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Basildon Tories say street light turn-off is just 'cost-cutting'
12:00pm Friday 13th September 2013 in News
TORIES have criticised their counterparts at County Hall, accusing them of “sticking two fingers up” at residents over plans to turn off street lights at night.
Phil Turner, Tory deputy leader of Basildon Council, spoke out against Essex County Council’s programme of streetlight turn offs, branding it a costcutting exercise.
Fellow Tory David Abrahall joined him in his condemnation of County Hall Conservatives, who announced 70 per cent of street lights will be turned off in the borough from November 1 in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint.
Rochford will follow, on January 1.
Mr Turner said: “Nobody would argue with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint, but this is purely cost cutting.
“County members are not listening to residents and are sticking two fingers up to everyone, including me, which isn’t good enough.
“We need to see where the council wants to turn off the street lights before making a decision, but at the moment the council is just going all in.”
“I’m cautious about turning off street lights, because it could create more problems with vandalism and antisocial behaviour, which in turn costs more money.”
The county council has not confirmed specific areas where lights will be switched off – from midnight to 5am – but a consultation is under way for residents to put their case forward for which areas should be kept lit.
Roughly 70 per cent of lights will be kept on in locations such as tricky roads and town centres.
The exercise will shave £1million off the county council’s annual budget, but putting in the sensors to switch the lights off is costing the authority £6.6m.
However, Mr Abrahall, who represents one of the least affluent wards in Basildon – Pitsea South East – said: “The saving energy line is just a smokescreen to what is cost-cutting.”
Basildon Council leader Tony Ball added: “I must admit I can see the rationale behind turning them off in some places in Basildon, as some roads are like Christmas trees when there are no drivers using them.
“But the turn-off in Uttlesford and Maldon is no good for Basildon. We will see how the pilot goes in Chelsmford, which is much more like Basildon, and then keep in discussions with police.
The consultation runs until September 27.
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