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Halfway residents in St Katherine Road, Filer Road and Danley Road concerned about Kent County Council switching off street lights

By Emma Grove

A Neighbourhood Watch coordinator has hit out at Kent County Council (KCC) over its decision to switch off some street lights – claiming it’s dangerous for residents.

The authority launched a trial of its part night-lighting scheme at the start of the year and it reached Swale last month.

As part of the pilot, around 70,000 lamps in the county will be partly turned off in the early hours and another 2,500 will be switched off completely.

Harry Aldridge, Pauline Hebel and Neighbourhood Watch coordinator John Tress are worried about plans to turn off street lights

Twelve lamps in part of Halfway have been chosen for part night-lighting, meaning they are now turned off from 1am to 6.30am.

The lights are in St Katherine Road, Filer Road and Danley Road.

KCC has taken the decision as it will save £1m a year, cut carbon emissions by 5,000 tonnes and also help reduce light pollution. But John Tress, 71, who coordinates the area’s Neighbourhood Watch with wife Linda, isn’t happy and says other residents are up in arms.

He fears an increase in crime and is also concerned it could be dangerous for shift-workers walking on the unmade parts of the roads without proper lighting.

Mr Tress, who lives in St Katherine Road, said: “We are extremely worried about it.

“Our concerns are that there’s going to be more break-ins.

“Parts are unmade and get in a terrible state in the winter. There’s a lot of elderly and disabled people and there are still people about at that time in the morning.

“It’s poorly lit in the first place anyway.”

Mr Tress has raised his worries with KCC but says he has been ‘fobbed off’.

KCC’s head of programmed works Behdad Haratbar said the council has been working with police to use their crime statistics and experience to identify sites with a record of crime.

He said: “There is a perception that absence of street lighting will lead to increased crime.

“However, statistics show the majority of burglaries are carried out during daylight hours when householders are likely to be at work.

“We are continuing to work with the police. If there is a negative effect on crime levels or road safety that can be attributed to the absence of street lighting the decision will be reviewed and lights may be turned back on.”

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