Concerns over plans to switch off street lights on Norwich Road, North Walsham
Plans to turn off a string of street lights on a major North Walsham road are causing town councillors great concern.
Norfolk County Council wants to switch off, and eventually remove, about 20 street lights along Norwich Road.
The move is aimed at saving cash and reducing carbon emissions.
But North Walsham town councillors believe the county has chosen the wrong place for cutbacks, especially as the stretch is set to become even busier with the first phase of a new 176-home development almost finished on Norwich Road.
They voiced their worries when Matt Worden, maintenance projects manager for the county's community and environmental services department, came to their meeting on Tuesday to explain the proposal.
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Mr Worden said the county council had taken a decision several years ago to halve its carbon emissions by 2020.
It was responsible for 52,000 street lights and a further 11,000 illuminated bollards and signs across Norfolk with energy costs of £2.5m each year.
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Switching off lights for part of the night, dimming them by 20pc on some main roads, replacing them with more efficient LED lights and installing sensors so that they came on and off according to light levels, had all been used successfully in different parts of the county.
But county officers, working with their traffic team and using police statistics, had also identified some places where switching off lights completely was felt to be justified. These sites included Norwich Road, in North Walsham, from its junction with Millfield Road, to the edge of town.
North Walsham town councillor GarryBull asked why they could not be replaced with LED lighting instead.
'Some of this smacks of purely cost cutting,' he said.
'As we are one of the largest towns in north Norfolk, I think there are better ways of cutting carbon emissions than by compromising safety on what is effectively the main road to Norwich for us.'
Jon Witte thought any decision to take away street lights without conducting a traffic survey first would be premature.
Mary Seward asked whether residents would be consulted but was told this would be too expensive.
Mayor Brenda West said she hoped residents would register their thoughts on the town council's Facebook page, and the council would then pass them on to County Hall.
Mr Worden added: 'We are not going to be doing anything until we have listened.'
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