Street lights could stay for 45p a month

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STREET lights in Bury St Edmunds could be kept on if the town council decides to take them on next week.

Suffolk County Council is investing in a new £2.5 intelligent lighting system which will result in lights being turned off between midnight and 5am. It hopes the move will save nearly £500,000 a year in energy costs and 4,000 tonnes in carbon emissions.

Despite the county arguing that it will have no adverse impact on crime, councillors at Tuesday’s meeting of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Bury area working party, said it will add to the fear of crime and may lead to residents leaving their lights on in a bid to protect their property.

Now Cllr David Nettleton will ask Bury Town Council on Wednesday if it will take on the £51,000 a year running costs for the town’s street lights.

Cllr Nettleton said the cost would lead to a 45p a month increase on Council Tax for band D households.

“As councillors we have a duty of care. The reality is that if a young woman if dragged down an alleyway and assaulted, the first question people are going to ask if was the area lit. Suffolk County Council are living on a knife edge. It is bad politics,” he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the county’s electrical services manager Richard Webster said he would work with councillors to ensure lights in certain area stayed on – but he also said it would be ‘need to take a balanced view.’

Cllr Bob Cockle who represents the St Olaves ward said people will question where their Council Tax is going while Moreton Hall Cllr Trevor Beckwith said: “The police will tell you it is not crime, it is the fear of crime and this will do nothing to help.”