Lights out

16 March 2010
It’s all about the lights this week – mainly about turning them off as councils scrabble for ways to save money. Norfolk County Council started it off, with a proposal that streetlights in some areas be switched off between midnight and 5am. This, apparently, would save £167,000 a year once the implementation cost of £274,000 to install new lamps that can be turned off for short amounts of time had been paid off. The desire to save cash might have overridden common sense. Turning off the streetlights at night? Doesn’t that defeat the object of having them at all? The idea was initially passed by the council’s cabinet, but a three-month consultation is now going on with residents before anything further happens. Surrey County Council is taking a more halfway approach. Instead of turning out the lights, it is planning to just dim them a bit. It is replacing the bulbs in its 89,000 streetlights with more energy-efficient ones and linking them to a dimmer switch in Guildford so they don’t have to be at full brightness at dawn and dusk. The upgrade should save £12 million over 25 years in electricity bills and contract costs. Wigan folk, meanwhile, have been having a good laugh at Wigan Council’s streetlighting strategy. Workers have replaced a lamp post right in the middle of a tree, so that any light will be obscured when the tree produces foliage in the spring.
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