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Richmondshire residents to decide if street lighting stays or goes
RESIDENTS in a North Yorkshire district are to have the final say on whether their street lights are turned on or off.
Richmondshire District Councillors have opted out of a countywide scheme to limit the hours that towns and villages are lit.
They have instead invited parish and town councils to consult with local residents on whether district council-operated lights in their village and towns should be turned on or off during night time hours.
“The communities themselves will be asked if they want the District Council operated lights on or off,” said council leader, Councillor John Blackie.
“It could be an all off, all on.....some off, some on scenario – but whatever they tell us they want is exactly what they will get and we will make sure it happens for them.
“Under the county council scheme, they will just be told which of their lights are going out and have no choice in the matter - it is a fait accompli.”
North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton District Council are currently looking at switching off certain street lights in Hambleton and currently running a joint consultation, allowing residents to give their views on proposals ahead of making a decision.
The county council has already implemented the program in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Scarborough.
The program is aimed at reducing North Yorkshire’s annual £1.7m street lighting energy bill by about £400,000.
It is also expected to reduce carbon emissions by 3,200 tonnes and reduce light pollution in the night sky.
The county council’s initiative could result in up to 60 per cent of its street lights being switched off between midnight and 5am.
Certain lights owned by the county council in Richmondshire may still be switched off, unless there are strong community and highway safety reasons for a light to remain on.
Councillor Blackie said: “As the only independently controlled authority in the north we are determined to demonstrate best practice for community engagement and involvement, rather than simply making the decisions that have great impact on others without listening to what they have to say.
“If, for instance, we turn off the lights across the Upper Dales, a 325 square mile area would be cast into total darkness. Street lights are very important – they address the ‘fear of’ factor, give security and bring peace of mind.”
He said all parishes will be written to over the coming weeks.
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