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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Street lights set to be switched off under Cumbria council plan

Cost-cutting council chiefs could leave communities in the dark by switching off street lights.

Some areas of Cumbria may have their lighting turned off at certain times – or removed altogether – despite £7.6m being spent on upgrading lighting.

The county council is planning the investment to install LED bulbs to replace old and worn-out street lights.

Officials estimate the move could save nearly £500,000 over the next four years. But not all of the county’s 45,000 street lights and 5,000 illuminated signs and bollards will be replaced.

Some in areas no longer deemed to need any lighting, and where old equipment means LED lights cannot be fitted, could be removed.

No details of where lights could be removed or where upgrades are taking place have yet been revealed.

But even those areas that do get the new bulbs could have their lights dimmed during periods of “low traffic flows”.

The council is also proposing to switch off some street lights between midnight and 5am.

Members of the council’s ruling cabinet will discuss the proposals when they meet next week.

A spokesman for the authority said some communities “don’t want street lights on throughout the night”.

It comes after the council carried out street light dimming trials in the Scotland Road and London Road areas of Carlisle.

The spokesman said that not a single comment nor complaint was received from residents following the trials.

He added: “A lot of people will often say, ‘why is the light on outside my house at night?’, whereas others might think it may be dangerous if their streets aren’t illuminated.”

Officials will consult with communities before deciding which areas will lose lights and which will receive the upgrades.

It is estimated the changes will save the council £140,000 this year, with savings totalling £290,000 by the end of 2016, and £430,000 the year after.

The authority also says a combination of LED lighting and dimming technology would result in energy savings of around 60 per cent compared with the type of lamps which are currently used.

And the introduction of switching off street lights for some of the night, or permanently removing lighting, would lead to energy savings of between 75 and 100 per cent for those lights affected.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve the plans before a contractor is appointed to carry out the work, which is expected to get underway in August.

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