Fears for the elderly as street lights go out

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SONY DSC

A COUNCIL cost-cutting measure to turn off every second street light in the county will endanger the elderly, vulnerable and young people, according to a neighbourhood watch leader.

Nick King, the chairman of Towcester Neighbourhood Watch, also fears the move by Northants County Council will increase the risk of personal injuries, accidents and crime.

Now, as lights across south Northants start to be switched off, residents are being invited to voice their concerns at the groups next public meeting.

Over the last few weeks county council workmen have been switching off half the lights in residential areas and 70 per cent in non residential areas.

NCC said the switch off will save them £2 million a year, just a fraction of the £73 million they have to cut from public spending this year. The switch off was included in the draft budget proposals, alongside a raft of other cuts, in December and a public consultation was carried out.

But Mr King said: “I think a lot of residents only really wake up to it when it happens in their street, which is human nature, but it is disconcerting when you look out you window at night and you can’t seeing anything.

“We are told that this initiative will save the county council a neat £2 million. But at what cost in personal injuries, accidents and crime?

“We are told that these austere times demand dramatic cut backs, but is this a reason to ignore common sense?”

Mr King said there is strong evidence of a link between street lighting and crime and added: “What I see as more worrying and harder to measure is an increase in the feeling of insecurity and the fear of crime that will inevitably result from this big switch off.

“This will be seen in a loss of confidence, especially in the elderly, vulnerable and our young people in feeling safe and enjoying things like a casual walk in the evening.”

Mr King is now inviting members of the public to a regular Neighbourhood Watch meeting on Wednesday, June 26 at Towester Town Hall which will be attended by police officers.

Towcester’s Lib Dem councillors have also put forward a motion to scale back the switch which will be discussed at County Hall on Thursday, June 23.

Ron Sawbridge, NCC’s member for Brackley West said: If we don’t save money on lighting we will have to save money somewhere else.

“We have to save £73 millon over the year, that’s 12.5 per cent off the total budget, while avoiding cuts in education, an not putting it on the vulnerable, disabled and elderly.”