The next steps have been taken in plans to turn street lights off for part of the night.

Essex County Council is trialling the scheme, which would see street lights in areas outside of town centres and routes to and from stations switched off between midnight and 5am, saving about £70,000 a year.

It has now installed new devices on some street lights in Epping that allow it to switch them on and off remotely and is doing the same across the district.

Melanie Hallen, 33, lives in Beaconfield Avenue, where the devices have been fitted to street lights.

The mother-of-two said: “Just one street light was off the other night and I really noticed it.

“It seems quite eerie out there with no lights on.

“It invites potential thieves. Two people over the road have had their cars stolen and broken into before.”

Her neighbour, Angela Wilkins, 64, said: “I don’t think it’s a good idea, because plenty of burglaries go on here even now.

“If you come home late and they’re off, that’s another thing. So many people come to Epping late on buses and trains.”

In a statement on its website, the council says: “We will carry out consultation with district and borough councils, town and parish councils and the emergency services before any decision is taken on which street lights will be switched to part-night."

But it adds: “The general presumption will be that all county council-owned street lights will be altered to part night operation unless covered by the exception criteria.”

Street lights will not be switched off for any of the night in town centres, around nightclubs, remote footpaths or alleyways linking streets or where the police think a switch-off could lead to an increase in crime.