Durham Council to turn down street lights to save £1.3m

Street lights in County Durham are to be dimmed in an attempt to save the county council £1.3m a year.

The authority is planning to reduce brightness by 25% from 20:00 to midnight, then by 50% until 05:00 GMT.

A spokesman said the lights would still be very bright and that hopefully people would not notice the difference.

But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said the darker it was, the more accidents happen.

Street lights, illuminated signs, bollards, traffic signals and pedestrian crossings cost £3.9m a year and the council is hoping to slash the bill by a third.

It is also hoping to reduce its carbon footprint - currently lighting and signs account for 18% of its yearly emissions.

'Hardly notice'

Bob Young, the council cabinet member for strategic environment, said: "These proposed measures will not only mean a major reduction in our carbon emissions, they will also save us money.

"Dimming street lights should have little impact on motorists and pedestrians as the difference will hardly be visible."

Duncan Vernon, of Rospa, said: "Dimming lights is one of the things that councils can do to reduce energy bills, but we do know the dimmer the lights, the more likely accidents are to happen."

Terry Collins, the council's corporate director of neighbourhood services, said the lights on the A167 near Darlington had been dimmed by 25% for the last couple of years and there had been no complaints.

He said: "There have been no issues at all and not a single complaint.

"We are trying to save money but we do take health and safety factors into consideration."

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