A CONTROVERSIAL council policy to reduce street lighting is being blamed for the theft of thousands of pounds worth of tools from a van in Radlett.

Phil Lyons, 51, believes Hertfordshire County Council's new part-time street lighting policy is partly to blame for his van being broken into earlier this month. Thieves stole £2,300 worth of tools and equipment.

Street lighting has been turned off for part of the night across Hertsmere to reduce the county council’s energy bill.

Mr Lyons said: “I haven’t had a problem for six years with parking my van on my drive, but when the part-time lighting was brought in, I find my van is broken into.

“It’s unbelievable that the council is doing this, we pay our council tax to have street lights and I don’t see why they can’t just leave the lights on.”

Mr Lyons, of Woodfield Road, Radlett, who works in security, said well-lit areas are good for home security and he believes the risk of criminal activity is higher when street lights are off.

The decision for part-night operation of street lights was taken by Hertfordshire County Council in November last year to reduce the council's energy bill and carbon emissions.

Councillor Stuart Pile, the county council's executive member for highways and transport said the council looked at evidence of other local authorities who had carried out similar schemes which showed no reduction in safety.

Most street lights in Hertfordshire will be converted to part-time lighting except for areas in town centres, where there is an obstruction on the road such as junctions and roundabouts, roads with a history of night time accidents and locations covered by CCTV cameras.

Lorraine Goldstein, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for Wordsworth Gardens, said: “People are scared to go out their homes and it’s ridiculous that these lights are off when people come home from work.

“People are worried crime will go up because you don’t know who’s round the corner and people might get attacked because you can’t see what’s coming.

“This is an issue that needs to be addressed, and there needs to be some sort of compromise.”