Essex County Council get street lighting fund boost but will proceed with part-time night lighting s

PUBLISHED: 08:08 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 22:10 31 May 2010

ESSEX County Council (ECC) is set to benefit from a £164m Government hand out to improve street lighting - but it is unlikely to affect part-time night lighting in Saffron Walden. The cash is being made available by Transport Minister Sadiq Khan through a

ESSEX County Council (ECC) is set to benefit from a £164m Government hand out to improve street lighting - but it is unlikely to affect part-time night lighting in Saffron Walden.

The cash is being made available by Transport Minister Sadiq Khan through a Private Finance Initiative to reduce crime and provide a safer environment for residents.

News of the funding has led to calls for ECC to abolish its part night street lighting scheme, which was introduced during 2008 in a bid to save costs and reduce carbon emissions.

However, the council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, Norman Hume, insisted the authority will continue to push ahead with the programme.

Cllr Hume said: "Consideration of part night lighting will form part of our Outline Business Case but in the meantime we continue to examine options for part night lighting technology in accordance with the recommendations of the Scrutiny Report published late last year."

Since it was brought in, the energy-saving scheme - which sees street lights switched off in parts of the town between midnight and 5am - has caused concern among some residents that it has led to an increase in crime.

And the council's stance has not drawn favour with campaigners who are bidding to get street lights back on.

Jackie Swatton, who has been leading a campaign in the Winstanley Road area of Saffron Walden, said: "The reason behind the county council's scheme was to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

"Here the Government is offering a substantial amount of money to the council to develop its street lighting.

"Essex has the ability to completely overhaul its lighting system - this money gives it the chance to change to more carbon-friendly, low-cost bulbs to better deal with carbon emissions while at the same time giving residents a safer night time environment.

"But it seems determined to carry on with its current programme regardless. It makes no sense at all."

News of the funding may also see questions raised in the town council, which has set aside £5000 in its budget to get lights switched back on in parts of the town.

Town councillor Mike Hibbs said: "I am very much in favour of bringing in energy-saving lights and I am worried about switching off the lights.

"If Essex County Council has this money and can achieve both the objectives of installing street lights that are much more sustainable without affecting people's fear of crime, then I would call on the council to use it."

Essex is one of seven local authorities to benefit from the funding. The authority will need to prepare an outline business case which must be approved before procurement can begin.

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