Southend Council has been “secretly” dimming street lights since 2014, it has emerged as a petition is launched to stop the cost-cutting move.
The council has proposed turning down 90 per cent of the city’s lights as part of its latest budget, saving £25,000 a year and helping fix the council’s £7.3million deficit.
The measure would see some streetlights dimmed by 75 per cent between 10pm and 6am.
However, it has now emerged the street lights have been dimmed since 2014.
Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative Group said councillors were unaware the lights were being dimmed since the installation of the LED lights.
He said: “I was alerted to this just before the weekend and I am concerned because the original cabinet decision, which I have reviewed thoroughly, does not make any mention of dimming the lights as part of this project.
“Some of the comments at the time given by Cllr Terry led me to believe that all lights would remain on at full power and produce a saving because they were energy saving bulbs. Equally, this budget saving is disingenuous at best because it’s being portrayed as a new thing rather than something that happened at the time.
“ If they knew about this they should have been upfront. I don’t believe this to be the case. Members were not told.
“I urge that these lights are restored to full power immediately.”
A petition, launched by Conservative council candidate for Kursaal Ward, Andrew Brookes, is calling for lights not to be dimmed due to concerns over safety and crime.
Martin Terry, deputy leader and cabinet member for public protection, said: “Adjusting street lighting is not new to Southend, and since 2014 when the council launched its innovative LED lighting programme to replace over 14,000 street lights, we have been able to control and adjust the level of individual street lights to align with natural lighting levels and seasonal changes for example.
“This has been one of the key benefits to moving over to programmable LED lighting, which have also enabled us to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, save money and keep the lights on at night unlike in other areas.”
A council spokesman added: “More than 700 lights in higher risk areas either remain fully illuminated or only dim minimally. The remainder are gradually dimmed so that at 2am they are at 30 per cent and return to full illumination at 5am. This proposal slightly reduces this to 25 per cent illumination.”
Find the petition at www.democracy.southend.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx