I have written another draft of my PhD proposal. This time I have gone into a lot more detail and included more facts and illustrations. I have included a link below if anyone would like to read it.
By Laurence Cawley and Charlotte Hayward
More than half of councils which have turned off street lights at night to save money did not carry out formal risk audits beforehand, it has emerged.
Forty-eight councils in England currently, or have previously, turned off street lights at night.
Milton Keynes Council turned its lights back on after a coroner linked two road deaths to darkness at night.
The BBC has established senior figures at the council voiced concerns about safety before those deaths.
The local authority confirmed that no safety audit had been carried out on its policy out before the fatalities.
According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC, of the 161 local authorities with street lighting responsibility in England:
- Forty-five have, or have in the past, adopted part-night lighting – when street lamps turn off for a large portion of the night
- Three other councils have switched off some of their lights at night completely
- More than half did not carry out a formal risk assessment before switching off lights
Sherwin Sequeira died on the roads in Milton Keynes while the lights were off in October 2011. One month later, pedestrian Gary Tomkins, a 25-year-old caterer, was killed by a car.
The BBC has now established concerns were raised at a senior level within the council three months before the first death.
The BBC asked councils whether, in the past five years, they had either switched off streetlights for set periods at night (part-night lighting), dimmed their lights or simply turned off some permanently.
The maps below reveal that more than half of all councils in England now dim lights, with nearly 50 turning off streetlights at night.
A few have chosen to completely turn off streetlights. The data also suggests most local authorities are replacing streetlights with LED bulbs.
In the same period, six coroners across England have identified the lack of street lighting as a contributing factor to a death.
John Bint, who was portfolio holder for transport at the time, called for a “full and proper safety audit” to be carried out amid “serious concerns” about the policy.
That audit, the council accepts, was never carried out. And even after the deaths of Mr Sequeira and Mr Tomkins, the switch off was not reversed until July 2012.
When the BBC presented its findings to Mr Tomkins’ mother Julie Pascoe, she said: “It is unbelievable isn’t it?
“I just don’t know what to believe with the council any more.
“They knew there were going to be dangers on these roads with the lights turned off but they still went ahead and did it.
“It’s cost my son’s life, just for a few pounds.”
Peter Marland, current leader of Milton Keynes Council, said he could not comment on the decisions made at the time as the authority was under a different administration.
He did say “the matter of what procedures were followed at the time” was “obviously of great interest to me”.
The BBC’s research also shows at least 20 councils cited a 2007 trial in Essex to suggest part-night lighting had no impact on road safety.
More recent figures compiled by Essex County Council for an Essex Police and Crime Panel briefing paper, however, suggests that in six out of eight towns where the lights were switched off, night-time accidents had increased during comparison periods in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.
The council dismissed these figures, claiming the numbers were skewed by adverse weather in 2012-2013 which meant fewer people were using the roads that winter.
“Currently there is no statistically significant data available on collisions and crime caused by part-night lighting,” a council spokesman said.
But campaigners in Essex claim the county council’s lighting policy has put people at increased risk of harm when the lights go out.
One of the cases they cite is David Charles, who died in November 2014 in Basildon after a collision in a street where the lights had been turned off.
Essex County Council declined to comment on whether the lack of lighting might have played a role in Mr Charles’ death, but the police say it is an aspect of its investigation.
Nick Alston, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said although he appreciated there were people who both supported and opposed part-night lighting, he wanted to see full and comprehensive data on its safety impact.
Cawley,L. Hayward,C.(2015)Lights off road deaths: Milton Keynes Council concerns voiced earlier[Online]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-30437078(Accessed 1st February 2015)
Throughout the MA course I became absolutely fascinated in the design process and researching new sustainable technologies and materials. I want to continue my research on sustainable design at PhD level. Can the design of recycling containers encourage sustainable behaviours? Is to be my new topic which involves three case studies of: The Student Union, student residents and normal households. I will research into their recycling habits then design prototypes to be tested to see if they can influence sustainable behaviour. I would wish to carry out this research at The University of Central Lancashire if I can obtain the appropriate funding. I have also started a new website to record the progress and pitfalls of my investigations https://wrightrecyclingdesign.wordpress.com/
Thank you for reading and following me.
I noticed this story on the front page of The Daily Mail this morning. I thought that I would share it with you.
The great street light switch-off: 75 per cent of councils dimming lights to save cash amid fears of increased crime and road accidents
Street lights being switched off sparks fears of rise in crime and accidents
Three-quarters of councils dimming or extinguishing lights, survey found
Comes as councils seek to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions
Survey by Labour covered 141 councils in England in charge of 5.7m lights
A dramatic rise in the number of street lights being switched off to save money has sparked fears of an increase in crime and road accidents.
Three-quarters of councils are dimming or extinguishing lights, a survey reveals. The number of lamps being turned off or set to shine less brightly has risen to 1.36million, compared with just 148,000 in May 2010 when the Coalition came to power.
The rise has come as councils seek to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions. The Government has said it is right for street lights to be turned off where safe and practical.
But critics warn darker streets leave many residents frightened to go out and increase the chances of crime and car crashes.
The AA and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have called for crime rates and accident figures to be examined in the areas where lights are dimmed or switched off.
The survey, by the Labour Party, covered 141 councils in England responsible for a total of 5.7million street lights.
It found that 558,000 are now being switched off at night, eight times as many as in May 2010. A further 797,000 are being dimmed, ten times as many as when the Coalition came to power.
Overall, the proportion of lights being switched off or dimmed has risen from 2.6 per cent in 2010 to 24 per cent. Fifty councils are switching off some of their lights and 98 are dimming some, with 42 doing both.
Across all councils, 29 per cent of lights are being turned off or dimmed at night in Conservative-controlled areas, compared with 13 per cent in Labour areas.
The shires are especially badly affected, with every shire county authority in England either switching off or dimming lights. According to Labour’s figures, 99 per cent of lights are dimmed in Surrey, while in Essex 83 per cent are now switched off. In Dorset and Hertfordshire, more than two-thirds of lights are turned off.
Labour last night put the blame on Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.
Hilary Benn, the party’s communities and local government spokesman, said: ‘Street lights ensure that people are safe on our roads and feel safe walking home, especially at this time of the year when the nights have drawn in.
‘Our research shows however that significant areas of Britain have been plunged into darkness since May 2010 as a result of David Cameron and Eric Pickles’ policies. Eric Pickles has even boasted that he ‘loves’ switching off street lights, which will do nothing to reassure people walking home in the dark.
‘David Cameron and Eric Pickles need to tell their shire councils to get their act together and do what forward-thinking authorities are already doing by investing in new technologies like LED lights to save money on electricity bills and keep residents safe.’
Ministers accused Labour of hypocrisy, pointing out that Mr Benn urged councils to cut street lighting when he was a minister in the last Labour government.
The Government says councils should listen to local residents and ensure that lighting is not switched off if there are concerns about safety and crime.
Earlier this year Mr Pickles was quoted in Basildon, Essex, as criticising local councillors who wanted Essex County Council to put street lights back on.
‘In a time when we are on the cusp with regards to our electricity supply, we can’t have lights burning all night on the off chance someone wants to get out and do aerobics at 3am,’ he said, adding that turning lights off had ‘decreased crime because burglars love ambient lighting’.
However, a review by Cambridge criminologists in 2008 concluded that ‘improved street lighting should continue to be used to prevent crime in public areas’. Other studies found an average 20 per cent decrease in crime in well-lit areas.
The AA has warned that low lighting makes fatal accidents more likely at night. AA president Edmund King said: ‘Roads that are safe when lit can be unsafe with the lights off. Lighting illuminates hazards and gives road users a greater chance of avoiding them.’
But communities minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘This is complete hypocrisy from the Labour Party, given when in government, the likes of Ed Miliband and Hilary Benn bullied and cajoled councils into cutting street lights as part of their climate change zealotry. This Government values the role of street lighting – but it should be a local decision, street by street, on what local residents actually want.’
Chapman,J.(2014)The great street light switch-off: 75 per cent of councils dimming lights to save cash amid fears of increased crime and road accidents[Online]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2882983/The-great-street-light-switch-75-cent-councils-dimming-lights-save-cash-amid-fears-increased-crime-road-accidents.html(Accessed 22nd December 2014)
I have had a great time teaching myself photography this year. I found out today that one of my photographs has been shortlisted in a competition held by The Royal Photographic Society. I am after your help yet again I am afraid. The competition is a public vote. If any of you have a few seconds to spare and wouldn’t mind voting for me I would be extremely grateful. The link is below, thank you.
I have just found this information on the local Southport website QLocal http://www.qlocal.co.uk/southport/news_list/18_000_Street_Lights_To_Be_Switched_Off___-53751246.htm. I will keep you informed when I learn more.
Sefton Council plans for street lighting have been published.
Unknown(2014)18,000 Street Lights To Be Switched Off?[Online]http://www.qlocal.co.uk/southport/news_list/18_000_Street_Lights_To_Be_Switched_Off___-53751246.htm(Accessed 30/11/14)