Comment: Shining a light on grid road debate

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IT may have taken a while, but the latest council administration has finally seen the light, and now it seems the good citizens of MK are to join them.

The announcement last week that lights on roads approaching roundabouts on a number of grid roads are to switched back on, subject to a council review, is a great idea.

For months we have been in the dark, quite literally, following measures to switch off street lights in a cost cutting exercise to help balance the books.

Though unpopular, we were told turning off around 2,700 street lights would equate to a saving of £394,000.

But, even in times of austerity, saving money can’t come before lives – put simply you can’t put a price on the safety of drivers going about their business.

Some may not have noticed.that street lights on a number of major grid roads were switched off and it’s been less obvious during the longer evenings.

However, the prospect of long winter months when it get dark at around 4pm, is depressing and dangerous enough for drivers without having to contend with a blackout on some of our roads.

Now I’m not suggesting switching the lights back on to improve people’s moods, but the safety issue is a worry.

If a street or grid road is lit up drivers can see other motorists, judge stopping distances and see potential obstacles a lot easier.

Former mayor, Phil Gerella, see Letters, page 12, puts it best when he suggests the council was naive in thinking Milton Keynes would be safer than Northampton or Corby which reversed its policy on street lights due to the number of accidents.

MK has one of the fastest urban road systems in the country with some reports suggesting a number of people injured on the roads and even one man killed as a direct result of the lights switch off.

Surely that is one victim too many. And surely cuts can be found elsewhere to help save a bit of money?

Despite endless criticism of its roundabouts I have always judged Milton Keynes to be one of the best areas in the country to drive owing largely to the grid system.

However, if these areas are 
left in the dark then our roads may remain the best – but not necessarily the safest.

> The wait is finally over. After years of planning the London Games are finally here with the world’s finest athletes converging on the capital to compete for Olympic glory.

So never mind all the negatives around the cost of the opening ceremony and the security issues. It’s unlikely the Games will ever be held in the UK again in our lifetime so let’s salute our Olympians and wish them luck in their quest for Gold.

>> Gareth Ellis writes a weekly column in Thursday’s MK Citizen: Gareth from the Office