I am fond of early morning walks with Mel the Collie. But in recent days, I’ve noticed a lack of streetlights. Some lights are on all night. Others are part-night lights. These turn off at around midnight and resume their task of lighting our streets at around 5.30am.
In the last few days, the part-night lighting hasn’t come on until around 6.00am. I suspect that the cause is the full moon that has been hanging high in the west sky in the early hours. For the last few days, this has been a magnificent sight and it seems to be bright enough to persuade our rather dumb streetlights to oversleeping.
But a full or even a waning gibbous moon is not bright enough to light alleys and nooks and crannies of the Parys Road, Tollgate and Sheet Road area. We need streetlights on for those out walking or off to work.
We councillors receive a lot of correspondence about streetlights. Concerns were also raised in the community survey we conducted last year. More than half of people that responded said they felt less safe on Ludlow’s streets or at home when streetlights are turned off.
Streetlights are owned and maintained by Shropshire Council. The council has a very strict policy on converting streetlights from part-night lighting (turned off from midnight to 5.30m) to full-night lights. The policy says that you have to be mugged, harassed or encounter other crime or antisocial behaviour to make a case for turning streetlights back on:
Our policy on part-night lighting will only permit the conversion back to dusk-dawn operation if there is a request from the Bronze Level Tasking Group seeking a solution to an increase in the level of anti-social behaviour or crime which is directly attributed to the lack of lighting between midnight and 05:30. Obviously any such recommendation is dependent on any instance of crime or anti-social behaviour being reported.
This policy does nothing to help people who do not feel safe out and about at night. It does not address the concerns of people who do not wish to take the risk of walking down a dark alley on the way home from late night working or socialising.
We need to change this policy to ensure that people feel safe on our streets in the early hours.
Streetlights were discussed at the last meeting of the Local Joint Committee and at a subsequent In and Out of Ludlow forum (IOL). IOL decided that we must act. We plan two actions:
- Ludlow Town Council will compile a list of which lights should be on throughout the night to improve safety and the confidence of people walking and driving in the early hours.
- The unitary councillors, Viv, Tracey, Richard and myself, will draw up a new policy for street lighting across the county. We will lobby changes to allow part-night lighting to be restored to all-night lighting where there are community concerns about safety.
. Ludlow Town Council took on responsibility for public toilets in exchange for Shropshire Council agreeing to manage the streetlights.
. Subject to agreement by Ludlow Town Council.