when Leeds City Council first announced four years ago that it was going to switch off thousands of street light overnight to try and save more than £1m over the next decade, the news was met with some anger and concern.
Now, after the scheme seems to have had some success – with the overall savings already more than the total cost, and no apparent evidence of increases in crime – the authority is widening the great switch-off to include almost 2,000 more units. City bosses are also considering their options in relation to up to 25,000 street lamps, that’s more than a quarter of the total in the city.
This seeming rush to plunge us into darkness for the sake of a few hundred thousand pounds is not limited to Leeds. Reports earlier this year said that 85 per cent of local authorities were dimming their street lights in order to claw back cash for the public purse.
Leeds’s council is keen to point out that some lighting remains on at all times in most streets. But in amongst all these numbers, one small consideration is missing. Most people aren’t out and about on an average night between midnight and 5.30am. But many of us do rely on street lighting to make us FEEL safer, even if it’s just a glance out of the window in a moment of insomnia. Surely that’s not something that any price can be put on?