Worries over street light switch-off

A Barnstaple councillor says he fears for the safety of many vulnerable groups if Devon County Council goes ahead with proposals to switch off street lighting in parts of the town. Town councillor Simon Harvey spoke of his concern for what will happen in

A Barnstaple councillor says he fears for the safety of many vulnerable groups if Devon County Council goes ahead with proposals to switch off street lighting in parts of the town.

Town councillor Simon Harvey spoke of his concern for what will happen in Barnstaple as the county announced the arrival of the scheme in residential areas of Bideford and Northam.

It is part of an ongoing programme it says could reduce the county energy bill by �450,000 over the next three years.

As part of the scheme, some lights in residential areas will be switched off between 12-5.30am. Main roads and busier areas like town centres will remain lit all night, but some areas may be dimmed where possible.


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So far almost 7,000 lights across Devon have been converted to part-time use. Although the programme is not expected to reach Barnstaple until at least next year, Councillor Harvey says the scheme could badly affect groups such as the partially sighted or elderly.

"It will make a huge difference to those like myself who are short sighted and won't be able to go out after a certain time."

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The fire service also has some concerns, although it supports the rationale behind the scheme.

A statement said: "From a fire safety angle this could create consequences, as many premises (especially dwellings) rely on light 'borrowed' from street lights to assist movement in semi darkness.

"In some cases borrowed light is necessary to assist escape from fire."

A county spokesman told the Gazette no plans had been developed for Barnstaple as yet. Abbotsham and Parkham, however, have now been agreed, while there was provisional agreement with Alwington, Woolsery, Buckland Brewer and Hartland.

He added: "We will develop our plans in consultation with local community representatives and the police. We have had discussions with an organisation that represents the interests of disabled groups in Devon and they have helped inform our approach.

"Some areas may be exceptions if, for example, they are covered by CCTV."

For more information on the scheme call 0845 155 1004 or visit: www.devon.gov.uk/streetlighting.

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