Let there be light – Northants MEP joins the fight to get street lights switched back on

From: Derek Clark MEP
Published: Tue Jun 21 2011

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE MEP Derek Clark has joined the fight to get street lights switched back on.

Northamptonshire County Council is switching off half of the county’s street lights to make a saving of £2m a year.

Corby was the first area affected and has had 3,800 lights turned off, sparking outrage in the town, with the launch of a Facebook protest page and a petition and marches calling for the lights to be switched back on.

Thousands of residents have backed the protest and as 33,000 lights slowly get switched off across the county, more and more furious householders are joining the fight.

East Midlands MEP Derek Clark, whose constituency covers the whole of Northamptonshire, has already met with protesters Melanie Yule and Tony Clenaghan in Corby, and vowed to back their fight.

He wants concerned residents from across the county to get in touch with him so the campaign can be stepped up.

He said: "We all know cuts have to be made but this is a very, very cynical ploy by the county council. Switch them off in summer when the fewest people notice and by the time November comes it’s too late.

"How will children walk home in the dark from school for instance? The protesters talked to me about the dozens of stories they have heard over the past few weeks, from the elderly too worried to go out at night, to an increase in crime, to accidents, even people thinking of giving up their jobs because they are too frightened to walk home along dark streets."

Mr Clark said the first modern street lights were installed in London in the 1880’s and led to an immediate drop in crime. He said: "He said the protesters told me they feel like they are back in the dark ages and they are right."

Mr Clark visited Tansfield Grove in Corby, where some lights had been switched off, some cut down completely, while the only working light was obscured by trees.

He also backed the residents’ concerns over the county council proposals to introduce a private finance initiative, PFI, to provide new lights over the coming years.

He said: "That’s a smokescreen. The county council is insulating itself against future complaints with a PFI – councillors will no longer be accountable for the lights. It’s a way of holding the electorate at arm’s length.

"People want adequate lights and they want them now – that’s perfectly reasonable. I wonder if the council is aware it might be in conflict with EU health and safety regulations."

In total, the council is turning off 11,100 lights in Northampton, 3,400 in Wellingborough and 3,200 in Kettering, as well as hundreds across towns and villages in the county.

Mr Clark urged protesters to contact him with their concerns.

People can write to Mr Clark at The office of Derek Clark MEP, UK Independence Party, Suite 1, Rowan House, 23, Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5AT, or e-mail him at mep@derekclarkmep.org.uk
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