Lights Out! Will your street be one of those in the dark?

The streets could soon be plunged into darkness to help the council cut down its energy bills.

Thursday, 2nd February 2012, 1:29 pm

Selected streetlights are to be turned out between midnight and 5am every night as part of a trial to save council funds.

Kirklees Council is due to begin a pilot scheme affecting 2,000 street lights across the district, saving around £20,000 in energy costs each year, and a further £10,000 in maintenance bills.

An average of 77 street lights in each ward will be turned off and local ward councillors have been asked to choose which streets will be in darkness.

Coun Andrew Palfreeman (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) said safety was his priority when it came to choosing which lights to extinguish.

He said: “We don’t want to make it easy for the criminal element to take advantage during the night. We’re going to have to be very careful and very strategic.”

He added that as long as the council could save money without unduly affecting its services, it was a good thing.

For Batley West, Coun Peter O’Neil (Lab), said he was not looking to turn off street lights in his ward.

He said: “I’d prefer street lights to be kept on. I know money has to be found but there’s different ways of doing that.”

He added that money could be saved through other options, such as turning all the lights off for a set period, and he also plans to consult residents before making any suggestions.

“If people feel there are lights they want to be on we’d be delighted to hear from them,” he said.

Batley East councillor Mahmood Akhtar (Lab) says his ward had turned to council officers to help them with the important decision.

He said: “The council has to have a saving somewhere, it’s affecting everybody, in Kirklees and in other councils as well.

“The sooner we get the details we will be able to get together and discuss, let the officers know and let people know.

“Of course people can come to us with their views.”

If councillors decline to say which lights should be switched off, Kirklees highway officers will make the choice for them.

Keeping all of Kirklees streetlights – more than 51,000 – lit at night costs £1.8m per year, 48 per cent of the council’s street lighting maintenance budget.

In three years’ time this will rise to £2.9m, or 90 per cent of the budget, if no action is taken.

Let us know what you think? Would you like your street lights to be switched off? Contact us, details on page 32.