Lighting switch off in Whitwick and Thringstone - the facts
A main street in Whitwick which shows how dark it is.
Have you been out in the middle of the night recently?
Strange question maybe but with Christmas and New Year just finished the answer may well be an affirmative.
If the answer is yes you will have noticed how dark everything has become.
You see in the past few months, after midnight, Leicestershire County Council has started turning off street lights.
In essence I don't disagree with the Councils reasoning for switch off, (although I do think implementation has been very poorly handled - little consultation, and the rollout costs are vey high - over £100,000 for Whitwick alone).
But, in fairness, very few people have a need for street lights in the middle of the night, a great amount of money can be saved and there are environmental benefits.
The County Council also rightly identify that for safety some lights need to be kept on. Junctions need to remain lit and so do other areas of potential risk, for example flooding hotspots.
And this is where the problems arise.
I have received calls from a number of residents about lights switched off which should still be on, lights on junctions or where there is some other risk.
And so last night I went to investigate around Whitwick and Thringstone to see for myself if there were problems, and the findings were interesting.
First of all it's astonishing how few people there are out at that time. In the hour I was driving around (between 1.00 and 2.00) I saw less than a handful of cars and absolutely no pedestrians - it really did prove to me why partial night switch off is the way to go.
But it was also disconcerting that a number of small junctions were either completely unlit (Aspens Hollow, Springfield) or partially lit with lamp posts nearer to the junction being switched off (Rosedale, Pares Close and Swallow Dale).
Perhaps worst of all a flood zone, highlighted to the County Council by Whitwick Parish Council, on Grace Dieu Road is completely unlit. It's only a few months since that road was under water and next time it happens (if it happens in the night) noone will see there is a flood there.
We must ensure that just because less people are about road safety isn't detrimentally affected.
Just because a junction is minor doesn't mean that risk is removed and lights can be switched off, in fact, one could suggest that as such junctions tend to service small number of homes on cul-de-sacs a driver could be even more blasé because they are 'nearly there'.
I will be taking my findings to the County Council and asking them to look at the problems.
Any large scale project needs fine tuning to get right and a good solution isn't a million miles away. Let's hope that they listen.