Bid to keep streets lit with council funding

Sherilyn Chew 14 January 2016

A Cambridgeshire county council meeting this week narrowly rejected a proposal to dispense with the county-wide streetlight switch-off.

The county council instead agreed to channel almost £100,000 extra to keep the streetlights around Cambridgeshire on until 2am, rather than midnight, as originally planned. 

The announcement comes after the Cambridge city council released its Budget Setting Report (BSR) 2016-17 last week, offering a bid of £45,500 to keep the streetlights in Cambridge on. 

The city council proposes to fund the period between 2am and 6am in the city if the county council will fund the period from midnight to 2am. 

The proposal is on the basis that “lights in the city centre and University areas, including immediate walk/ cycle to home routes, and from other key locations, will be kept on with a maximum of 20% dimming, and will be funded by the county.” 

However, “all other lights in streets currently proposed for switch off in the city…[will] be kept on with a maximum dimming of 50%.” 

Commenting on the city council’s bid, Charlotte Chorley, Women’s Officer for CUSU, said: “The city council’s bid to keep the streetlights on, especially in areas densely populated by students, is an encouraging and positive step.” 

“Following on from a strong campaign by students, the bid is testament to their action and determination, and I stand in solidarity with those campaigning for student safety.” 

The Leader of the Cambridge city council, Councillor Lewis Herbert, has commented: “The county proposal is to cut street lighting irrespective of need – whether it is Romsey or Ramsey, or an isolated rural cottage in the middle of nowhere.” 

“The public safety case for lighting Cambridge streets throughout the night is overwhelming for people whatever the time…and we think people should be safe in the knowledge that the lights will stay on.” 

Commenting to The Cambridge Student, Lynda Kilkelly, Safer Communities Manager for the Cambridge city council, said the bid was motivated by concerns about “the safety of the public if the original proposal went ahead”. 

These include “the large student and young population living in the city centre who walk and cycle home late at night”, and the “use of green spaces as walking and cycling routes at night”. 

She also cited the need for community safety hotspot areas and CCTV areas to be well lit, and the need to consider “the range of workers who travel to and from work in the hours between midnight and 6 am.” 

“However, it may be that in quiet suburban residential streets that the dimming of lights may have less of an impact and this will be considered within the negotiations.” 

The proposals will be considered by a full council meeting in February.