No crime rise since light switch-off

POLICE in Clevedon have said they have not seen a rise in crime since street lights were turned off at night.

Residents have raised concerns about their safety and protection of their property with the switching off of lights between midnight and 5am in the winter and 1am and dawn in the summer.

North Somerset Council has made the move to save money and cut carbon emissions but people have blamed the darkness for recent incidents of vandalism and theft.

However, Clevedon and Nailsea police sergeant Jon Simons does not believe the switch-off has affected crime rates.

He said: “If crimes do occur and it is pitch black it obviously means the chance of getting eye witness evidence is reduced.

“However, even if something did happen at night, the chances of someone waking up, looking out the window and being able to give a good description aren’t brilliant.

“Statistically speaking we have not had a sudden rise of incidents such as criminal damage or antisocial behaviour for what we would expect at this time of year.”

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At a Clevedon Town Council meeting on January 4, Trevor Morgan asked for a letter to be written to North Somerset Council after his daughter’s car was vandalised three weekends in a row.

Mr Morgan, a town councillor who spoke as a member of the public, said: “The last incident happened at about 3am when a disturbance outside was heard by a neighbour. The neighbour couldn’t see anything because it was pitch black.

“I would ask Clevedon Town Council to write to North Somerset Council to ask it to revisit whether it is a cost effective solution in the interest and safety of all who live in the town.”

Other councillors have also been contacted by concerned Clevedon residents and Portishead Town Council also decided to write to North Somerset Council in November after concerns were raised to its members.

Clevedon residents have also called for the street lights to be turned back on following the death of 19-year-old Edward Heal on Christmas Day, who collided with a car in Kenn Road when walking home in the early hours.

Since last summer, more than 8,000 street lights have been turned off across North Somerset and thousands more will go out later this year.

The switch-off has followed a Government-funded programme to replace old street lights. New ones have been fitted with sensors to allow for part-night lighting.

It is thought the switch-off will save North Somerset Council �230,000 in the first two years and reduce carbon emissions.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for transport and highways Elfan Ap Rees said: “It is not just about saving money but about reducing carbon.

“We have targets to reach in terms of our carbon footprint – street lights are an enormous waste from that point of view.

“It isn’t easy to just turn off every other one.

“We are on target and already approving next year’s programme.”

North Somerset Council said it would not comment specifically about the accident involving Edward Heal until the police investigation is complete.