Local people frightened by irresponsible Liberal Democrat election campaign

Local residents have been contacting local Labour councillors worried about rumours of a ‘blackout’ in Rothwell. Me and Cllr David Nagle have responded to reassure people that there definitely won’t be a ‘blackout’ and that it is simply a rumour being spread by local Liberal Democrats.

The facts are that Leeds City Council’s budget is being slashed by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government and so is having to see where it can save money in order to ensure essential services can continue to be delivered.

The street light scheme has already been implemented right across Leeds and surrounding areas and been welcomed as a good way to save money without harming residents. Similar schemes have already been introduced all across England where local people have welcomed it also has huge environmental benefits by slashing wasted energy use.

Before implementing the part-time night switch off of street lights Leeds City Council did extensive public consultation to see if people supported the idea. People were overwhelmingly in favour with 67% welcoming switching off street lights from midnight or sooner and a massive 75% of people agreed with switching off lights to save energy costs and cut carbon emissions.

There are absolutely no plans for a ‘blackout’ in Rothwell, or anywhere else in Leeds, as all that is happening is a small number of street lights are being turned off late at night when very few people are awake or using the roads affected.

I am very disappointed in Cllr Stewart Golton who has been unnecessarily alarming older and vulnerable people. As public servants we have a responsibility to our community and it is disgraceful to put party political interests first and frighten people like this. Many people have welcomed the council trying to save energy and I’m surprised that Cllr Golton appears to have abandoned his commitment to the environment which I had hoped was something we all shared.

Someone has to talk some good old-fashioned Yorkshire common sense here. Most people are overwhelmingly in favour of part-time night switch off of street lights. Most people have the common sense and decency to want to save energy and the environment. It’s sad that in the run-up to an election Cllr Golton chose to mislead people and put his career in front of what is best for local people and stand in the way of what most people actually want!

In Rothwell we are leading the rest of Leeds by recycling our food waste. Our recycling scheme is something else that Cllr Golton constantly attacks by claiming there are problems, despite the fact that most local people support recycling and are proud of what we do.

But I want to go farther in helping to save the environment. As a local councillor I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t encourage us as a community to do more! Surely we should want to do our bit by switching some of our community lights off when we go to bed? That’s what we do in our own homes. That is what is happening in every other area of the city where it has gone largely unnoticed in the non- residential streets where the lights have been turned off for a few hours in the middle of the night.

To reassure people worried about the scaremongering Leeds City Council has transparently published the facts on its website at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/pages/spnsles.aspx

The key facts are:

  • 92,000 street lights use £4 million of electricity every year
  • LCC wants to reduce energy cost and reduce carbon emissions to help the environment
  • Just 8,000 lights out of 92,000 will be suitable for part-night switch off
  • This has the potential to save £1.3 million on energy costs over the next ten years and every year will save 4.7% of the overall carbon emissions for street lighting
  • Lights will only be switched off from midnight to 5:30am
  • No lights will be switched off until a full on-site risk assessment has confirmed that it is safe to do so

Lights will not be switched off in any of the following situations:

  • On roads with a significant road traffic accident record during the proposed switch-off period.
  • In areas with an above average record of crime during the proposed switch-off period.
  • In areas with a police record of frequent anti-social behaviour during the proposed switch-off period.
  • In areas provided with CCTV local authority / police surveillance equipment
  • In areas with sheltered housing and other residences accommodating vulnerable people.
  • Around 24hr operational emergency services sites, including hospitals.
  • At formal pedestrian crossings, subways and enclosed footpaths and alleyways where one end links to a street that is lit all night.
  • Where there are potential hazards on the highway such as roundabouts, central carriageway islands, chicanes and traffic calming features.
  • Where public transport stops are in use during the proposed period of switch-off (this was included in response to consultation feedback)
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