Cromer councillors warn county: ‘Little sense’ in lights blackout

The lights could be turned off in Cromer in a bid to save money.

The lights could be turned off in Cromer in a bid to save money. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Controversial plans to switch off street lights in a bid to save money are driving councillors in Cromer round the bend.

Cromer Town Council's Works & General Purposes Committee has raised fears on road safety after Norfolk County Council proposed a black out on the town's Overstrand Road.

It has refused to support the 12 month trial on the coastal road amid concerns it could cause confusion among holidaymakers and impact on traffic to nearby doctor's surgery and hospital.

Councillor David Pritchard, who chaired the town council meeting, said: 'The road is a sub-artery in and out of Cromer with inclines and bends so in the interest of road-safety, there is little sense in this proposal.

'In summer months we have holiday-makers unfamiliar with the roads and pavements whilst in winter, darkness falls earlier so wherever our surgery is located, there will be some patients making their way to and from their GP appointments.'

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He added: 'We all agreed that the proposal was not one we could support and asked that our objections are conveyed to Norfolk County Council.'

Cromer Town Council has previously supported a 'lights-out' policy as budgets become strained.

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However, it pointed out new technology had become available to make it unnecessary. And it has urged the county council to have a rethink.

Councillor Pritchard said: 'Our new lights will in future, dim the light after midnight by around 40 per cent but still allow our residents to be safe whether they walk or drive.

'It was the County Council who made myself and other members aware of this dimming technology in street lighting so they really need to practice what they preach and quickly re-think this proposal.

'If they have to make cuts, instead of switching off or removing lights, they should make changes to how these and other light units operate like they have done to their lights on the A146.'

The County Council is responsible for 52,000 street lights across Norfolk and spends over £2million a year on energy for streetlights.

In November 2013, the local authority committed to achieving a 50 per cent carbon reduction across the authority by 2020.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: 'Following site visits and work by our road safety team we believe sections of Overstrand Road do meet criteria for street lights to be switched off so we are currently contacting stakeholders such as the Cromer Town Council asking for their views before anything happens.

'Should a trial go ahead no street lights would be removed, the lights would be turned off for a year after which time the situation would be reviewed. Any lit bollards or lit road signs will remain on.'

The council predicts the scheme could make an annual saving of £1027 in energy costs, £94 in Climate Charge Levy (CCL) costs and 9,696 kWh in energy.

The local authority spokesperson continued: 'We've already taken steps to reduce energy use and emissions by introducing part-night lighting in a number of residential areas including Norwich and dimming some main road street lights. We are also making greater use of LED lighting and a Central Management Systems (CMS) which is computer control of individual lights.

'However, street lights remain a big user of energy which is costly and is a major contributor to our carbon emissions. So we have been looking at whether we can reduce these financial and CO2 costs by turning off lights on roads which have been lit in the past but would no longer meet current criteria for having streetlights.'

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