Wakefield Conservatives call for streetlights to be turned off after midnight to save money

Conservative councillors in Wakefield are calling for streetlights to be switched off late at night to save money.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 5:09 pm
The Conservative group has proposed switching streetlights off in the early hours in a one-year trial.
The Conservative group has proposed switching streetlights off in the early hours in a one-year trial.

The proposal is one of several being put forward by the Tories as part of their shadow budget, in response to the ruling Labour group's own financial plans for the next year.

The Conservatives want the lights to be switched off between midnight and 5am in a one year trial, but say they would only propose it in rural areas where residents specifically want it.

They believe the move would save taxpayers £225,000 in bills.

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Some councils have plunged streets into darkness late at night to save money.

The proposal is unlikely to become a reality however, with the Labour council's leader Denise Jeffery vowing last September that the authority will, "Never switch the lights off".

Other Labour councillors attacked the Tories' plan on social media Tuesday, with public safety cited as a critical factor in keeping streets illuminated.

But Conservative group leader Nic Stansby said: "We'd only look at doing it in areas where the residents have asked for it.

"It's more rural areas where the houses are away from the street that we're thinking about.

"It wouldn't be a blanket switch-off across the district. There are parts of the city that will never be dark.

"We're obviously very concerned about public safety and if residents in an area feel safer with them on then they would stay on."

Other local authorities have plunged some of their own neighbourhoods into darkness to cut costs.

Leeds City Council, which is also run by Labour, moved to an interactive lighting system in 2019, which sees lights turned out in the small hours if an area is devoid of pedestrians at that time.

Leeds bosses said then that there was "no evidence dark streets lead to more crime".

The Wakefield Tories' other proposals include exploring the prospect of providing more council run toilets in high streets and parks.

The council has been criticised in previous years for not providing any public facilities in the city and town centres.

The Conservatives also want an extra 186 grit bins across the district, to help mitigate against icy winter roads.

Other suggestions, which have been put forward in previous years, include building leisure facilities to serve Horbury and Ossett and cutting council funding for trade union convenors.

Meanwhile, the council's Liberal Democrat group has called for more money to be spent on CCTV cameras and cracking down on fly-tipping, in their alternative budget.

Group leader Councillor Tom Gordon, who represents the Knottingley ward, has asked for the council to look into putting a free shuttle bus service on between the town and [email protected] in Pontefract.

Knottingley's own swimming facilities closed in 2017.

Coun Gordon also wants the authority to look into building a new swimming pool to serve the north-east of the district.

Councillors will debate the budget at a meeting on Wednesday, with Labour's proposals expected to be voted through.

Labour's plans include continuing the two hours' free parking at council car parks and employing more park rangers.

To fund these and growing demands on social care and children's services, council tax payers will see a rise of 1.99 per cent, plus a two per cent levy added on to pay for social care.

Local Democracy Reporting Service