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Switch off scheme is not for us

August 13, 2008 12:00 AM
By Mathew Ward in Brentwood Gazette

Lib Dems say no to blackout.

Councillors are seeking reassurances that there will be no blackouts in Brentwood if an energy-saving scheme is rolled out across Essex.

Liberal Democrats David Kendall and Barry Aspinell have called on borough council leader Brandon Lewis to give a cast-iron guarantee that lights in the town will stay on.

It follows the announcement that trials in Maldon, where street lights have been switched off between midnight and 5am, are to be extended.

Brentwood borough Cllr David Kendall said: "While I am concerned about the environmental impact of CO2 emissions, I believe the safety and wellbeing of our residents has to come first.

"There have already been reports of anti social behaviour problems increasing in Uttlesford and Maldon since the trial began and we do not want to see the same on our streets.

"I hope that Cllr Lewis will offer us a swift assurance that a black-out will not come to Brentwood, especially in light of our unique partnership with Essex County Council."

Street lights have been switched off after midnight in Maldon and Uttlesford districts since last year. A report on the trial scheme, due to be published at the end of this month, is expected to say that it has achieved substantial energy savings.

It is also expected that due to the rising cost of energy since the trial began, the value of those savings will have leapt from around Elmillion to around £3million.

Police statistics show that rather than crime and anti-social behaviour rising due to the scheme, they have actually fallen - by half in Saffron Walden and a third hi Dunmow.

Cllr Lewis said: "Street lighting is a county council issue and therefore the decision is not a borough one."

Brentwood's district commander said he was not aware of any suggestion the scheme could be extended to the town.

Chief Inspector Keith Dobson said: "I would expect the police in Brentwood to be fully consulted before any plans like this were put into place in the town, and we have not heard anything about it."