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Blackout plan will only save £345,000 across South Essex
2:30pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
PLUNGING south Essex into darkness by turning off the majority of its street lights after midnight will save Essex County Council just £345,000 a year, the Echo can reveal.
The authority’s proposals to turn off residential and county road street lights in the south of Essex will begin in Basildon on November 1, with the big blackout in the town saving £222,000.
Further switch-offs in Castle Point and Rochford will save £64,000 and £59,000. Some £1million will be saved by the blackout in the county as a whole.
The savings have been branded miniscule.
Kerry Smith, Ukip county councillor for Westley Heights, said: “The savings proposed in the areas down here just aren’t worth the risk they will create.
“If the council is only saving £1million a year on turn-offs, then the average should be about £100,000, but Basildon is almost double that.
“The consultation is a sham and if the county council said £220,000 will be saved in Basildon, then that shows it has probably already got its mind made up.
“The whole process has just been spin and lies.”
Mr Smith also pointed out although the blackout is projected to save £1million a year, the authority will spend £6.6million fitting sensors onto the lights to switch them off.
The controversial scheme has already been piloted in the Maldon and Uttlesford districts.
County Hall insisted crime levels did not increase when the majority of lights were turned-off in those areas.
The Echo asked for an interview three times with the County Hall’s cabinet member responsible for the decision, Rodney Bass, but these requests were all declined.
The big switch-off in Basildon will take place in the winter, with lights turned-off between midnight and 5am.
Castle Point will follow on December 1, while Rochford will have a blackout from January 1.
Residents can put their case forward as to why their street should keep its lights on, as part of a consultation process that is set to run until Friday, September 27.
However, they must present their argument to their borough councillor, who will then pass it onto County Hall, instead of contacting the county council direct.
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