent that money on installing energy saving light bulbs in all street lighting units, and reduced carbon emissions that way.”
On Tuesday October 1, a day of scrutiny will be held to examine evidence on the project from a number of stakeholders including Hertfordshire Constabulary, other local authorities and the panel.
Councillor Reefe said he hoped the day of scrutiny would result in a compromise resulting in the streetlights being kept on until at least 1am.
He added: “Midnight is too early to turn off the street lights. It is not good sense to turn them off before the last train from London gets in.
“The station is well lit but I guarantee people having to walk from there to their homes after midnight, which many people do, will have to do so in pitch darkness.
“I have had parents coming to me saying they are concerned their older teenagers, who are entitled to be out after midnight, risk intimidation and violence by walking home in the dark.
"The sensible thing to do would be to leave them on for a few more hours.”
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