Essex street lights turned back on for an hour

Street lamp
Image caption The county council is turning the street lights back on in Essex

Street lights will be turned on for an extra hour across Essex following a decision by the county council.

About 70% of lights have been turned off between midnight and 05:00 since March 2013 to save £1m annually.

Safety and crime concerns led some local councils to offer to fund the night lighting themselves.

Essex County Council said the lights would now be turned off between 01:00 and 05:00 six days a week, costing an extra £300,000 a year.

Rodney Bass, Conservative cabinet member for highways and transportation, said the decision to roll out the new scheme followed a successful trial in Epping Forest.

He said it was "not a change of policy", but a "fine-tuning" of the system, particularly to help those living closer to London who arrived back on trains late from the capital.

Image caption Rodney Bass, responsible for the switch off scheme in Essex, has rejected councils' attempts to restore them

The lights will remain off between 00:00 and 05:00 on Mondays due to fewer commuter journeys, except near the Epping Forest underground.

The changes come into effect on 30 March.

Harlow Council voted last month to raise council tax by 1.5% to pay for the cost of having the street lights turned back on all night.

It followed complaints of theft, robbery and injury as people walked in the darkness.

But the county council rejected the £121,000 offer, saying it was "bizarre" as it had seen no evidence of a rise in crime or injury.

Colchester Borough Council said it had allocated up to £185,000 in its budget to pay for the lights to be turned back on. Tendring District Council is due to debate the issue later.

Jon Clempner, leader at Harlow Council, said: "I am pleased that the Essex County Council's position of inflexibility has changed to illustrate that it can respond to local needs."

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