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Lights to go out across region as councils cut back
STREETS across the North-East could be plunged into darkness as cash-strapped councils look to slash energy bills.
Authorities have confirmed they will dim lighting on main roads and in residential areas during the long winter months in a bid to save cash.
However, no council said it would introduce permanent blackouts, and lighting will remain in areas with high crime rates and poor road safety.
The moves have been welcomed by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who said it could ease the heavy financial burden on councils and reduce the knock-on effects upon residents.
North Yorkshire County Council, which faces yearly bills of £1.6m to run 50,000 lights, aims to save £400,000 by switching off 60 per cent of its lights between midnight and 5am, including on the A63 Selby Bypass, dimming brightest lights during periods of lowest road use, and removing lights in areas deemed safe.
County Councillor Michael Heseltine, chairman of a working group of the Transport, Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, assured residents the proposal didn’t include turning off every light.
Stockton Council will dim 8,000 lights to make estimated savings of about £200,000 a year and Middlesbrough Council confirmed it has already installed dimming to high mast lighting on the A66 after midnight.
Durham County Council is currently dimming about 50 street lights in Framwelgate Peth, in Durham City, with about 1,900 lights also turned down on the A167 from midnight to 5am.
A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council confirmed it had previously dimmed lights.
She said: “We are working jointly with other councils to reduce street lighting costs and this includes using the most energy efficient equipment and has included some dimming of lighting during the night. “In the future, LED lighting may be used in residential areas.”
Hartlepool Council said it had no plans to dim or switch off street lighting.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “There is a balance to be had because lighting is one of the basic services people expect from their council.
“There can be cases made to switch off lights on roads where they aren’t used often, but that has to be placed alongside thoughts about safety.
“It has to be done properly; councils cannot just push this through.”