Part Night Lighting (PNL) may at last be improved

Since 2012, the Tories who control Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) with a huge majority, have switched off most street lights from midnight to 06.00.

The main opposition group at HCC (Liberal Democrats) have long wanted more flexibility, particularly in urban areas, like Stevenage, where the night time economy dictates the lights need to be on later/earlier or preferably kept on all night. Some flexibility may at last now be emerging.

The Highways and Environment Cabinet Panel on 14.9.2018 received a very muddled report, particularly on the % reductions in light level proposed, but Cllr. Robin Parker C.C. got the figures corrected, and the situation is that essentially the Panel recommended to Cabinet that:

(a) Although the baseline of lighting level is approximately 11 lux, S/P ratios be applied to reduce it to 8 lux from switch on until 21.00.
(b) 21.00 – 23.00 reduce to 4 lux.
(c) 23.00 – 01.00 reduce to 2 lux.
(d) 01.00 – 05.00 Off.
(e) 05.00 – dawn 8 lux (unless dawn is before 05.00).

Chells Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Robin Parker said “In the winter when people rely much more on street lighting, I get lots of requests from local residents for lights to be left on after midnight. Apart from footpaths (not pavements) I have no power to do this and all my requests for it to HCC have been refused because of the Tories’ policy.”

“Now it seems as if, as a result of our persistence over the last 6 years, we may have won a small victory, in that, if the HCC Cabinet agrees to these proposals from the Panel, a low level of light will be on until 01.00.”

“We asked for it to be until 02.00 but we were voted down again by the Tories.”

“I also asked for the additional cost of keeping on the low level lighting all night – which is what people tell us they really want – but the officers have not yet supplied this information. I will continue to pursue extending the lighting hours further, where residents wish it.”

1. The officers’ report claims all this can be done at no extra cost, because the savings made by dimming the lights for the times given, pay for the lights being on at a low level for longer.
2. Since 2012, county councillors have been able to request that remote footpaths (remote here means more than 5 metres from a carriageway) but not pavements, can be left on all night. Robin Parker achieved this for all footpaths in Chells Division since 2012.

3. S/P ratios effectively mean that by reducing the brightness of the lights, the contrast between the bright patches and the dark patches will be reduced and therefore the dark patches will not look so dark.

4. Tests in practice with county councillors present have been carried out to demonstrate the effect of these changes and all present agreed that the effects are real.

5. Note that full moonlight is about 1 lux.

6. All of this can be done when lights have been converted to LED (from the old yellow sodium type) in the same way that individual lights or sets of lights can be changed remotely by the Central Management System (CMS).

7. Stevenage was the first area to be changed to LED and so will be in the first tranche to have these changes implemented.

8. Implementation is likely following the next HCC Cabinet meeting.

Cllr. Robin Parker C.C. 01438 724 746