Cambridge City Council has announced plans to install more lighting on Parker’s Piece, which has been a prominent concern of the Cambridge University Students’ Union Women’s Campaign in recent years. The move comes as a result of broad support for the trial lighting installed at the end of January.
According to a survey on the issue, three fifths of people – particularly women and children – felt unsafe in the park at night. Over half claimed that the trial lighting installed earlier this year between ‘Reality Checkpoint’ and Melbourne Place had made them feel safer.
The Council have made the decision to install further lights with the support of 75% of respondents.
Parker’s Piece lighting became a key focus of the CUSU Women’s Campaign after several incidents occurred, in which women walking to work in the morning were subject to assaults and indecent exposure.
In January, ‘Reclaim the Night’ marchers began their protest at Parker’s Piece to mark the installation of the trial lighting, after months of complaints by the Women’s Campaign.
Susy Langsdale, CUSU’s Women’s Officer, told The Cambridge Student that she was “thrilled” to hear about the plans, adding that “this decision by the Council will have direct consequences for improving these individuals’ safety at night”.
However, Cambridge City Council Leader Tim Bick has noted that there is still “a significant minority of people who are opposed or have reservations”.
Indeed, lighting was installed originally as a trial as a result of some residents’ reservations concerning the lights’ “obtrusive” appearance in one of Cambridge centre’s beauty spots. This remains a concern, as 17% of respondents objected to the lights, either based on their physical appearance or the fear that they could become obstacles for wheelchair users and cyclists.
Langsdale, however, sees the large amount of support for Parker’s Piece as a gateway for similar installations throughout Cambridge:
“There is still much to do. There are many areas with inadequate lighting in Cambridge such as Christ’s Piece, West Road, along the backs and around much student accommodation within colleges.
“I hope the council continues to increase lighting locally and that colleges follow suit and begin to address the inadequacy of their lighting where it needs to be addressed”.