Epping Forest commuters safety acknowledged in street light switch off

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Concessions have been made over the street lights switch off Concessions have been made over the street lights switch off

Details have emerged of concessions made over a controversial street light switch-off scheme.

The money saving initiative, which has already been rolled out in Chelmsford and Colchester, will see street lights in the district turned off in the majority of roads between midnight and 5am.

But after a councillor questioned the plans,  Essex County Council has agreed to leave street lights on along major bus routes.

Routes in Loughton, Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill will be lit an hour later than initially planned, to allow passengers and drivers to get on and off in safety.

A call for lights bordering areas of open space known to be anti-social behaviour hotspots to be exempt from the plans was refused.

This is due to evidence from Chelmsford showed switching lights off in such areas reduced anti-social behaviour at night.

The decision was made at a meeting on Monday, hours before the lights were due to be switched off.

Loughton Central county councillor Chris Pond formally questioned the decision and asked the council to reconsider.

Another issue raised at the meeting was how easy it will be for emergency services to switch street lights on – a measure planned as part of the scheme.

Cllr Pond said: “Our understanding from 2009 until now was that police and paramedics would be able to make a call to highways and get the street illuminated.

“We’ve now been told that won’t be possible and only very senior officers will be able to arrange a switch-on.

“It’s unlikely to be much use if emergency services have to wait for that to be done.”

Cllr Pond will be raising the issue at another  meeting on December 19 and will argue for those first on the scene to be able to arrange an immediate switch-on.

Lights in residential streets across the district were due to be switched off for the first time on Monday night at midnight, for five hours.

But the formal appeal by Cllr Pond for the launch to be postponed was accepted by the county council’s cabinet member for highways, Rodney Bass.

Epping Forest residents can now expect street lights to be switched off at midnight on January 2.

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