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Kent County Council consultation starts on dimming or switching off streetlights and introducing LED technology

By Paul Francis

Kent’s streetlights could still be switched off or dimmed at night under plans by the county council to replace bulbs with LED technology.

Kent County Council has begun a consultation over a scheme involving installing LEDs in 118,000 streetlights, saying it will in the long term save money for the taxpayer.

The three-year programme - if implemented next year - will begin replacing traditional bulbs on streetlights in residential areas first, followed by main roads and finally town centres.

Kent County Council switched off streetlights to save money. Picture: Ruth Cuerden
Kent County Council switched off streetlights to save money. Picture: Ruth Cuerden

As part of the public consultation, the council says it also wants to hear views on whether there should be part-night time lighting - as it does now - or all-night lighting.

KCC abruptly ended its original streetlight switch-off trial after a long-running controversy over how it was being implemented and widespread opposition.

There were claims the switch-off had increased crime in some residential areas and left people vulnerable.

Under the new ten-week consultation, launched this week, KCC said the initial costs, said to be some £40m, would be outweighed by the £5.2m yearly savings from reduced carbon emissions.

KCC was accused of failing to save any money by switching off streetlights
KCC was accused of failing to save any money by switching off streetlights

Cllr Matthew Balfour (Con), Kent County Council cabinet member for environment and transport, acknowledged there were concerns among residents.

“We are aware some people have concerns about part-night lighting, in particular, it may lead to an increase in crime or the fear of crime.

"We have been working very closely with Kent Police, who have analysed their records and stated they have found no correlation between crime rates and changes to street lighting.”

He added LED technology was more flexible and meant the council was able to review its policy.

KCC switched off streetlights between midnight and 5.30am on a trial basis. Picture: Chris Davey
KCC switched off streetlights between midnight and 5.30am on a trial basis. Picture: Chris Davey

“We want to understand how residents would prefer their street lights to operate. I would, therefore, urge people to take part in the consultation.”

A highly critical report on Kent County Council’s streetlight switch-off published in May says the council failed to consult properly and kept councillors in the dark about the costs.

It concluded the process was tarnished, had the feel of a “tick-box” exercise and lacked transparency.

People can take part in the consultation by clicking here, or requesting easy read or Word versions of the consultation document and questionnaire by emailing alternativeformats@kent.gov.uk or phoning 03000 421553.

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