‘No safety concerns’ over street light dimming in Peterborough

Proposals to dim Peterborough’s street lights to reduce carbon emissions will go ahead despite concerns highlighted in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 5:00 am

Women have shared stories of feeling insecure when walking the streets after the 33-year-old marketing executive was kidnapped and murdered.

The Government has since pledged to double the size of the Safer Streets fund - which provides better lighting and CCTV - to £45 million.

As recently outlined by the Peterborough Telegraph, the city council is planning to establish minimum street light levels in order to reduce carbon levels as part of its plans to become a net zero contributor by 2030.

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Street lights in Peterborough could be dimmed further under plans from the city council

Last year, the council finished upgrading 17,000 street lights to energy-efficient LEDs.

It then agreed to dim street lights in residential areas by 20 per cent between 9.30pm and 5am, by 20 per cent on traffic routes between 9pm and midnight, and by 40 per cent between midnight and 5am.

Moreover, during the coronavirus pandemic it then rushed through a decision to dim lights in residential areas and on traffic routes by 40 per cent from “switch on to switch of” over a limited period due to the sharp reduction in traffic.

Although the effects of this have yet to be measured, the council intends to progress with permanent dimming as it believes this will not impact on safety.

A council spokesperson said: “Peterborough City Council are committed to permanently reducing the brightness in street lighting following the recent trial.

“Over 24,000 street lights across the city now use energy efficient LED lights and have been dimmed, although the change is barely noticeable to the naked eye. The decision to use LED street lights mirrors many local authorities across the county who are all successfully operating street lighting in this way.

“As well as reducing carbon emissions, LED lights offer flexibility of use. The street lights can be remotely controlled by area. Therefore, if a specific area, such as a remote footpath or cycleway, was of concern, highways would work with the enforcement and prevention team to see how a change of lighting could assist.

“Additionally, money from the Towns Fund bid is being spent on a number of projects which will create, upgrade and enhance our footpaths across the city centre, making it easier and safer for all residents to travel around on foot and by bike.”

Leader of the council’s opposition Labour group Cllr Shaz Nawaz said: “It’s important that we have sustainability at the heart of everything we do. We claim to be an environmental city and every aspect of our decision making should reflect that.

“In terms of street lighting, I feel it is important we take into account safety and welfare. All our residents should feel safe when out and about. Well lit up streets not only give people more confidence, but it also encourages more people to walk the streets.

“As with everything the council does we need to find a balance between cost saving and improving the lives of residents. It is of paramount importance that people feel safe on the streets and we need to do all we can to make that happen.”

Councillor Julie Howell, leader of Peterborough’s Green group said: “If it were the case that woman were only at risk from male attackers after sundown the argument for ensuring that all areas are well lit during hours of darkness would be clearer.

“However, there are many instances where men have attacked women in daylight. We mustn’t lose sight of the issue: male violence against women.

“Our focus as a council must be to gain a better understanding of how male violence against women can be reduced and to put in place measures that tackle the core issue and reduce this type of violence.”