Street lights to be switched on

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THOUSANDS of street lamps are to be switched back on along city grid roads after the council performed a u-turn based on safety.

The original cost-cutting move, which has prompted several accidents and one fatality, is simply too dangerous to continue, say the ruling Conservatives.

They are now considering a “universal dimming” of lights at night to prevent motorists’ eyes from having to adjust from light to dark during the black spots.

Meanwhile the Tories have lashed out at the Liberal Democrats, the party in power at the time, for going ahead with the switch-off without an official safety assessment.

Some 3,300 lights were switched off a year ago, saving almost £100,000 during the council’s multi- million pound budget crisis.

Within months 25-year-old Gary Tompkins was struck by a van as he walked home near Eaglestone roundabout after a night out with friends. The young caterer, who was walking in the middle of the road and wearing low visibility clothing, died later in hospital.

After the inquest Coroner Tom Osborne wrote to the council asking if the switch off could be reconsidered.

Council leader Andrew Geary said this week: “It is right the council looks to save money but not at the risk of endangering people.

“I am pleased that we now have the evidence to enable us to review this unreasonable decision made by the previous administration.”

Cabinet members are due to vote on the proposal next week and Mr Geary is confident the switch on, albeit a dimmer one, will be approved.

“The danger seems to be when motorists go from a brightly lit area of road to a dark one. If all the lights are dimmed slightly then it will avoid this inconsistency and be a lot safer,” he said.

The highways department has suggested ways it can ‘reabsorb’ the £100,000 saving – but Mr Geary said that doesn’t mean potholes will go unfilled or roads unmaintained.