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As street lights go out, see engineer Andy’s bright idea to keep yobs at bay in Prospect Place, Gravesend

By Nicola Jordan

Electrical engineer Andy Moir has rigged up his own floodlight to stop his road in Gravesend being plunged into darkness now that council street lamps are switched off at night.

Mr Moir has installed a powerful lamp outside his home in Prospect Place to deter yobs who, over the years, have cost him thousands of pounds worth of repairs.

Kent County Council pulled the plug on street lighting in some minor roads after midnight
as part of a money-saving exercise.

But Mr Moir would rather pay out the estimated £10 a week in electricity than face massive bills caused by vandals.

Lighting expert Andy Moir has installed his own powerful street lighting after KCC pulled the plug on lighting after midnight

Divorcee Mr Moir, 42, said: “It may look a bit like the M25 at night, but at least we feel safe.

“We have suffered a spate of vandalism over the years. I have had my van broken into and the contents stolen twice. My car has been keyed and I had to pay £1,000 getting it re-sprayed.

“We had CCTV installed, but it was useless because it was pitch dark out there.”

After consulting with neighbours, lighting expert Mr Moir, who runs his own company Lasertex from his home, decided to resolve the problem himself.

He has wired up a 200 watt low pressure sodium lamp onto the rafters of his roof which beams out on to the road.

He said: “I have lived here about 20 years and we have had street lights here from dusk till dawn for the past 60 years. We were not informed about these changes.”

Mr Moir’s neighbours are supportive of his home-made lighting system.

Lal Amrid, 73, and his wife Pushba, 78, who have lived there for nearly 20 years, said they felt safer.

Mr Amrid, who has recently suffered a stroke, said : “I think it’s very helpful and considerate of him. I don’t go out much but it was quite worrying being in the dark.”

Scores of people in Swanscombe have signed a petition to say they were not consulted properly about the decision to switch off street lamps at night.

Started up by Swanscombe resident Corinne Baker, 30, the petition gathered 262 signatures in less that 24 hours after it was started.

Miss Baker said people in the area were not properly consulted by Kent County Council or Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council.

KCC says 75% of residents consulted backed the Safe and Sensible Street Lighting initiative that will cut off around 70,000 lights – 60% of the county’s 120,000 lights

She said: “They’re saying 75% of residents were for it but no one knows anything about it.

“Most of the people want the lights switched back on until at least we’ve had a chance to say what we want.”

Notice of the three-month consultation featured on the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Council website as well as in the Messenger, on our website, Kent Online, and our radio station, kmfm.

Cllr Steve Doran who represents Swanscombe on Dartford borough council, aims to take the petition to KCC to discuss the decision.

She said: “With the high crime rate here, we don’t think Swanscombe was an appropriate place to be involved with the scheme.

“Not everyone, including a lot of elderly people, are computer literate and don’t have access to the internet.”

To view the petition log on to www.petitions24.com/signatures/swanscombe_street_lighting/

KCC said the vast majority of people were in favour of switching off street lamps to save money and energy.

It says 75% of residents consulted backed the Safe and Sensible Street Lighting initiative that will cut off around 70,000 lights – 60% of the county’s 120,000 lights – between midnight and 5.30am, or 1am and 6.30am during British Summer Time.

It will save £1million a year, cut down on 5,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually and reduce light pollution.

Lights will not be cut off in town centres, busy road junctions, roundabouts, anti-social behaviour areas or places with CCTV.

David Brazier, KCC cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “We consulted widely on this, and it’s obvious there is support for the idea of reducing energy use and for the hours we will part-night light.

“Our approach has always been a common sense one –– we don’t need to light street lamps when they are not being used.”

For details log on to www.kent.gov.uk/streetlights

There is also an interactive map so you can see what areas are affected.

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