Swindon residents can't sleep because new streetlights are 'brighter than the sun'

Victoria Bell
·4 mins read
A pedestrian looks up at the new street lights in Swindon, which have been keeping some residents up at night. (SWNS)
A pedestrian looks up at the new street lights in Swindon, which have been keeping some residents up at night. (SWNS)

Swindon residents say they “can't sleep” because new street lights outside their homes are “brighter than the sun”, but the council hasn't got the right software to turn them down.

The new eco-street lamps are powered by LED and were installed as part of a £6.9m council led scheme to help the environment.

But local residents have complained the lights are too bright and it's like trying to snooze “next to Wembley Stadium”.

The lights have been installed as Swindon Borough Council replaces 28,000 lights in the area.

But so far they can't control the brightness - because it is waiting for the software to do so.

Helena Bowie lives with her husband John in Penhill Drive, where the lamps were replaced in the middle of August.

She said: “They are so bright. They’ve got four huge floodlights, and we have three just outside on the roundabout.

“We’re right in the middle of all of it. It’s like living next to Wembley Stadium.

New street lights in Swindon have drawn complaints from residents who say they are "brighter than the Sun" and "like floodlights". (SWNS)
New street lights in Swindon have drawn complaints from residents who say they are "brighter than the Sun" and "like floodlights". (SWNS)

“I’m not against the LED bulbs because of what they’re for, they’re there to be better for the environment. But they’re just too bright. There’s just no shade from them. We’re very annoyed. We didn’t even know they were being put in.

“It’s just been awful, it’s an absolute nightmare.

“You’d think they could dim them a little bit at midnight. What’s the point of putting them up if they don’t have that software yet?

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“We should not have to buy blackout curtains or blinds because the council choose to change the lightbulbs. It’s ridiculous.”

John Bowie is registered legally blind but can see light and shade and is also autistic. Helena says the lights cause him discomfort.

Helena said: “Because my husband is visually impaired, when he steps outside at night the brightness causes his eyes physical pain.

The local authority is upgrading the town's 28,000 street lights to LED lanterns, which it says will consume less energy and reduce light pollution. (SWNS)
The local authority is upgrading the town's 28,000 street lights to LED lanterns, which it says will consume less energy and reduce light pollution. (SWNS)

“He has a sensitivity to light because of the autism, and problems with his sight means the light hurts his eyes as well. It is disturbing him and he doesn’t sleep well anyway, but it is making it worse.

“People might say we should wear an eye mask or get blackout blinds or curtains, but I don’t think we should be forced to do that – for families on a low income, that’s a big cost to struggle with.”

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Other residents are experiencing the same problem and have taken to social media to complain.

David Oakley posted in a community page: “These are bright white and at least four times brighter than original.

People living near the newly-installed lights have voiced their frustration. (SWNS)
People living near the newly-installed lights have voiced their frustration. (SWNS)

“They fitted a cover on the old light as that kept me awake. This is much worse.

“These need to be lower wattage and have diffusers and probably soft white light."

Meanwhile Hilary Care wrote: “We’ve had them fitted and it’s like daylight shining in all the time.

The council has moved to reassure people that newly-installed LED streetlights will be dimmed soon.

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The council website says: “All areas to be lit with new LED lights will be checked to ensure that the light levels achieved comply with the minimum standards of the relevant British Standards.”

A spokesman said: “Upgrading Swindon’s 28,000 streetlights to LED lanterns is a huge programme of work, which will take about 18 months to complete.

"Once installed the new lights will consume less energy, reduce light pollution and will save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

The lights have been installed as Swindon Borough Council replaces 28,000 lights in the area. (SWNS)
The lights have been installed as Swindon Borough Council replaces 28,000 lights in the area. (SWNS)

“Unfortunately, the new lanterns cannot be dimmed as soon as they are installed because this needs to be applied via special software.

“We would like to reassure residents that we are working with the contractor to implement the dimming function as quickly as possible.

“So far streetlights are being upgraded in Moredon, Pinehurst, Upper Stratton, Ferndale , Gorse Hill and Highworth, and a number of the streets in those areas are now benefitting from the dimmed lights.”

“Our project team are happy to help any residents who have been experiencing problems with the new lights."