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Campaigners urge Hertfordshire County Council to turn streetlights back on in Borehamwood
Campaigners against a policy that leaves Borehamwood plunged into darkness for much of the night are hoping “common sense will prevail” when councillors debate it next week.
Hertfordshire County Council will meet residents and the police on Tuesday to discuss the success of the part-night lighting policy, in which street-lights are turned off between 12am and 6am.
A report for councillors has already hailed the policy as a success in cutting costs and saving energy without increasing crime rates.
However campaigners claim the policy has already led to several burglaries, is damaging the economy of the town and causes anxiety to residents too scared to go out after dark.
Daniel Graham and Sue Alford, who describe themselves as “unwilling campaigners” have been working to have the street lights turned on all night since they went off two years ago.
Ms Alford claims eight homes have been burgled during the 'lights out' period and says she no longer feels safe in her home town.
She said: “I am curfewed to being back in my house by midnight - this is a blatant violation to my freedom of movement.
“The roads and pavements are poorly maintained meaning there is a high risk of anyone walking out during these times slipping or tripping.
“Anyone with teenagers who are out now have additional anxieties about them getting home as the walk from the bus stop or train station is now an unpleasant and frightening journey to make."
Mr Graham said: “In this 24-hour society, where people work night shifts, it is not fair to deprive them of access to lights. What if someone trips and falls over in the dark, or worse?
“The crime figures remain low because people are scared to go out. People have to change their lifestyles.
“They have to invest in torches and security lights. People don’t go to the pubs anymore because they don’t want to walk back in pitch darkness, which is badly affecting the town’s economy.”
Mr Graham said the policy, which had cost £4.5million to introduce, would take three years to give a return on the investment.
He added: “They could have looked at other solutions such as LED lights, which would use less energy, or sensors to turn the lights on when people passed, which would have been more cost effective.”
“The technology doesn’t work anyway as many lights go off at different times or are on during the day.”
Mr Graham also condemned the council’s “badly managed” consultation, which he claims meant residents were not made fully aware of the proposals before they were implemented.
He added: “We had a petition of 5,500 signatures opposing this, the biggest ever submitted to the council, which shows the strength of public feeling.
Ms Alford said: “Our views have principally been ignored, the council’s claim it is making savings adds insult to injury as it have yet again failed to appreciate or respect our concerns.
“We are paying the price now - literally - to pay for their savings.”
The campaigners have prepared a report and will have the chance to put their views across at the meeting.
Mr Graham added: “I hope common sense will prevail and they will decide to turn the lights back on.
"But the council has invested a lot of money and I don’t think it will want to look at alternative solutions.”
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