Some lights could stay on until 2am on Hertfordshire streets

PUBLISHED: 08:53 07 June 2020

Currently, street lights in Hertfordshire are kept open until 1am. Picture: Pixabay.

Currently, street lights in Hertfordshire are kept open until 1am. Picture: Pixabay.

Archant

A scheme that could keep the lights on until 2am on some Hertfordshire streets has been backed by the county council.

On Wednesday, a meeting of the county council’s special cabinet panel agreed that lights could now stay on, in certain streets, for an extra hour where there is “local justification”.

That ‘local justification’ criteria will apply to certain routes that run to and from transport hubs, hospitals, significant businesses or entertainment venues, which operate until 2am – if a request is made from a local county councillor.

Executive member for highways and environment, councillor Phil Bibby, said the “transparent, understandable and realistic” criteria would ensure the extended lighting was where it was really needed.

“We don’t think the public want us to turn lights on after one o’clock as a general strategy, so therefore that is not what we are offering.”

The cost of extending the lighting hours in these instances would be met by dimming the same lights by 50 per cent between the hours of 5am and 6am.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst said all street lights should be dimmed for that hour with immediate effect – to cut down carbon emissions and save costs.

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And while the panel voted against the idea, it was agreed that officers would bring a report on the effect of dimming all street lights between 5am and 6am to a later meeting.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst told the meeting it was “ludicrous” that the lights were fully on between 5am and 6am – whereas lights after 10pm were already dimmed.

And he said had the lights been dimmed between 5am and 6am since February 2018 – when it was suggested by the Liberal Democrats – CO2 emissions could have been cut by 436 tonnes and costs to the council cut by £100,000.

“Irrespective of whatever other decision you make today we should be making that effort to reduce carbon emissions and making that saving – which is also a financial saving to the authority.”

Responding, Cllr Bibby said the dimming was a possibility that would be reviewed in the future but it would not be appropriate to bring it in “overnight.”

Executive member for resources and performance Cllr Ralph Sangster said it was important that council officers had the opportunity to assess the implications before a decision was taken.

He said: “When you are trying to amend a paper like this that had a lot of consideration and calculation into its proposals, to try and amend – without giving officers the chance to review the amendment and consider the implications of it – is making policy on the hoof.

“We need to give officers an opportunity to come back and give full implications of what it is we are proposing and any pluses and minuses and make a decision that is appropriate at the time.”


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