THOUSANDS of street lights across Leeds are now switched off at night to cut costs, new figures show.
As budgets bite, four per cent of the 94,767 lights in the city are now off between midnight and 5.30am.
The figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, show a stark comparison to 2011 when none were affected.
The cost-saving measure has prompted concerns over accidents and an increase in crime.
The AA warns the risk of deaths on roads without street lights is significantly higher than that on lit streets. The motoring organisation is calling for a national inquiry.
A letter from the AA to the transport select committee about the growing practice across the country said: “The AA had hoped that force of argument, backed up by statistics, Populus surveys and inquest findings, would persuade councils to turn to energy-saving technologies instead of putting late night and early morning travellers in danger.”
A Leeds City Council spokesman said a decision was taken in 2013 to look at which street lights could potentially be switched off in response to the severe budgetary pressures.
He added a thorough consultation was undertaken and a strict criteria was also followed in determining which street lights would be switched off, with safety to the public paramount to these decisions.
He said: “Since the turning off and dimming of certain street lights was agreed, we have continued to monitor these areas and continued to be flexible if any issues arise. This has included turning the lights back on if deemed necessary.”
The council say the initiative will also help to reduce carbon emissions for street lighting by 4.7 per cent per year between midnight and 5.30am.