Angry residents fear plans to turn off 272 street lights across Wisbech could leave people afraid to go out at night.
Wisbech and District Tenants and Residents’ Association is so concerned they are planning a public meeting on Monday morning to discuss the issue.
The cut in street lighting is part of a government-funded project by Cambridgeshire County Council to replace and update street lights across the county, but as part of the deal the government wants to see a 10 per cent reduction in the number of lights.
The replacement programme aims to provide modern standards of lighting, which will operate more efficiently, save energy and reduce costs. The new light source will be white or yellow/white, which will allow people to see more detail and greater colours than with the previous orange lights.
A letter sent to residents, town and parish councils by Balfour Beatty, the county council’s appointed contractor, states that in residential areas the new columns will have white light and will be placed as close to the old columns as possible to save on the high cost of electricity cabling and connections, but they may be moved up to three metres from their current positions.
They will be generally taller and as a result each column will give a greater spread of light.
But Tony Roughton, Chairman of Wisbech and District Tenants and Residents’ Association, claims people in Wisbech have been kept in the dark about the proposals and said plans to remove so many existing lights could impact on people’s sense of security when out at night.
There are particular concerns about the removal of two of just six lights at John F Kennedy Court - an area largely occupied by elderly people. Resident Joan Baker said she is already worried about returning to her home after an evening out, and fears the cut in lighting will make it too dark for her to go out at night.
Monday’s meeting, which is being held at Onyx Court from 10am is open to anyone interested and will also be attended by Tom Blackburne-Maze, the county’s head of assets and commissioning, who will be there to outline what is being planned and to hear people’s views.
A county council spokesman said: “We have already been talking to local communities about the replacement work and any areas of concern where they would want to see better lighting to improve safety, and a County Council Officer has been invited to attend a forthcoming meeting of the tenants’ association which will be another opportunity to listen to any concerns regarding the replacement programme in Wisbech.
“We understand community concern about fewer lights in some areas, but we can assure them that the overall illumination levels provided by the new columns are of a higher standard than is provided by the current lighting.”