Lights go out in Warwick district as the debate over savings and safety continues

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MIXED reactions have greeted the new dark way of life across Warwick district, as on December 1 the area became the first in the county to have the vast majority of its street lights turned off at night.

Warwickshire County Council last month approved a plan that will see 80 per cent of the county’s lights switched off between midnight and 5.30am by April next year.

First to be affected was Warwick district, which went dark at midnight on Friday night into Saturday morning, while Nuneaton and Bedworth and Rugby will follow in February and North Warwickshire and Stratford will go dark in April.

The actual operation of switching off has been hailed a success by the county council. County councillor Peter Butlin, responsible for policy on highways and transport, said: “The first phase of the switch to part-night lighting in Warwick has been implemented over the weekend and has gone as well as we anticipated.

“We had engineers working overnight to supervise the switch over and make any adjustments as necessary. The new central management system means we can control the lights in the event of an emergency and we are constantly monitoring and reviewing local situations as we proceed.

“After taking the decision to go to part-night lighting, as many local authorities across the country have done, the county council is now beginning to make the budget and carbon emission savings we set out to achieve.”

But when the Courier approached people in Leamington to ask them about the idea, not everyone was happy about the change, with many worried about their safety (see panel on the right and the letters page).

Meanwhile Kenilworth resident Mia Bastock, 25, said that she was punched in the face by a man in Clarendon Road, Kenilworth, on Friday night. She added that the man and another man who he was with then ran off, shouting back to her that she would not be able to do anything about the assault because she could not see them in the dark street.

The county council says the new part-night lighting will save the authority £500,000 a year and reduce its carbon emissions by 3,000 tonnes per year.

To find out which areas are affected by the change, go online