THE lights will go out around Chepstow starting next Thursday night, after the cabinet member approved plans to help save £180,000 on street lighting costs.

Monmouthshire council is to switch off street lights between midnight and 5am in residential areas of Chepstow from August 28 as part of £9 million savings it has to find this financial year.

The Argus' sister paper the Free Press reported last week how business owners around Chepstow, notably taxi firms, had slammed the move as dangerous.

The manager of Bulwark-based M & R Taxis, Chris Whittaker said turning off lights in residential areas was “incomprehensible”and said that in the early hours of the morning it's difficult to spot people, who may have been drinking, as they cross the road.

Jay Adams, who runs Jay’s Taxis in Chepstow, said he shared Mr Whittaker’s concerns.

“It is more a case that it makes people harder to see, and if you can’t see them, you can’t see what they are up to," he said.

"It is more trouble in the long run.”

The policy was approved by the council back in February when it was agreed that no lights would be turned off in areas with traffic calming measures, pedestrian crossings or other "high risk" pedestrian areas.

Over the last month council officers responsible for street lighting have been speaking to county councillors, town and community councils to establish which areas should not have their street lights switched off.

Lights have already been turned off in residential areas of Abergavenny and Monmouth and other places in the county will follow later in the summer, said a statement published by the council yesterday.

Monmouthshire council's cabinet member responsible for the county’s street lighting, Cllr Bryan Jones said cuts to things like street lighting were now unavoidable.

“Until now, we have been able to make significant savings through working more efficiently," he said.

"But the scale of cuts for this year was such that we can’t avoid making savings that could impact on the communities we serve. I understand entirely that many people won’t like the idea of street lights being turned off.

"We have limited the hours when this will happen and I’m confident that we have done what we can to minimise the impact."