Mayors respond to fresh calls for return of street lighting at night

“Don’t wait until a woman is attacked – switch the street lights back on now!”

Street lighting

That is the emotional plea from a female shift-worker in East Lindsey, who has urged the county council to think again about women’s safety following Sarah Everard’s tragic death earlier this month.

The worker (34), did not want to be named or reveal details of her route home.

She told the Leader: “I’m frightened every night. It’s horrible. You don’t know who’s behind you, or who might be waiting around the next corner.

Mayor of Louth, Councillor Darren Hobson

“I haven’t a car so I have to walk. I try to vary my route but it’s not always possible.

“I worry every time. Putting the lights back on would make me [and other women] feel safer.

“Don’t wait for someone to be attacked – put them on now.”

The campaign for more street lighting at night time has attracted strong backing amongst our readers.

Mayor of Mablethorpe and Sutton, Councillor Carl Tebbutt

In response to an enquiry from the Leader, Karen Cassar, assistant director for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “I can completely understand why some residents, especially women, might feel concerned for their own safety after Sarah Everard’s tragic disappearance in London.

“I know many women who don’t feel safe alone after dark, even where there are streetlights, and also long before midnight which is when some in Lincolnshire are turned off.

“Unfortunately, the issue of women’s safety is about much more than streetlights.

“In 2018, two years after we made the switch to part-night lighting for some of our lights, the police confirmed they’d found no impact on night-time crime levels as a result of the change.

“They said then, and have said since, that if they ever did have any concerns, they’d let us know and of course we’d work with them to see how streetlighting could help.”

“We also have a system in place for parish, town or district councils to apply to convert any streetlights back to all night lighting for a one-off payment, if they 
think it’s appropriate. To date, only four lights have been converted this way.”

When approached by the Leader, the mayor of Louth, Councillor Darren Hobson, said: “We are fortunate to live in a town which generally feels very safe, where reports of incidents such as those that have received much attention nationally in recent weeks are, thankfully, rare.

“Lincolnshire County Council’s policy of reinstating all-night street lighting on roads that are currently not illuminated throughout the night sets out the criteria which must be met before reversal will be considered and there are significant cost implications which would inevitably fall upon all of Louth’s ratepayers but would not necessarily benefit all, a burden which would need to be carefully weighed.

“That said, if there are particular streets in the town that residents do feel would especially benefit from being lit all night and would therefore provide a heightened sense of security; they are welcome to contact their ward town councillor to discuss and who will collate local information, supporting evidence and suggestions and take forward as necessary. Viability will need to be looked into on a street-by-street basis, and discussed in line with the county council’s policy.”

The mayor of Mablethorpe and Sutton, Councillor Carl Tebbutt, explained why he felt he could not support a bid to bring back the all-night street lights due to the cost implications and doubts about the effectiveness of this measure in improving safety.

Coun Tebbutt explained that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the town council, and said: “While I have every sympathy with any victim of crime, I am unsure leaving footway lighting on all night would have any effect on crime reduction.

“The police themselves have stated that switching off the lights at midnight had no negative effect on crime, violent or otherwise.

“We had, as a town council, looked at taking over the funding of overnight lighting over a year ago but when we approached the county council, the cost to our Council Tax payers would be in the region of £300,000 spread across less than 12,000 parishioners.

“This cost we felt could not be justified for the few people who are on the streets of Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea after midnight.

“Of course, if a more cost effective solution became available then I am sure that the town council would look again at this.”