Poll in favour of leaving street lights turned off

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THE people of Bury St Edmunds seem to prefer chocolate to street lighting, a councillor has claimed.

Announcing the results of the Bury Free Press Great Lights Debate poll, vice-chairman of Bury Town Council David Nettleton said: “People don’t seem to think it worthwhile to do it for an extra 45p a month. It’s the price of a bar of chocolate, but people prefer the chocolate.”

The BFP ran the poll for 10 days in November, asking people to vote either ‘yes’ to paying the equivalent of an extra 45p a month on Council Tax band B and D homes for the lights to stay on between midnight and 5.30am, or ‘no’ if they wanted them off. They could vote using vouchers in the paper or email, which were the most popular, or via Facebook. Only 58 people voted yes while 145 said no.

Thanking the BFP for running the poll, at no cost to the council, Cllr Nettleton bemoaned the fact that so few people bothered to respond.

He told the council’s finance committee on Wednesday: “99 per cent of the readers didn’t respond. The sample is not big enough for us to do anything.

“It seems to me that if the lights are off, people want them to stay off and if they’re on, they don’t want them off. But it seems the majority don’t care.”

Town mayor Cllr Bob Cockle joked that publicising the poll with a large picture of Cllr Nettleton had put people off.

Suffolk County Council estimates it will save £550,000 a year by using ‘intelligent’ lighting and turning some off between midnight at 5.30am.

Some lights stay on, including those around pubs, at large road junctions and level crossings, in town centres with CCTV and in remote alleys.

In Bury, the switch-off was rolled out between August 15 and September 26.

nAt the end of the meeting Cllr Stefan Oliver presented the council with a £1,000 cheque from his District Fund to help finance the council’s free Sunday Christmas shopping bus, which links housing estates with the town centre and runs until Christmas.