It is interesting that the official line from the Conservative Government on street lighting according to a very good source is that street lighting being switched off is considered to be a matter for local decisions. The official Conservative position being
‘Street lighting plays an important role in road safety, as well as ensuring the personal safety of pedestrians.
There may be some roads where lights could be dimmed in the very early hours, saving taxpayers’ money and reducing carbon emissions. But this should be a local decision by elected local councillors, reflecting local circumstances and the views of local residents – especially in relation to any concerns about crime’
It is therefore for the County Council Cabinet members responsible for highways and public safety at the time the decision was taken to explain what the real reason for switching the lights off was and why they are not prepared to take into account or reflect the views of local residents.
Initially we were told by Cllr Andre Gonzalez, Conservative that it was to save over £2million a year.
We were then told by Cllr Gonzalez and Cllr Mackintosh that it was all part of a plan to improve the lighting of our highways and footpaths by replacing it with better lights.
Why they had to switch the current lights off before fitting the new system has never been answered.
We are now told it is now because the lampposts holding the lights that have been switched off are in fact unsafe?
Well please excuse me but I don’t remember the last time a lamp-post fell down, discounting of course those that had been hit by a vehicle, and I’m sure the recent excuse will not go down well with the people who now find themselves exposed to grave feelings of fear about going out at night meaning they are now confined to their homes between sunset and sunrise.
It is almost for some the equivalent to that of being under house arrest and curfew during hours of darkness.
Which is all well and good when it comes to the safety of the public if those who should be at home having been sentenced to community orders or tagged under licence from custody were actually the ones made to stay home?
The latest statistics of over 1500 violent or racially aggravated crimes being attended to or reported to the police in Northampton in the last year and the number that are committed by people who are on licence from a custodial sentence, on bail awaiting sentencing or on a community service order only serves to increase the concerns of the public.
Cuts to CCTV staffing and monitoring and the removal of some cameras alongside the switching off of the street lights will delay the time it takes to report crimes and anti social behaviour which of course is another reason to oppose the cuts in community safety that the Conservatives at the County and Borough Councils have decide to implement even before the end of the supposed budget consultation period.
I make no apologies for also putting the problems associated with cuts to the Police in with the other reductions in the safety of the public, cuts which of the 50 posts to go across Northamptonshire will see 20 go in Northampton.
The justification the Conservative administration have put forward for the Borough council cuts is that the work the Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s) currently do will be taken up by the newly-badged Neighbourhood Wardens and the new Park Rangers, which is of course a nonsense and a conning of the public of the most cynical kind that is becoming the norm from those who are totally immersed in the politics of spin, smoke and mirrors.
I was the Leader of the Council when the existing environmental staff was rebadged as locally based Neighbourhood Wardens but without any increase in the number of staff employed on these duties as Phase 1 of the manifesto pledge to provide more Wardens across the Borough .
Phase 2 of the plan was to increase the number of neighbourhood wardens over the rest of the current administration to 2015 of which there is no sign in the Borough Council budget proposals for next three years.
The introduction of the three part-time Park Rangers is a boost to our local parks but they will not be in a position to take on PCSO duties.
The reality is that both the County and Borough Councils have lost their way, have forgotten that as the coalition Government have stated they should make decisions based on,
‘reflecting local circumstances and the views of local residents – especially in relation to any concerns about crime’
What of course we are increasingly seeing is decisions being taken,
‘reflecting what the local leaders and their own views are – especially in relation to looking for self-interest, self-promotion and the county council election in 2013’
If the public really want to make the Leaders of the County and Borough Council and their supporters really pay attention then Get Involved, and make yourself heard