RESIDENTS have been advised to carry torches with them when going out in the early hours of the morning as concerns grow about the switch off of street lights across the borough.
During a discussion about the move at a Redditch Highways Forum meeting last Monday (October 27) the officer is reported to have suggested ‘some people may feel it advisable to carry a torch’ when travelling during the early hours to help with visibility.
The comment was condemned by Arrow Valley East Coun Joe Baker who said he was receiving complaints on a daily basis about the cost cutting measure.
“I was appalled and disgusted,” he said.
“This is about people feeling safe and secure and where there is darkness crime does increase because there’s no deterrent.
“The Conservatives should be taking the money out of the chief executive and directors wages and the consultants fees they are paying – that’s the saving not a couple of quid per light.”
Worcestershire County Council is currently halfway through a ten phase switch off plan in Redditch which will see two out of every three street lights in most residential areas go out from midnight to 6am as part of plans to save the authority £500,000 a year and cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Major traffic routes, junctions and sharp bends on roads are exempt.
But the idea has not proved universally popular.
A Church Hill man, who did not want to be named, said he believed the move was forcing people back into their cars as footpaths were now ‘very dark and imposing’.
“It seems entire footpaths are being switched off which is a completely different matter to switching some of them off.”
It has also been revealed areas of the town with older street lights could end up appearing darker because those lights that remained on were not as efficient as modern bulbs, with Hewell Road one of the areas affected.
Coun Robin Lunn, who represents Redditch North, said he was concerned that would have a big impact when the switch off reached Central Ward, which contains some of the oldest parts of the town. He added he had asked if older lights could be upgraded but was told there was no money.
“I understand the thought process behind the policy but it is not being implemented in a particularly appropriate manner,” he said.
A county council spokesman defended the torch comment and said while it was not policy it was a common sense practical answer to a question put from the audience. He also added they had received about 40 enquiries from the public about the scheme since April, not all of which had been complaints.
“The county-wide rollout followed a successful pilot scheme in Droitwich and the county council is liaising with the police throughout assessing any possible impact on safety or crime.”