U-turn on plan to dim street lights in Southend

Controversial plans to dim street lights in Southend have been ditched in a U-turn by council bosses.

Southend Council’s draft budget had proposed dimming 90 per cent of the city’s lights by up to 25 per cent capacity between between 10pm and 5am to save £25,000 a year.

However, it transpired last week that the council has already been dimming the lights to 30 per cent of capacity and that will continue.

In its revised draft budget the cash-strapped council, which has a £7.3million deficit, rejected turning the lights fully on saying it would cost £500,000.

Stephen George, leader of the council, said: “Residents and fellow councillors have raised concerns about safety and it is clear this is a very important issue for many people who live and work in Southend.

“We value our residents safety and the cabinet have duly listened to the public and their concerns on this matter, and we have agreed that we will remove this proposed saving from the budget and seek the saving elsewhere.”

Paul Collins, councillor responsible for asset management and inward investment, added: “This budget process has been difficult, in part because of the unexpected double-digit inflation, and the energy crisis.

“It has made us look hard at all of our spending on behalf of our residents and businesses, to ensure we maintain value for money and protect the most vulnerable people in the city.”

During a debate last week around street lights being dimmed, councillor Martin Terry accused the Echo of making a “typographical error”. The councillor has now apologised and acknowledged the statement used in the Echo was a statement provided by Southend Council’s press office.

Cllr Terry acknowledged the council had wrongly said the lights had been dimmed since 2014 rather than 2015.”

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative Group, said: “It’s a bit disingenuous to say that they’re keeping the street lights on when all they are doing is not dimming already dim lights.

“I don’t think this is what people want. I don’t agree with the £500,000 figure. That’s not what I and other members have been told. They are giving conflicting amounts on the cost. They are giving different dates on when this actually happened. All I am asking for is they come clean and tell us exactly what is what.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter