A resident’s view of part-night street lighting in Cowick

I’ve recently copied into an e-mail from a Cowick resident to Devon County Council outlining their views on part-night street lighting.

To whom it may concern,

I am emailing you regarding the street lighting which is currently being switched off in the Cowick ward.

I am very concerned at this plan, and believe its a very bad thought out idea.

Firstly, I can’t recall being consulted or informed about the streetlights being switched off between 00:30 to 05:30 by either Devon County Council or Exeter City Council. I didn’t receive any flyers, leaflets or booklet regarding this plan. Prior to this switch off, we didn’t even see our local councillors discussing the plans.

Secondly, in my household there are 3 shift workers, including myself, who regularly finished work after 00:30 and start before 05:30. We now have to go about our business in the complete darkness. This is a severe safety concern, which due to the dark nature of the streets, and with the state of the pavements and road, we could trip and fall over without being seen for many hours. Also, you cannot see if there is anyone around, who could cause harm, with us being mugged, robbed or assaulted, which so far there have been 3 attacks in the St Thomas area alone this week, and that was in areas where there is streetlighting!

Thirdly, our council tax has increase again this year, by £4 a month. What are we getting for this?? The bill has gone up an extra £40 a year, but we are getting 42 hours of street lighting less a week, but over the space of year this amounts to 504 hours a year less!! We don’t call this value for money!!

Fourthly, how would emergency services, mainly Ambulances and Doctors, trying to find certain addresses in a urgent and emergency situation. How will these cope in the ‘blackout’ looking for a certain address in an emergency?? This could be vital minutes that could be lost, and will happen as in our road alone, there are quiet a few elderly residents.

We wouldn’t object to having every other light being switched off, as you can still see what’s happening, but all being switched off, we feel is a big mistake.

We did have a Labour flyer from our councillor last week, and again, the plan for the switch off does contradict itself. There are exceptions to this plan apparently, with the lane between Buddle Lane and the culdi-sac in Merrivale Road having its lights left on. Why are the lights in this lane left on, but when you walk into Merrivale Road itself its in darkness?? That doesn’t make sense.

Also, we would like to know who came up and agreed with this plan?? We in this household aren’t the only people moving around in the ‘blackout’, we do see various Railwaymen, Postmen, Busmen to name but a few who also are affected by this decision as they go to and from work.

Looking at the Labour flyer that came thought the letterbox, I see that Heather Morris, Paul Bull and Ben Bradshaw aren’t affected by this ‘blackout’, only one, Roy Hill, is affected.

I have also copied in my local councillors, Paul Bull and Roy Hill regarding this situation.

Here is my reply:

Many thanks for the copy of your comments to Devon County Council Street Lighting team.

I am sorry that we missed you on our recent visit , and I’m guessing that your response was prompted by our “sorry you were out” leaflet

Please note that the decision was taken  by DCC alone as they have sole responsibility for street lighting.

However over the past 6 months or so, I and my Labour colleagues in Cowick have been working to ensure DCC’s  Part Night Street Lighting policy is introduced across Cowick in as safe as way as possible.

We too are sorry that DCC did not see fit to publicise widely a public consultation they carried out in the autumn, but we have mentioned it at least twice (the second time at the top of the first page) in our Cowick Ward Newsletter which we personally deliver to all households across the Ward.

The Express and Echo have also featured the plans to switch-off the street lights across Exeter from the time the plans were first mentioned back in May 2013, but I appreciate that not everyone reads the E&E.

Similarly, in an attempt to publicise the policy I have had 2 interviews with Matt Woodley of BBC Radio Devon broadcast on Good Morning Devon. My views were seen and heard on BBC Spotlight. Again I acknowledge that this also would have a limited reach.

With my Exeter City Council colleague, Cllr Heather Morris, I have been trying to use social media as a platform for informing and communicating with local residents, but I know that also would not reach everyone in the ward.

You’ll find Cllr Heather Morris and myself using Facebook to interact with Cowick residents about my things, including part night street lighting in Cowick

I use twitter as @CllrPaul4Cowick and I’ve complied my tweets on the subject into Storify feed

12/06/13 Part Night Street Lighting – #PNSL

13/06/13 Members’ briefing on PNSL

16/06/13 More on PNSL

31/03/14 | #CowickPNSL

My blogs on the subject include:

10/06/13 Part Night Street Lighting for Cowick

12/06/13 Cowick Part Night Street Lighting

13/06/13 Exeter Part Night Street Lighting

19/03/14 Part-night street lighting comes to Cowick

27/0314 Some thoughts on Part Night Street Lighting ahead of switch-off on 01/04/14

03/04/14 E&E Lights go out to save money

I and Cllr Hill have noted your comments and we are looking forward to meeting with DCC in a few months for a 6-month review of the policy. We will let you  know the outcome.

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