A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Archive for the ‘Leicester & County’ Category

In favour of switching off Street Lights

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
Copyright Roger Kidd under Creative Commons Licence
Copyright Roger Kidd under Creative Commons Licence

The Conservative-controlled Leicestershire County Council, “plans to save up to a £1 million annually by switching off street lights or limiting the hours they are illuminated,” according to the Leicester Mercury.

Like other areas, Leicestershire has rolled out a partial or full switch-off of selected street lights since 2010. Around 2-3% of lights have been changed so far. So the report must mean that the scheme is being extended.

I am in favour of a judicious reduction in street lighting. It saves tax-payers’ money, reduces carbon emissions and makes the nocturnal environment more natural for wildlife. It also allows people to see more of the night sky. For the latter reason, the Campaign for Dark Skies (part of the British Astronomical Association) supports more efficient street lighting.

The County Council list sensible criteria for exempting areas with above-average crime, road hazards and so on. Many lights on roads near to us have been switched off after midnight with no anecdotal increase in traffic accidents or crime. I can’t find any data from Leicestershire Police on changes in crime, although police in Dorset, Hertfordshire and South Gloucestershire all report no increase in crime or traffic accidents. This is a generalisation, as Police can and do request that the lights are switched back on if there are problems.

The Crime Prevention Web Site neatly summarises the positive and negative arguments for street lighting.

Leicestershire Liberal Democrats suggest LED street lights as an alternative to a partial switch-off. However the jury is out on the impact of these brighter, bluer lights on people, wildlife and the night sky.

Perhaps legislators should also look at ensuring lamp fittings on private and public buildings are correctly designed direct all light towards the ground. Only recently, the Leicester Mercury published photos that show how much light goes wastefully upwards into the night sky. Any new LED lighting should be on the warmer, yellower end of the spectrum to reduce glare and reflection.

Switching off street lights is not a conservative thing to do. Maintaining the status quo, keeping the lights on  and reassuring elderly residents would be a more natural policy for the Tories. They are driven by the need to save money, rather than pragmatism or  environmental concerns.

However, it is disappointing to see the Lib Dem Group on the County Council oppose this move, principally on the basis of fear of crime and indeed fear of change. I would counsel them to make policy based on evidence, rather than uninformed perception. They should support the policy, but with oversight to ensure reduced street lighting is not at the expense of road safety or actual crime. Properly directed, “warmer” coloured LEDs may also be part of the solution. LED lights can also be switched off when they are not needed, thereby saving energy and money in two ways.

Local Highways Gripe

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Edit: The more people who email the council about this, the more likely it is that something will be done. It doesn’t have to be as long as my essay!

The new highways scheme along Ridgeway/ Howden Road in Oadby appears to have reduced traffic outside Brocks Hill School and made the environment safer for pedestrians.

However, there has always been a problem with parking near the start and end of school on Briar Meads at the junction with Howden Road. I thought the new scheme had provision for extra parking restrictions at this junction but these seem confined to Howden Road.

I know there are other concerned parents out there so here is what I have emailed customerservices@leics.gov.uk . I suggest you copy your letter on this subject to:

Oadby County Councillor Mike Griffiths michael.griffiths@leics.gov.uk

Oadby County Councillor Dean Gamble dean.gamble@leics.gov.uk

Brocks Hill Ward Borough Councillor Latif Darr latif.darr@oadby-wigston.gov.uk, who attends the Highways Forum and has an interest in Highways issues affecting the ward.

I have noticed the following problems at school-start and end-times:

1) Cars park opposite the junction ignoring the advisory white line, obstructing the pavement for pedestrians, obstructing drive ways for residents and narrowing the road at the busiest times of the day. This causes the following issues:

– prevents school-contract and scheduled Arriva 31 buses from turning right out of Howden Road, backing up traffic along Howden Road outside the schools;

– when the buses do turn, traffic is often blocked because Briar Meads is narrowed by parked cars and there is not sufficient width for two vehicles to pass each other. I know of at least once incident this week where a car wing-mirror was damaged because a bus and a car could not pass on this stretch of road;

– pedestrians, including small children, are put at risk crossing Briar Meads toward the schools by lack of visibility caused the parked cars, even at the “safe route to school” dropped kerb by Ashton Close.

2) Cars can legally park directly north of the new dropped kerb for the end of the cycle route on the east side of Briar Meads just north of the Howden Road junction. Again this causes visibility problems for children trying to cross Briar Meads, cyclists and traffic exiting Howden Road;

3) At the bottom of the hill on Briar Meads where it becomes Briar Walk there is a dropped kerb “safe route to school” crossing, where the road is narrowed. Cars frequently park on the advisory white line adjacent to this crossing making it difficult for pedestrians to see if the road is safe to cross.

I ask the County Council to consider the following:

– double yellow lines on the west side of Briar Meads opposite the Howden Road junction;

– extension of the double yellow lines on the east side of Briar Meads about a car-length further north of the Howden Road junction than the current double yellow line markings;

– double yellow lines to replace the white advisory lines on both sides of Briar Meads adjacent to the dropped-kerb crossing where Briar Meads becomes Briar Walk;

Photo credit: County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester (Colin Hoskins) / CC BY-SA 2.0