Bright idea in light cost-cutting drive

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SCARBOROUGH could be set for a bright cost-cutting drive – by turning off street lights during the night.

Plans to switch off lights between midnight and 5am are back on the radar as North Yorkshire County Council looks to save £400,000.

The move was backed by county council officials last year and would aim to cut 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions across the county by 2015.

However, under the proposals, no lights will be affected in areas of high crime and anti-social behaviour.

Lights would also not be turned off on routes with known road safety issues.

The County Council, who took on responsibility for highways from Scarborough Council, confirmed the plans would have to go through a consultation period with various bodies before any changes were made.

Scarborough Council yesterday said no process to discuss the plans was under way, with a spokeswoman adding the county council had yet to approach them on the potential changes.

County Cllr Gareth Dadd, Executive Member for Highways and Planning Services, said a consultation process would be pivotal to delivering savings.

He said: “It is important that the police and the local parish or town councils are involved in the assessment process to ensure that only non-essential street lights are removed or switched off for part of the night.”

A statement from the county council added: “A full review of all 48,000 County Council-owned street lights is now being undertaken.

“Lights which are no longer required will be removed, and the rest will be assessed to determine the appropriateness of switching them off for part of the night.

“The technology required to switch street lights off for part of the night is relatively cheap.

“If lights are switched off between midnight and 5am, the subsequent savings will pay for the installation costs within three years.

“The project could eventually see almost two thirds of North Yorkshire County Council’s street lights switched off for part of the night when road use is at a minimum.

“This approach would be considered for car parks, bus stations, industrial estates, cycle routes and footpaths, as well as in residential areas and minor roads.”

County Cllr Michael Heseltine, chairman of the working group into the plans, stressed the proposal did not include turning off every light.

He added: “A risk based approach will be implemented and street lights in strategic positions such as roundabouts, junctions, crossings and in areas where crime or anti-social behaviour is an issue, will be unaffected.”

Similar schemes have already been in Leicestershire and Gloucestershire.