Call for safety to go before cash

WORRIED residents are calling for North Somerset Council to put safety before cash over its plans to turn street lights out at night.

Thousands of street lights are already turned off between midnight and 5am in the winter and 1am and dawn in the summer as part of a cash-cutting exercise and more will follow.

The authority says more than �230,000 will be saved during the first two years of the part-night street lighting.

However, at the November meeting of Portishead Town Council, residents called on councillors for support, saying their safety is being compromised and asking for alternatives to be investigated.

Jessica Burden said she and her friends do not feel safe walking home at night.

The 22-year-old from Portishead said: “Many of my friends work in bars, restaurants and takeaways in the town and walking home in pitch black in the early hours causes them grave concern. They now have to organise lifts or taxis to ensure they get home safely which is not easy at that time of the morning.”

Sue Mason, a former town councillor who lives off Down Road, said switching the street lights out before the last bus arrives in town is unacceptable. She added: “A bus stops in Down Road at around 12.15am and without street lights it is difficult for people to see the nearby roundabout, let alone cross the road.”

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Octogenarian John Dixon, who lives in the town’s Victoria Court, said sensory activated lights could provided the answer.

A worried Clevedon resident also contacted the Times about the issue after she was burgled following the light switch-off.

Kay Jefferies of Hill View Avenue said: “This has now made me feel unsafe in my own home and my car has been taken, I cant help feeling that should have the streets been lit they may have not burgled me or at least been spotted by neighbours. Surely street lighting and peoples’ safety is far more important than saving money?”

A notice on the North Somerset Council website says: “Switching off lights during quiet times at night was carefully considered and investigated before we decided to do it across the district.”

However, taking the strong feelings of residents into consideration, Portishead Town Council agreed to write to the unitary authority asking them to investigate the cost of sensory activated lighting.

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