Cost-saving street light switch-off scheme expandedBy Jon Nurse
February 18, 2013
A cost-saving scheme switching off hundreds of streetlights across the borough has been expanded to 146 new roads.
The part night lighting scheme turns off street lamps between midnight and 5.30am in a bid to cut carbon emissions and save funds for frontline services.
On Monday night 500 more lights were switched off, a change that could save Wokingham Borough Council up to £9,000 per year.
Around 10 per cent of the 16,000 council-operated street lights are now not powered during the early hours, including lamps along Wokingham’s Woosehill Lane, Bishops Drive and Alderman Willey Close.
Answering whether the expansion of the scheme will just increase the number of crimes and traffic accidents, the council insists on its website the safety and wellbeing of residents is the biggest consideration in the scheme.
Not all lights on each street are switched off, with an extensive exemption list including locations near major junctions, roundabouts, level crossings, speed humps and traffic lights ruling out the majority of lights.
Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for highways and planning, said: “The original part night lighting scheme was a year-long pilot to establish any issues that might arise from the trial.
“During this pilot, remote control mechanisms were added to the original scheme. We worked extremely closely with the police, parish and town councils and borough councillors on the scheme.
“Safeguards were put in place to make sure essential lights were excluded from the scheme and a comprehensive set of criteria was developed.
“An ad hoc review mechanism was also set up with the police when issues arose during the trial. Both these pilots were extremely successful so a decision was made to expand the scheme to eventually cover all roads within the borough.
“This is the next step of that expansion; utilising low energy lights and the remote control mechanism being fitted with the full conversion taking several years to complete.”
As part of the scheme the council is upgrading its older street lights to use more energy efficient equipment and white lighting.
In 2011 The Wokingham Times revealed the borough’s streetlight switch-off had saved the authority £15,000 since 2008, however the trial cost taxpayers £70,000.