Resident survey on street lights reveals impact

Street lights in housing estates in Lincolnshire have been switched off for part of the night in a county council money saving move. EMN-180220-120059001
Street lights in housing estates in Lincolnshire have been switched off for part of the night in a county council money saving move. EMN-180220-120059001

North Kesteven residents are among those in the county that have shown the least reaction to changes to street lighting in Lincolnshire by the county council.

County councillors are set to be told at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) that North Kesteven had a significantly lower negative response rate than most other Lincolnshire districts with a total of 59.7 per cent of people reacting to the changes negatively - the council received 521 responses (4.60 per 1,000) from that area.

This is compared to a 74 per cent negative response out of the 5,305 people county-wide who answered the survey gathering opinion on the change. They had said they felt a negative or extremely negative impact on their lives and area. This rose to 83.9 per cent in the Boston district.

The results are due before the Scrutiny Review: Impact of the Part Night Street Lighting Policy committee at the County Offices, in Lincoln, tomorrow at 2pm.

Council is currently consulting residents and businesses on the impact of part-night lighting.

The overall Lincolnshire average response rate was 5.5 people per 1,000 population.

Across the county, 13.1 per cent said the lighting changes had had no impact and 12.7 per cent said positive and extremely positive.

The agenda item reports that survey responses ‘indicate a perceived reduction in safety and a perceived increase in actual crime or the fear of crime as a result of the introduction of partnight street lighting’.

It says: “This is linked to the perception that crime rates have increased across Lincolnshire and that street lighting prevents crime.” The responses also, it says, ‘indicate a perception that there has been an increase in car accidents and road collisions since the introduction of part night street lighting’.

“There has also been a reported perceived reduction in visibility/poor driving conditions in areas where the lights switch off at midnight and that drivers are experiencing difficulty with visibility of parked cars in built up areas,” it adds.

The survey highlights a ‘need for reflective road studs on main routes where lighting has been removed or is now part night lit’, it suggests. Personal safety is a big concern it adds, with people noting poor conditions of pavements and other trip hazards.

“There were also a range of fears highlighted from residents about walking home from work in darkness and the duty of care implications,” it says.

Other negative impacts focus on social isolation, forced curfews, an increase in anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping, the effect on the night-time economy and night-time or early morning shift work.

It says positives included the effect on wildlife due to darker nights and a reduction in light pollution.

More than 42,000 street lights have been switched off between the hours of 12pm and 6am across the entire county.

The authority has costed the project at £6.4m to implement, but says it will make savings of £10m over the next 10 years.

It will also reduce LCC’s carbon footprint by 6,254 tonnes, says the council, more than a third of the council’s five year carbon reduction target.

Previous scrutiny meetings, hearing from police and other emergency services representatives have failed to link an increase in crime with the changes - instead saying there was a fear of crime that needed to be addressed.