'turn our street lights back on' report

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‘TURN OUR STREET LIGHTS BACK ON’ REPORT
IN RESPECT OF
THE PART-TIME LIGHTS SCRUTINY MEETING
TO BE HELD ON 1ST OCTOBER 2013
BY
SUZANNE ALFORD AND DANIEL GRAHAM
FROM THE
FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN GROUP
‘TURN OUR STREET LIGHTS BACK ON’
DATED: 18/9/2013
‘Turn our street lights back on’ Report - for the Part-time Lights Scrutiny Meeting on 1st October
Page 1
Terms of reference:
Further to a Government initiative to cut public spending costs due to the recession and also
reduce CO2 emissions as required by the EU, many counties councils’ around the UK have
subsequently reviewed their street lighting needs, amongst other services and facilities, and
deemed this a suitable area to help achieve these goals and they have now applied a number of
measures to satisfy the Government and EU’s requirements, resulting in a number of counties
turning off residential street lighting late at night.
Specifics of our Complaint:
In Hertfordshire a decision was made by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to turn residential
street lights off between the hours of midnight to 0600 hours since November 2011. In our area,
which covers Borehamwood and surrounding local areas, this happened without any notification
or consultation with our Communities and without giving us the opportunity to mutually explore
other alternative options and have ownership of this initiative. It was these key aspects that
residents have found to be unforgiveable, although we understood the aims of this initiative.
Who we are and our response as a campaign group:
Consequently as a result of this initiative by HCC and its impact on the Borehamwood and
surrounding areas residents, a Facebook Campaign Group was set up called ‘Turn Our Street Lights
Back On’. We currently have 1380 members (*Appendix A1). We also set up a petition on the
Hertfordshire County Council website and this attracted 5562 signatures (*Appendix A2). This
report is being written and submitted on these people’s behalf.
A door to door petition carried out on the Farriers Way Estate, Borehamwood, very easily
collected 500 signatures opposing these part-time street light measures, with only 2-3 people
agreeing with the street lights being off. Thereby this indicates a 99% opposition in this area alone.
These residents still ask now why nothing is being done to help them and their families including
teenagers and shift workers and so on, who are impacted by this initiative on a daily basis.
Current Status
We understand from a recent article dated September 2013 in the Borehamwood Times, that the
current status of this initiative has been deemed a success in the eyes of HCC, in achieving both
cost cutting and reducing CO2 emissions and that is indeed great news for them. However this
‘great news’ comes at a price to us residents and in our opinion HCC has totally neglected its ‘duty
of care’ to our Communities and disrespected and ignored our requests to have more effective
night time street lighting – which we hope will now be finally heard during this scrutiny meeting.
HCC has shown no concern for our wellbeing and social care needs that we taxpayer’s have come
to expect in this modern age, in respect of looking after those people who are out and about
during those hours. We are a 24/7 society and there are shift workers, emergency services,
support services, milk deliverers, teenagers, vulnerable and mentally ill people and so on out and
about during the night and we need appropriate and cost effective street lighting to allow for
these people to move about freely, safely and without fear and also for householders to feel safe
‘Turn our street lights back on’ Report - for the Part-time Lights Scrutiny Meeting on 1st October
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within and without their homes and for any property e.g. cars etc, outside to be in an
appropriately lit environment where possible.
It was reported on our Facebook Campaign page and verified by a Neighbourhood Watch email
message sent from PCSO Barker, that eight burglaries occurred on or around 10th September 2013,
overnight in Aberford Road, Chandos Road, Theobald Street, Badgers Close, Anthony Road and
three in Croxdale Road – these are all addresses in Borehamwood. See Appendix D. Plus over the
course of the year a number of members of our campaign group have experienced or seen
evidence of other incidences of crime or anti-social behaviour during the lights off time.
Findings Part 1:
Campaign Group Findings, Impacts, Concerns and Views:
As a Campaign group our findings and views are as follows:
1) Lack of communication and consultation issues: Total lack of engagement and failure and
total disrespect by HCC in not consulting us taxpayers or having any consideration for
residents prior to this initiative being implemented as a ‘fait accompli’, which we have
found to be wholly undemocratic and in fact dictatorial.
2) No alternative options: No attempt to work with the tax-paying public and discuss and trial
other alternatives - despite many options being available e.g. alternate lights fitted with
sensors, alternate sides of roads with lights off and on, solar energy, lights on till 1am and
again at 5am, more eco-friendly lights/bulbs, sponsorship of street lights by local
companies etc. All around the globe there are many countries in both the developed and
developing worlds trying out new street lighting ideas!!
3) Numerous health and safety issues: This is a blatant breach here of any normal health and
safety 'duty of care' rules that you would find in any H&S manual i.e. which always state
operate in 'well lit/appropriately lit conditions' - it never states 'operate in pitch black
darkness'. Also our roads, kerbs and pavements are far from well maintained, plus there
are many other unknown obstacles, hazards e.g. potholes and wildlife and badly parked
vehicles for walkers or cyclists to incur on every journey.
As for impact on our health - being outside in pitch black darkness is very psychologically
stressful. There are noises such as leaves rustling but the person concerned won’t know if
that is the case or if it is wildlife such a fox, hedgehog, rat or a person. It is quite simply a
terrifying experience and often this person will be all alone - they may have a torch, they
may not, they may have several bags etc to carry or a pushchair or walking stick or
whatever and can't hold a torch or a battery goes flat mid journey. Sometimes people
don’t know that they’ll be out late or are visiting a friend and don’t know the area or that
the street lights go out.
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It’s also not just women who are terrified to walk during these hours in the dark but the
majority of men also don’t like it. It is also a human need to be able to see your immediate
environment for hazards and dangers etc. Parents get very anxious about their teenage
children who now need to be picked up or get taxi’s home.
4) No allowance for flexibility: There is no allowance for flexibility with having our current
street lights turned on all night (unless faulty) because they now have fitted sensors. So our
street lights are turned off regardless of celebration or environmental conditions e.g. Guy
Fawkes Night, Christmas and New Year and during bad and dangerous weather conditions.
5) Discrimination: It discriminates against people/workers who are out at that time and
definitely discriminates against many females who out at that time, who are typically low
paid shift workers e.g. carers/nurses etc. who may now need to pay for buses/taxis when
in the past they would have happily walked to work etc. Needless to say 9am to 5pm
workers, including many Councillors making such decisions, will enjoy a pleasant journey to
work and back home in day light or street lit hours and won’t have a clue about the perils
of being out after midnight or before 6am!
6) Lack of common sense regarding modern society and transport network timings: We are
now a 24/7 society and this has been ignored. No allowance has been made for the fact
that our buses run until 0030 hours, the last train comes in at 0100 hours and buses and
trains run from 0500 hours and such travellers who are walking have to make their
remaining journey in pitch black darkness!
7) Criminality and Accidents: If there is no evidence of increased criminality in blacked out
residential areas then why do the Police continue to advocate 'being seen' and
advise parking in well-lit areas and installing external security lights. If there is no increase
in criminality or accidents due to turning the lights off, why leave any areas lit at all?
Is it because town centres and commercial properties are worth more than the health,
safety and security of private tax paying residents perhaps? Blacking out residential areas
while keeping town centres lit is contradictory and a double standard. And if it’s so
effective when will the whole of London be blacked out? Although it is noted that
Westminster Council already have LED street lighting in place since 2007 and probably
won’t be turning their lights off after midnight!!
8) Violation of freedom of movement: We are effectively curfewed - our freedom of
movement has been violated. Many people have to cut short their evening out to now rush
home before midnight so a) they can see where they are walking if on foot and b) be able
to park their cars and walk to their front doors safely.
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9) Issues about relevant data, statistics and communication of data:
i)
Accident statistics: As members of our campaign group we have some concern over
what data and statistics are available in relation to street lights being off in terms of
accident statistics from hospitals and GP’s. Where is this information?
ii)
Accuracy of Police and Fire Data and communication of crime etc: Whilst we
receive crime and fire statistics at various council meetings, as we the public don’t
have access to the raw data, we don’t know what incidences are or aren’t included.
We all know that data and statistics can be skewed/manipulated to state whatever
an organisation wants to conclude. So there is a real issue here of the public having
‘dis-trust’ issues regarding such information!
iii)
Poor, ad hoc communication of crimes and incidences: For example: Eight
burglaries occurred overnight in Borehamwood (North) on 10th September but that
information hasn’t appeared in the online editions of the local paper and our local
reporter wasn’t aware until it was mentioned to her, it was only on a
neighbourhood watch email sent by the police to people in that specific area of
Borehamwood (North), which was subsequently accessed eight days later by
ourselves where we found these alleged crimes had actually happened and weren’t
just a rumour. So basically none of us in the wider community know the true raw
picture as to what is happening in terms of crime in the whole of Borehamwood
and from there we don’t know when we are shown crime data, how correct this
information is, or what crimes/incidences have or haven’t been included and which
ones have happened because the lights were turned off? and if any figures have
been ‘massaged’ in any way e.g. will these 8 burglaries be recorded as eight crimes
or the work of say one criminal? And would street lights being on have deterred the
thief/ves?
10) Finally some words of truth: On speaking to the police we typically get their official line on
the street lights being off and that this makes no difference to them but when we’ve had
unofficial words with police individuals they have very much admitted it doesn’t help and
the street lights being off is a hindrance as they literally can’t see what’s out there. For
example, if looking for a criminal or a vulnerable missing person, precious time could be
wasted due to operating in pitch black conditions (even if using a torch), whereas street
lighting would light up a bigger area and would allow for a quicker response time which
could make the difference between life and death in some situations.
11) Issues about the true and hidden costs and savings: HCC have stated the figures of the
cost savings and CO2 reductions, but where is the data on what ‘hidden’ costs have now
been transferred back to individual residents to pay? (on top of the council tax they are
already paying and for which they are getting less services and poorer quality of services)
e.g. the increase in individual’s paying out for their own security lighting/cctv systems,
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increase in torches and batteries (we have a population of 1 million residents in
Hertfordshire of which approx. 10 - 30 per cent will now probably need to use torches and
batteries which will probably end up in landfill etc), and increase in use of cars and buses
and taxis etc. And how much of the alleged saving of CO2 emissions needs to be adjusted
to take into account these ‘hidden’ CO2 emissions from residents, for which HCC probably
have no data.
12) Issues about the validity of the CO2 debate: Furthermore, as a side and yet very important
point - the concern about the damage caused to the globe by the CO2 argument is now in
dispute, with even NASA stating in June 2013 that CO2 is a cooling agent not a warming
agent and that there has been no overall increase in global temperatures for 17 years (*
Appendix C1). ‘Natural News’ website stated in March “The CO2 found in modern-day
atmosphere is 340ppm. But food crops would grow far faster if the concentration of CO2
were closer to 1000ppm, or roughly 300% higher than current levels. In fact, most
greenhouse plant production causes a "CO2 depletion" to happen, shutting down
photosynthesis and limiting food production” (*Appendix c2). Forbes stated in May 2013
“The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000
and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750.” Yet,
still no warming during that time. That is because the CO2 greenhouse effect is weak and
marginal compared to natural causes of global temperature changes (*Appendix C3). These
are just a tiny number of all the information sources available disputing the CO2 argument.
13) Street Lighting Issue is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’: To quote Aristotle, this street
lighting issue is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’. To HCC it is only about money saving
and CO2 emission reducing. But to every single resident effected by this initiative, they will
have a daily, or certainly a weekly, story to tell on how it impacts them, their wife or
husband, their teenage son or daughter, the young care worker who doesn’t have a car but
has to walk to and stand at the bus stop right next to a dark alleyway, the nurse who could
be caring for us who arrives at work feeling psychologically disturbed after a walk in the
dark over uneven pavements and sticking out bushes, the milk deliverer who’s tripped over
the uneven kerb that they couldn’t see. Then there’s the occasional noises outside your
house but you can’t see anything outside the window and you don’t know what has caused
this noise, is it a cat, a fox or a potential intruder or someone damaging your property. Do
you go and investigate, armed with a torch which then might become a weapon used
against you or becomes an obstacle when trying to defend yourself and you need both
hands? Or do you stay inside the house wondering what the noise was and living in a state
of anxiety for the evening? Then there are the residents who have actually experienced
things happening outside after the lights have gone out. So this is a reflection of many of
our lives, fears and anxieties now and we aren’t thankful for it!
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Findings Part 2:
Examples of Councils who have achieved a positive outcome:
Here are just a few examples of what other Councils and countries have achieved:
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Northamptonshire County Council (Cons) - In June 2013 - Following 4,590 complaints, the
council agreed to switch 923 street lights back on (*Appendix B1).
Buckinghamshire County Council (Cons) – in April 2013 – In Gerrards Cross they are
currently changing existing bulbs for more vivid LEDs. It will set the council back around
£20 for each light, but it would save money in the long run, as LEDS use less energy and last
much longer (*Appendix B2).
Swansea Council (Lab) – in April 2013 - The authority has switched back on 25 of the
original 67 lights turned off in residential streets. "This leaves 42, which will all be switched
back on by 2015." Over the next two years the council is planning to use funds to lower
energy bills by replacing many of the city's 27,000 street lights with energy-saving lamps
(*Appendix B3).
Powys County Council (Ind) – October 2012 – have spent £1.4m installing LED bulbs in
14,000 lights, including the 4,770 it blacked out (*Appendix B4).
Milton Keynes council (No overall control) – in August 2012 - reversed a decision to turn
off street lights following a 30% rise in accidents (*Appendix B5).
Bath and NE Somerset Council (Cons) - July 2011 - have pioneered the move to introduce
the first LED powered lights in Britain and have already installed the environmentally
friendly lights at the Hicks Gate roundabout at the Bristol end of the Keynsham, Somerset.
The lights are expected to save taxpayers more than £4,500-each-year - as well as 25
tonnes of carbon emissions (*Appendix B6).
Birmingham City Council (Lab) and Amey are celebrating installing the first 10,000 LED
lamp columns – saving taxpayer cash and 1,888 tonnes of carbon each year through their
use – just two years into the groundbreaking Birmingham Highways Maintenance and
Management Service. The service includes a programme to replace more than 95,000
street lights with the state-of-the-art Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology which could
eventually cut the council’s energy bill by up to £3million annually, carbon emissions by up
to 60 per cent and improve safety (*Appendix B7).
Westminster City Council (Cons) – May 2007 - It was announced that energy saving street
lamps would be installed on every street in Westminster, which would save the city up to
20,000 pounds in energy costs each year. The Furyo Lamps, which cost 1000 pounds each,
reflect light in a much stronger manner, making them more energy efficient and longer
lasting. To save energy even further solar microchips were installed to detect levels of light
and switch on an off appropriately. The lamps successfully passed a pilot project and saved
enough light to light a house for two days for each day these lamps were used. Hopefully
more towns and cities will look into likewise lighting alternatives! (*Appendix B8).
Jaipur, India – April 2013 - have increased street lighting to protect women (*Appendix
B9).
‘Turn our street lights back on’ Report - for the Part-time Lights Scrutiny Meeting on 1st October
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Alternative Options and what are HCC’s Future Plans?:
There are many alternative options to explore:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)
alternate lights fitted with sensors,
alternate sides of roads with lights off and on,
lights dimmed,
solar energy,
lights on till 1am and again at 5am,
more eco-friendly lights/bulbs etc.,
sponsorship by companies to pay for street lighting – lamp-posts could display adverts
residents could group together to pay a small extra sum for certain lights to be left on –
after all when doing calculations early on when this initiative came about, it appeared it
would only cost a matter of a few extra pounds a year per light if that.
9) What is HCC’s overall future plan with these current lights/lamp-posts - when will they
need replacing and what with? And does HCC agree that once out of the recession that the
lights will be turned back on again and what are the qualifying criteria that will ensure that
happens?
There are so many alternatives and yet we haven’t been consulted and invited to discuss any
of them.
Recommendations:
1. That we as a taxpaying Community in this area formally request that HCC fully and openly
and transparently explore all other alternatives for all night street lighting and provide us
with a timeline for progress meetings and consultations that we can attend.
2. That HCC agree to turn the street lights back on the moment the ‘recession’ has
passed/cost savings have been achieved and replace them with eco-friendly and cost
effective lights that never ever need to be turned off ever again.
3. Going forward, HCC must consult with residents/communities regarding any such matters
that impact upon communities or groups of residents and that we hope valuable lessons
have been learnt by HCC from this decision not to consult, in what was quite frankly a
serious PR disaster.
Conclusion and Preferred Outcome:
So we have established that the street lights being off helps HCC save money and reduce CO2
emissions and not forgetting star gazers who can see the stars, but doesn’t help the other one
million or so tax paying residents who want the street lights on for whatever their personal
reasons.
Also it has to be questioned as to whether the CO2 argument is a ‘money making’ myth as experts
are now coming to believe, then that just leaves the cost cutting side of the equation to explore,
other councils have managed to cut costs and had have a win win outcome and have respected
and cared for their residents, so why can’t HCC do the same?
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To therefore conclude this report: On the grounds of ‘duty of care’, obvious practicalities, health,
safety and psychological wellbeing of the taxpayers in Hertfordshire, in particular we are
representing Borehamwood and local areas, we would like our streets to be eco-and-costeffectively and appropriately lit all night, whilst still being able to cut costs and reduce CO2
emissions (if this latter point still remains a valid concern).
1. Our first ideal outcome is to have a reasonable and effective degree of light all through the
night. This can be achieved by having sensors on every alternate street light, or having
every other light working fully and the other alternate lights turned off all night or by
having one side of the road lit and the other turned off or on part-time or by investing in
better LED/or other eco-friendly lighting. These are just some of many options available.
2. Our second preferred outcome is to have lights adjusted to be off only between 1am to
5am allowing for lights to be on for early shift workers.
3. In the long-term that HCC agree to turn the street lights back on the moment the
‘recession’ has passed and cost savings have been achieved and replace them with ecofriendly and cost effective lights that never ever need to be turned off ever again and
properly consult with each geographical community area to seek their agreement as to
what they specifically need in terms of their street lighting requirements and for HCC not
to make assumptions.
In short we want a street lighting solution now, or certainly plans for all night lighting in the
relatively near future, and no more ignoring us taxpayers or giving us excuses.
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Appendices:
A: ‘Campaign Group Details’ Appendix:
A1: 'Turn our Street Lights back On Campaign group could be found via this link if you would like to
view it:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/189605187792781/
A2: The petition on the Hertfordshire County Council Website can be found via this link.
https://consult.hertsdirect.org/petitions/petition?petition_id=26045
B: ‘Supporting material as to what other counties and countries are doing’ Appendix:
B1:http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/politics/complaints-about-northampton-streetlights-rocket-1-5187618
B2: www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/10365940.Gerrards_Cross_set_for_brighter_street_lighting/
B3: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Swansea-Council-turns-25-residential-street/story18672666-detail/story.html#axzz2QCele6ni
B4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-20029122
B5: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/aug/19/tories-street-light-cuts-accidents-labour
B6 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2016849/Council-unveils-UK-s-LED-street-lights.html
B7: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/2012/07/city-is-shining-thanks-to-10000-eco-friendly-leds/
B8: http://keetsa.com/blog/eco-friendly/eco-street-lamps-lighting-the-way-in-the-uk/
B9: http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/RAJ-JPR-well-lit-jaipur-streets-to-make-city-safe-for-womensoon-4227789-NOR.html
C: ‘CO2 Argument is a Myth’ Appendix:
C1: http://chemtrailsplanet.net/2013/06/29/nasa-discovers-carbon-dioxide-is-a-coolant-destroysglobalists-warming-myth/
C2: http://www.naturalnews.com/039720_carbon_dioxide_myths_plant_nutrition.html
C3: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2013/05/26/to-the-horror-of-global-warmingalarmists-global-cooling-is-here/
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Appendix D
Attached is a Neighbourhood Watch Owl Message from Borehamwood Police:
----- Forwarded Message ----From: OWL Messaging <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, 11 September 2013, 14:23
Subject: Neighbourhood Watch: Overnight burglaries Borehamwood North
Overnight burglaries Borehamwood North
Dear Watch Member,
Overnight, eight burglaries have taken place in the following roads:
Aberford Road, Chandos Road, Theobald Street, Badgers Close, Anthony Road and three in
Croxdale Road.
In each incident offenders have gained access via the UPvc front doors using an unknown implement
and have removed property such as handbags and left via the point of entry and have discarded some
of the property nearby.
If you have any information regarding any of these crimes please call the police non-emergency
number 101.
Please lock all doors and windows when leaving your property and if you have an alarm, please
remember to set it.
If you need to reply regarding this message, click on this email address:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=RE: (OWL) Overnight burglaries Borehamwood
North
Regards,
Carol Barker
Police Community Support Officer
Neighbourhood Watch
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