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Quiet Hours Switch-off Planned for Surrey Street Lights

Published on: 18 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 20 Jul, 2016
A Guildford street light that might be switched off between midnight and 5am to save money.

A Guildford street light that might be switched off between midnight and 5am to save money.

By Will Parsons

Up to 33,000 street lights in Surrey may be switched off every night between midnight and 5am as a cost-cutting measure planned by Surrey County Council (SCC).

The five-hour switch-off could be introduced to quiet areas on October 1. It is intended to save as much as £240,000 this financial year.

County Councillor Mark Brett-Warburton

County Cllr Mark Brett-Warburton

Cllr Mark Brett-Warburton (Con, Guildford South-East) said: “There have been reductions to the grants SCC receives from the Government and therefore we are working as hard as possible to reduce the impact it has on increases in Council Tax.

“It isn’t street lighting in particular that is being targeted, but one of many areas across the whole spectrum of services being reviewed to ensure budgets are used as effectively as possible.

“However, the technology in SCC’s street lights means we have the ability to set different lighting patterns, and so because of this, it has been included as an area for exploration.”

The measure, which is being considered due to ever-increasing demand for council services and a simultaneous reduction in government funding, has given rise to concerns over possible effects on motorist and pedestrian safety in and around Guildford.

Opposition councillors are worried about the possible safety issues caused by regularly switching off the lights.

County Cllr Pauline Searle

County Cllr Pauline Searle

Cllr Pauline Searle (Lib Dem, Guildford North) said that, while she understood that the council’s budget was under increasing pressure from limited government funds and an ageing population, she was concerned about the impact such a measure would have on early morning commuters.

“We know many people work night shifts and have early morning starts,” she said. “These residents will be travelling when the lights are off and could be very vulnerable.”

Cllr Searle also suggested that the switch-offs might have implications for Guildford’s night-time revellers: “Guildford has a very lively night-time economy, and though the town centre will not be affected, once [people] travel out of Guildford to go home it could be in an area with no lighting.”

Guildford resident George Proudman said he was concerned for the safety of pedestrians travelling in the dark.

“It probably would increase danger to pedestrians,” he said, “if they’re, say, coming home from nights out or coming back late from work.

“In general I’m against it, but if there are actually valid savings that could be put towards something else that’s as important, then maybe it’s worth it. I’m not passionate about streetlights, but they’re something I’d rather have.

“Ultimately the council needs to decide whether the money that they’ll save outweighs the dangers of turning off street lights.”

Helen Naisby, who lives on one of the quieter streets in Guildford, which might possibly be targeted by such a measure, believed that switching off the street lights was a better alternative to cuts to other services, like Social Care.

“Sounds like a very good way to save money,” she said, “if you can save that much; but I would be concerned about safety if areas are thrown into darkness. It would have to be done in selected areas.

“I think [the measure] would impact me. Not that I’m driving hugely between the hours of twelve and five in the morning, mostly, but maybe [SCC] should think about people walking home on weekends.

“Maybe weekends they could leave them lit longer, factoring in that people go out on late night parties and might be more inclined to be coming home late.”

Roads throughout Surrey will be assessed by council officers over the coming months before the planned implementation of the “Part Night Lighting” in October. As a result, Cllr Brett-Warbuton said that it is not yet clear which roads in the Guildford borough will be affected but the impact on Guildford was likely to be low.

Cllr Searle concluded: “I would hope this will be a trial period, say of sixth months, to be assessed to see that there has been no adverse impact on residents’ safety or crime.”

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Responses to Quiet Hours Switch-off Planned for Surrey Street Lights

  1. Brian Holt Reply

    July 18, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Most of this money could be saved by not having street lighting on during the day time. You see plenty of lighting still on when driving around during the day.

    I was told when new lamp posts was installed a computer will pick out faulty lamps.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    July 19, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Darker streets will lead to more road traffic accidents and more crime.

    Is it not time for central government to increase, and not decrease, the revenue rate support grant and in doing so take the pressure off of the hard pressed council tax payers ?

  3. A Tatlow Reply

    July 20, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    What evidence is there that the crime rate rises if street lights are dimmed or switched off between midnight and 5am?

    Drivers will soon learn to adjust; after all we manage in rural areas.

    Why not inhibit use of intrusive night-long solar and “security” lighting in residential areas as well. Then we will be able to marvel at our entrancing universe again, and get a decent night’s sleep while doing our diurnal birds a favour.

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    July 20, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    If you’re out and about in the wee small hours, carry a torch. Simple.

  5. Jeff Hills Reply

    November 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    If you are a Merrow resident and your lights are going to be turned off and you want them left on, contact your borough councillor and county councillor Graham Elwood.

    He might ask for them to be left on as he has already done so in the small close in Merrow where he lives.

    Cllr Ellwood has responded: “…I have requested lights remain on in a number of roads in Merrow and Burpham. These requests have been made for a variety of reasons…”

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