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Safety campaigner Tina Brooker furious as KCC rules out dimmed street lights from consultation

A campaigner for the return of overnight street lighting has accused council chiefs of misleading residents.

Tina Brooker, from Gravesend, said Kent County Council had reneged on its promise that all-night lighting would be re-introduced once cost-effective technology had been installed countywide.

Streets have been plunged into darkness
Streets have been plunged into darkness

Back in January, the authority announced after widespread criticism of its Safe and Sensible initiative in which more than half of its 118,000 light stock was switched off across Kent that although the new light-emitting diodes (LEDs) would be dimmed “a little” after peak hours, all-night lighting was affordable and “here to stay”.

It was then stated in the summer that residents, businesses and communities would be consulted on three options - all-night lighting, part-night lighting whereby streets are plunged into darkness between midnight and 5.30am, or all-night lighting but dimmed between the same hours.

Tina Brooker has campaigned hard over the street lights issue
Tina Brooker has campaigned hard over the street lights issue

However, the online survey launched last week as part of a 10-week consultation process offers just the choices of all-night or part-night lighting.

It does state that views are welcomed on the dimming of lights when roads are less busy but Miss Brooker said it should have been included as a third option, as previously stated.
The 52-year-old, of The Warren, collected more than 11,000 signatures backing her Right to Light campaign and is now urging people to ensure their views are registered.

“The consultation should clearly state all the available options. All-night lighting dimmed to 50% after midnight should be clearly listed. This option is not only the most sensible option but also cost neutral, as previously stated by KCC.

“It covers all bases - public safety, environmental issues and cost savings. I cannot understand why we are letting KCC renege on their earlier promise to Kent residents, which was clearly stated on their own website, that upon implementation of LEDs all-night lighting would return to Kent and was, in their words, here to stay.

Tina Brooker
Tina Brooker

“The cabinet member for environment and transport at the time, David Brazier, confirmed it was of minimal cost, it was what many people wanted and, with the efficient new technology, it was possible.

“We must now all ensure that as many people as possible are informed of this second consultation process and participate.”

KCC abruptly ended its streetlight switch-off after long-running controversy over how it was being implemented and widespread opposition. There were claims it had increased crime in some residential areas and left people vulnerable.

A report published in May was also highly critical of the council, stating it failed to consult the public properly and kept councillors in the dark about costs.
It concluded the process was tarnished, had the feel of a “tick-box” exercise and lacked transparency.

At the start of the latest consultation process, cabinet member for environment and transport Cllr Matthew Balfour (Con) acknowledged the concerns among residents.

He said: “We want to understand how residents would prefer their street lights to operate. I would, therefore, urge people to take part in the counsultation.”
The consultation closes on November 29. To take part go to consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/streetlighting/consultationHome, or request easy read or Word versions of the consultation document and questionnaire by emailing alternativeformats@kent.gov.uk or phoning 03000 421553. Paper versions can also be found in libraries an civic centres.

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