Cash-strapped council dims street lights to cut costs

Havering borough council says it has been forced to cut back on street lighting
Havering borough council says it has been forced to cut back on street lighting - ALAMY

A near-bankrupt London council plans to dim street lights on main roads at night to cut costs.

Havering borough council said it had no choice but to dim lights on main roads from midnight to 5am as part of drastic austerity measures brought in to tackle a £32.5 million budget shortfall.

It is the latest in a series of local authorities to face a major financial crisis in recent months.

Our Streets Now, which campaigns to end public sexual harassment, said the decision would put women and girls at risk.

“It’s disappointing, but unsurprising, to hear that women’s safety has been an afterthought in plans to cut costs,” a spokesman told The Telegraph.

“We know from research, from our members, and from the experiences of women and girls up and down the country that low and no street lighting poses a risk to their safety.”

Dimming lights ‘risks safety’

Our Streets Now called on the government to take steps to “ensure cost-cutting does not come at the expense” of women’s safety.

A spokesman for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the anti-stalking charity, added: “What we would want to know is to what extent has the council consulted with local people about the proposed changes and how will they monitor the impact of the changes on people’s feelings of, and actual, safety?”

Roy Morgon, Havering borough council’s leader, said 4,000 street lights on main roads would be dimmed and that he “fully recognised the worries around safety”.

“Street lighting on residential roads would remain on full power and brightness,” he said.

A council spokesman added: “The council will continue to light the highway in accordance with the relevant British Standard for street lighting.”

Councils in Bolton, Bracknell, Cornwall and Hampshire have all also voted to dim street lights in recent months.

Mr Morgon has blamed inflation, “reduced income” and insufficient government funding for Havering’s financial crisis and said the council had already sold assets worth £160 million to slash its costs.

“In layperson’s terms, we are effectively bankrupt,” he said.

The Department for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities said it would increase funding for councils by 7.5 per cent in cash terms from April, the start of the next financial year.

“This additional funding has been welcomed by leading local government organisations, but we remain ready to talk to any concerned council about its financial position,” a spokesman said.

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