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'I fear other people attacking me' - Calls for Norwich street lights to be turned back on at night

PUBLISHED: 08:57 08 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:31 08 February 2017

The street lights in Avenue Road, Norwich. Picture Denise Bradley.

The street lights in Avenue Road, Norwich. Picture Denise Bradley.

©Archant Photographic 2009

A campaign has been launched to get residential street lights turned back on in Norwich after a survey found that people living in the city felt unsafe walking home.

In recent years Norfolk County Council has switched off street lights between 12pm and 5am across the county as part of a pledge to halve its carbon emissions by 2020.

But a study by the University of East Anglia Students’ Union found that 56pc of the students who live in the city have experienced street harassment or have been followed whilst walking home at night.

Currently 2,500 street lights are turned off every night across Norwich and the Student Union is now petitioning the council to keep certain residential street lights on for longer in the city.

The petition states: “We believe that Norwich residents should be able to walk home at night without being scared, unsafe or uncomfortable.

“Young working professionals and students are often the ones walking home late at night, whether that’s from the library, their work in the city or a night out.”

The research, which was conducted last year, saw 350 students respond and many of them gave anonymous accounts of feeling unsafe at night.

One female student said: “If I’m walking after a certain time there are very few lights and I fear other people attacking me.”

Another added: “...street harassment is really bad in the area between the city centre and Magdalene Street.”

Jo Swo, welfare, community and diversity officer at the UEA, is one of the driving forces behind the petition and said the aim is get a discussion started about the issue.

“We are not demanding that all street lights should be switched on, we just want a discussion to be had amongst the Norwich community so maybe the lights could be switched on Thursday, Friday, Saturday night when a lot of young people work,” she said.

“We have heard from a lot of city councillors who have strong views on it but it is Norfolk County Council which came up with the scheme which is wrong as many of their councillors do not even live in the city.”

What the council said

Norfolk County Council is responsible for approximately 52,000 street lights and currently spends more than £2million a year on energy for them.

Thirty-five percent of the street lights in the county are now subject to part night lighting and since 2010 almost 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been cut and the saving in energy bills has been more than £750,000.

The council stated that the lights are only switched off in low crime areas and since the scheme has been in place there has not been a significance increase in crime.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: “To cut CO2 emissions and save money, we have adopted part night lighting in low crime areas where there are low levels of through traffic.

“We carefully consider where to introduce part night lighting and would not consider turning off lights in subways, alleyways, town centres, near 24 hour operational emergency services such as hospitals and fire stations, where there are CCTV cameras, and on roads where lights have been put in specifically to prevent accidents.

“The latest report from Norfolk Police in January 2015 confirms that there has been no significant impact on crime and safety in areas where part night lighting has been introduced.

“We will, however, continue to monitor the situation and make any local adjustments if the circumstances change within the existing policy.”

• To sign the petition visit www.change.org/p/norfolk-county-council-light-up-norwich

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