Streetlight switch-off challenge fails

First published in Gwent news by

AN ABERGAVENNY county councillor has spoken of his disappointment that a challenge to Monmouthshire council's plan to turn large numbers of urban street lights off overnight failed last week.

Cllr Kevin Williams, who represents Llanwenarth Ultra, proposed that its proposal to turn off some lights across residential estates from midnight to 5am be sent back to its strong communities select committee. But the motion was rejected at a council meeting last Thursday.

The Argus reported yesterday how the council has now started to switch off street lights in the area as part of budget savings.

Cllr Williams said he was still hoping to find a way to challenge the plan in the near future and was determined to “continue the fight” against it.

On the motion's failure, he said: “I was very disappointed, but not surprised. I just think it’s wrong.

“It will affect my daughter because she gets home at night after work and she gets nervous. For the amount of money (the council is) going to save it is ridiculous.”

The measure was developed by the council to further reduce the authority’s energy bill, reducing costs and cutting carbon emissions by 1,000 tonnes every year. It was first passed at the council’s budget meeting in February and it is hoped it will save the authority up to £180,000 over the next year.

No street lights in high risk areas, such as main roads or those with traffic calming measures, will be turned off by the council.

But another member of the council, Cllr Maureen Powell, told the meeting there were no street lights when she was a child during the Second World War and that people could always buy a torch from a DIY store if they felt unsafe.

And this week the member for Castle ward, said crime was still occurring in daylight across Monmouthshire and that street lights were not necessarily the deterrent they might be made out to be.

Cllr Powell said: “Anyone who is out after 12 o’clock will probably be able to look after themselves. I’m not saying there’s no crime in the dark. But the percentage is very small.”

And although she would expect “dangers and difficulties” to remain around the county, she said the decision was ultimately taken because of the “tremendous amount of money which we desperately need because the Welsh Government is cutting our funding”.

Community and town councillors across Monmouthshire have been consulted on the street lighting plan over the last few weeks.

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