Lights set to stay off in Filton amid fears for safety

Published on: 18 Oct 2013

Filton Town Council is unlikely to ask for a rise in the parish precept to turn street lights back on for four hours at night.

Lights in the town have been switched off since South Glos implemented its plans to cut costs and lower emissions. Under the scheme, parishes have the option to raise money through the parish precept (the element of council tax levied by the town council for Filton spending) to turn them back on. According to figures from South Glos, the cost to turn the lights back on would be roughly 62p per month per council-tax paying household.

Precise figures are not available but Filton has roughly 1,000 lights and South Glos estimates 600 are on part night lighting. Engineers say the cost to turn the 600 lights back on would be £50 per light, making a £30,000 bill for Filton. With roughly 4,000 homes paying council tax, this would give a monthly extra payment of £7.50 per year, or 62p per month per household.

Since the scheme began in Filton, residents on social media have complained that they do not feel safe returning to home at night. Others have said the lights are being switched off before the published hours - midnight-4am in summer and 1am-5am in winter.

On Facebook, one resident said: “It really is pitch black. My neighbours are in bed when I get home so you don’t even get a shard of light from their lit up rooms.” Another said: “It get’s very dark now we have no street lighting. When I come in from a work callout in the early hours of the morning, it’s like playing pin the tail on the donkey trying to get the key in the front door. It isn’t going be fun when the bad weather comes, or someone falls over the recycling bins in the pitch black.”

At the September full town council meeting, councillors said they were concerned that South Glos was passing street lighting and other services back to the parishes. However Councillor Brian Mead said that if there was a groundswell of opinion, the town council would have to consult with residents on what they wanted to do.

A South Glos Spokesman said: “South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) needs to make significant financial savings and reductions in CO2 emissions over the coming years. This is to meet national spending targets as well as our commitment to reduce the Council’s carbon footprint under European legislation. “The Council currently has approximately 29,500 street lights and 3500 lit road traffic signs which costs £1.25million in energy and creates in the region of 8000 tonnes of CO2. “There is very little in the way of empirical evidence to support the perception that part night street lighting has an adverse affect on crime or accidents. “Our findings mirror the national picture, which is that part night lighting has not had any adverse impact on crime.”

All street lighting is being part nighted except where it is specifically deemed by South Gloucestershire Council to be an area:

• Previously identified with crime, antisocial behaviour, or traffic accident issue.

• Have CCTV local authority/police surveillance equipment reliant on street lighting.

• In close proximity of 24hr operational emergency services sites including hospitals.

• Have formal pedestrian crossings and traffic light controlled junctions (zebra, pelican, toucan, etc).

• Have traffic calming features (e.g. chicanes, speed humps, etc).

• With designated sheltered housing.

• Enclosed (e.g. fenced on both sides) footpaths that South Gloucestershire Council considers all night lighting significantly reduces risk to users.

Time difference

Residents have noted that while the official times for the part lighting are midnight-4am (summer) and 1am-5am (winter), the lights appear to be switching off before the stipulated time.

It is to do with ‘solar midnight’ which shifts around depending on the time of year and does not match midnight by our clocks. Because the streetlights are triggered to switch off at solar midnight it means that in early November they will turn on and off earlier then expected, “on time” in late Dec and later than expected by mid Feb.

Petition launched

A Filton resident has launched a petition calling on South Glos to restore funding for street lighting at night in Filton.

Ken Hoare from The Sidings, said: “South Glos Council has gone ahead with a decision to turn off the street lamps from midnight to cut down on Carbon emmisions and save money.

“I think that after reading a lot of views and comments and seeing for myself how dark it is out there after midnight and listening to a young lady who finishes work after midnight and how she felt unsafe I thought the views of people in Filton should be heard. After going out after midnight on my bike to see for myself I decided to start a petition and get signatures.

“How can money come before the safety of the people in Filton.” The petition can be found at http://petitions.southglos.gov.uk/petitions.ti/lighting

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