Safety concerns as the darkness grows

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THERE is growing concern in south Northants about cost saving measures which are plunging parts of the county into darkness.

In April the Advertiser reported a announcement by Northants County Council that they would be switching off half the street lights in the county in order to save £2 million. NCC put this into the wider context of them needing in to slash £73 million from their spending over the next year.

NCC said they would not switch off lights at complex junctions or where their had been a higher that average number of accidents.

Heather Smith, NCC’s cabinet member for highways said when choosing which lights to switch off ‘peoples’ safety would be an obvious priority.’

However, as the switch off hit Brackley and Towcester several people contacted the Advertiser to report lights being switched off near zebra crossings and care homes. Lights to be switched off have been marked with stickers.

Brackley resident David Dingvean said: “There is a sticker on the lamposts over looking the new zebra crossing outside Southfield School, and there also a stickers on lamposts next to several bus stops. At the moment it’s not too bad but when it starts to get dark earlier again I wouldn’t fancy being at a bus stop on a dark rainy evening without a street light. There’s also rumours that those lights switched off will be removed completely, surely that’s more expensive?”

Geoffrey Nuelle, chairman of the Brackley Town Council planning committee said he was worried about the impact on road safety and crime but is waiting to see what the full implications will be. He said: “About two months ago I complained to NCC about this, I wanted to know which lights would be switched, but they could not be definitive.

“I’m worried about it from a health and safety point of view and I’m also worried about any possible criminal activity in dark areas of the town. The other thing is road safety. The streets in Brackley are not particularly bright and I can foresee an increase in accidents. But in the next few weeks we will see what the impact will be.”

David Linney, Towcester’s deputy mayor said there was growing concern in the town and criticised the lack of consultation. ”Basically it is a fait de compli,” he added.

A spokesman for NCC said the switch off was included in the You Choose consultation and feed back can be passed through their website www.northamptonshire.gov.uk.