Street lights to be dimmed earlier in the evenings

Street lighting in Melton MowbrayStreet lighting in Melton Mowbray
Street lighting in Melton Mowbray
Controversial plans to dim street lighting earlier in the evening across Leicestershire will begin this month.

The 18-month trial scheme in towns, including Melton Mowbray, will see more than 60,000 lights dimmed to 30 per cent of their possible brightness from 8pm – they currently go dimmer from 10pm.

Exemptions include zebra crossings, vertical traffic calming features such as speed bumps, and steps that are currently covered by lighting. Some areas of town centres will also be exempt.

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Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet approved the earlier dimming proposals in December to save the authority £380,000 at a time when it is facing unprecedented financial challenges.

However, the plan has prompted concerns to be voiced by county residents, with 53 per cent of those who responded to a council consultation saying they disagreed with it, with many citing fear of crime and general vulnerability as their key concerns.

Lead member for transport and highways, Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, is keen to reassure members of the public and he said the council would constantly be reviewing the data from the trial.

He said: “We accept that the consultation brought a mixed response – some had perceived concerns around an increase in crime, anti-social behaviour, and an increase in accidents, but many respondents acknowledge the environmental benefits which this move would bring.

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“We’re aware of the concerns and that’s why we’re looking initially at this 18-month pilot.

"We’ll be constantly reviewing the data we receive and working closely with the emergency services.

"If there are areas of concern, we will consider adjusting the lights back if the evidence supports it.

"At the end of the pilot, we’ll evaluate the data so our cabinet can then decide on the next steps.”

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In addition to the financial benefits, the plan also comes with environmental benefits, say the county council, with a carbon saving of around 260 tonnes.

The authority also has a responsibility to ‘do all that it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder in its area’ and it points out that Leicestershire Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service had raised no objection to dimming the lights earlier.