The Conservative dominated Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) is now carrying out its threat, first highlighted and challenged months ago by local Liberal Democrats, to turn off around 80% of our street lights over night, from 12 midnight to 6.00 in the morning. The big switch off will start in Stevenage around the second week in April. Other areas of Hertfordshire have already been done or will soon follow, so that by the summer of 2012 all areas of the county will be dark overnight. The project is called Part Night Lighting (PNL).

Stevenage Liberal Democrats have today launched a petition, addressed to the Conservative HCC:

“We the undersigned urgently demand the Conservative controlled County Council re-think the policy of part night lighting for Stevenage.”

Local Liberal Democrats hope to attract as many signatures as possible – will you please sign?

For starters, Liberal Democrats will be at The Glebe on Saturday 10 March from 10.00 am, with copies of the petition and a map showing which areas will be affected. If you would like a copy of the map please click here Chells Manor Lights

Or, you can sign on line at:  Part Night Lighting Petition for Stevenage

Local Liberal Democrat county councillor for Chells, and borough councillor for Manor, Robin Parker, said: “The Conservatives are turning off street lights at night because they claim it will save money, but the switchover is costing £4.3 million countywide, and even if all the projected savings are made, it will still take over 4 years to recover the cost. Meanwhile, we will be in the dark, and this will cause problems for people, for example, late night or all night or early morning workers, as well as those sensibly walking home after a night out. Turning lights off may be OK in certain rural areas, but in a busy urban environment like Stevenage, it is a false economy. How much will HCC have to fork out (from council taxpayers) to meet personal injury claims from trips in the dark?”

“Liberal Democrats suggested a later switch off, particularly in busy pedestrian areas like some town centres, but the Tories refused this.”

“County councillors have very limited power to adjust the policy in their area. At the first opportunity, following publication of the plans for Stevenage, I arranged an urgent meeting last week with HCC officials about this and I asked for all busy road junctions in my area (Chells Division) to be lit as normal, but HCC officials have already refused this. The reason given is that the roads will be used by locals, who should know about these junctions.”

“I also have the ability to request that footpaths (not pavements alongside roads) be lit as normal and this I intend to do – but first, I wish to know if this is what local residents actually want.  Please let me know.”

“When the policy was first announced at HCC, only the 17 Liberal Democrat county councillors challenged the policy of PNL. The 3 Labour county councillors are officially recorded as saying nothing.”

“When Liberal Democrats again raised the issue at the full county council meeting on 21 February, a female Conservative county councillor told residents to ‘buy a torch’.”

“This is no way to treat the concerns of residents, some of whom are very worried about Conservative cuts.”

Manor borough councillor Graham Snell added: “I intend to collect as many petition signatures as possible, to try and convince the Tories to change their minds on this.”

Note 1: Liberal Democrats at HCC have repeatedly suggested alternative savings to the Conservatives.

Note 2: Stevenage, unlike other areas of the county, has had all night lighting since the early 1970s, when street lighting came under Stevenage Borough Council. It changed to HCC in October 2002.

Note 3: Some lights will remain on all night. This includes A roads, lights near zebra crossings, lights near some shops, lights needed for CCTV and lights requested to remain on by the police. Lit road signs will stay on.