Discontent rises as street light switch-off programme is completed

Councillors could be in for a hard time at tonight’s meeting of the Bradley Stoke Safer and Stronger Community Group, where a number of residents are expected to protest against the recently completed part-night switch-off of street lights in Bradley Stoke.

The programme to adjust the lights so that they switch off between (nominally) midnight and 5am began in April but has only just been completed after work was halted on two occasions.

Work stopped for a week in April after a surge in complaints to South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) about malfunctioning street lights. The programme was then halted for a second time at the beginning of May, when “too much sun” was blamed for confusing new photocells fitted in the lamps, causing them to switch on and off at irregular times.

SGC later blamed a “software anomaly” in the new photocells and 2,000 lights had be be revisited by maintenance teams so that the faulty units could be replaced (at the expense of the supplier).

The aim of the scheme is to cut electricty bills and reduce CO2 emissions but a number of residents who have contacted The Journal have questioned whether the inconvenience and feeling of insecurity caused by the switch-off can be justified by the savings being made.

All the residents who have contacted us say they were unaware of the public consultation run by Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) in the final months of 2010, despite the fact that every household in the town should have received a copy of the Council’s newsletter, which included a two page spread about the proposed scheme.

The Council also advertised the consultation prominently on its own website and held a public drop-in session in December 2010, where large scale versions of the plans were displayed.

One resident, Maria Sequeiros, has been using the social networking site Twitter (@mariathengineer) to voice her disquiet. A posting on 2nd July describes the switch-off scheme as “insane”, saying it will “lead to [a] rise in crime and insurance premiums”. Maria also tells readers that she voiced her concerns at a recent Councillor Surgery and that the Council has told her that it has “no legal duty to provide lighting”.

Other residents contacting The Journal have criticised the Council for introducing the scheme on the outcome of a public consultation that generated just 153 responses from a population of over 20,000.

Tonight’s Safer and Stronger meeting [agenda] takes place at the Jubilee Centre, Savages Wood Road, starting at 7pm. As well as giving residents a chance to “have their say” about local issues, the meeting will include presentations from Avon Fire & Rescue and Bradley Stoke Community Radio.

Residents will have a further opportunity to question Councillors tomorrow evening (Wednesday 13th) at a BSTC Full Council meeting [agenda], also at the Jubilee Centre (7:30pm start).

Related link: What’s On in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)

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  1. Honestly I don’t see what the problem is. My street was one of the very first to switch over months ago. So far there has been no increase in crime in my street (touch wood) and in fact I am now sleeping better now that my bedroom is pitch black. Only time will tell whether there will be an increase in crime.

  2. I think turning the lights off is a good idea. Let’s face it, we don’t exactly all walk round post midnight and quite frankly if you can’t sleep well because you feel insecure about no street lights being on then it sounds like you need some sort of treatment for anxiety. The whole criminality problem is a much more deep rooted issue in society.

    If it saves money then it’s quite a good thing. It’s just a shame the money saved will probably be spent on some other useless project that will antagonise the majority of residents further. Perhaps I could help the council and suggest a larger series of traffic calming schemes at approximately 50 metre distances on Brook Way in case someone wants to cross the road at an inappropriate spot?

  3. Let’s hope the plug soon gets pulled on the traffic lights which blight our area for the 20 hours a day they are not needed.

  4. I think it’s a good idea to turn the lights off, and I’ve reported that to the Journal previously. I also saw the consultation documents arrive on my doormat, so I have no complaints with that process either.

  5. Ah, My favourite subject.

    Sadly, I couldn’t make the SSGC this evening, so will await the outcome with interest.

    I have commented on this in the past, and my bugbear with this scheme was the alleged public consultation – or in my opinion, lack of one. It was ineffective and gave little or no consideration to the safety and welfare of residents – BUT don’t get me wrong, I am not against a reduction of lighting and support the principle behind it but I mean that – a reduction – not all lights in one street being switched off.

    With respect to Mike and Mr Politically Incorrect – I agree we don’t all wander around after midnight but please consider there are males and females (myself included) who do occasionally come home late or leave early – is it wrong to to want to feel as safe as possible – and I speak as someone who lives near a roundabout and a pub – and am not unduly affected by the lights out.

    Probably because I live on a main road by a pub, I have on more than one occasion been approached by strangers as I was about to enter my home – and that about 8 – 9pm…this does make me concerned if it happened later when there may be less people about who could assist if needed.

    I have also had to call the police when a very drunk woman banged on my window begging for help – turns out she’d lost her keys – BUT there was also a vehicle driving up and down the road at the same time and I was worried about her welfare – that was about 1am – so, yes, crime and safety is paramount and the more we can do to minimise it the better.

    Also, I object to feeling that, if I lived elsewhere in BS, where the whole street lights were off, I would be under curfew – as an adult who pays taxes and council tax, that is unacceptable to me.

  6. Totally support the part-night lighting policy. I’d much rather that my council tax went towards essential services such as looking after the young, old and vulnerable members of society rather than lighting empty streets through the night.

    I don’t buy into this “crime will go up” argument. It seems to me that crime is more likely to go down if anything. A number of other areas across the UK have introduced part-night lighting in the last couple of years or so quite succesfully, with no increase in crime, and there’s no reason to think that the Bradley Stoke pilot will not be be equally successful.

  7. It is now pitch black after midnight! I am against the turning off of street lights and am appalled at the ineffective public consultation regarding the matter.

    I am a doctor and work shifts and therefore it is inevitable that from time to time I will have to leave home late or arrive back in the early hours whilst it is still dark. As part of the taxes I pay, I expect to be able to feel safe as I walk back home in an adequately lit road and I can only imagine this is how other tax payers feel.

    The statistical evidence shows that there are more fatal and serious accidents when roads are unlit and good street lighting reduces crime. I have also read that the cost of converting street lights to operate on the new system might outweigh the advantages.

    I believe that the safety of our community is paramount and that local authorities should be looking at more environmentally friendly lighting technology, rather than putting our community’s safety at risk and causing unnecessary sense of unease.

  8. I understand the saving is around £12000 per annum. To me this does not sound a lot to compromise anyones safety and wellbeing. Would be very interesting to see the “added”cost so far of each of the streetlights being visited and modified with a new sensor ? especially seeing as most have been visited by technicians twice already due to faults such as “too much sunshine !”. Its interesting too that some strets have not had there lights turned off, including all he main roads. I would have thought the sensible thing would be to turn off alternate lights on all the roads, thus make the saving and leave nobody in complete darkness? maybe im just too simplistic?

  9. I am disgusted that a built up town such as the one we live in feels the need to turn its lights off at night, I work shift work and more often than not have to walk from my car parking space to my front door in pitch black, there is no body around at that time of the night should I need any assitance. Also I have on a number of times fallen victim to car crime so can see this only getting worse.

    I would also like to say that I never had any news letter put through my front door otherwise I would of responded in outrage.

    I totally believe that the safety of our community is paramount and that local authorities should be looking at more environmentally friendly lighting technology, rather than putting our community’s safety at risk and causing unnecessary sense of unease.

    If it saves money then it’s quite a good thing, however as we all know the money saved will be spent on some other useless project that will antagonise the majority of residents further.

    Suggestion to BS council – Maybe spend a bit of money that you save on plunging us all into darkness on the childrens park that has had slides taken away recently due to, no doubt vandalisum.

  10. I am disgraced that the lights have been switched off. I have received nothing in the post regarding this issue. I pay my rates I assume we will receive rebate (think not!!!). Oh and whilst we are on the subject of the estate costing us money I refer to the Sleeping policeman which cost me a new set of tyres each year we I ever be reimbursed for those.!!!

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