Fear when lights go out

A Knaresborough woman said she is frightened to go out on dark nights around her home because of the lack of street lighting.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 2:29 pm
Flaxdale Close, Knaresborough. Picture: Google Streetview

The woman, who does not wish to be identified, has lived on Flaxdale Close on the Eastfield estate for 40 years but she said a council policy has affected her socially over the past years.

“There is not one light left on in our road when the lights are switched off because of the light curfew,” she explained.

“There are quite a few elderly people living alone in this road.

“I also know youngsters used to use the path connecting Flaxdale to Farndale when they came home late from a night out. There is no light on this path.

“My garage/car standing is about 20 yards from my front door and I cannot see a thing when it is really dark.

“It has also affected my social life as I have to make sure I am home before the lights go out.”

North Yorkshire County Council’s street lighting energy reduction programme started in 2012 with cross party support from Members.

The assessment process identified street lights that should remain in operational throughout the night for safety and operational purposes.

These included major roads, major junctions, lighting in the vicinity of traffic calming or police/council operated CCTV, lighting in the vicinity of 24hr emergency services, lighting in town centres, areas with high incidents of crime/anti-social behaviour and lighting near road crossings.

Any street light that did not meet the criteria was switched off between midnight and 5am.

The council stated that in total around 26,000 street lights were converted to part-night operation including those on Flaxdale Close.

The woman said she wrote to the council some years ago to express concerns but was told the close did not qualify for lighting as there was no major road junction.

“Only if there was a rise in crime would they consider leaving a light on,” she told the Post.

“I am all for saving energy but feel it is very unfair that Harrogate can have lights come on in the trees at 4pm in winter and we, who pay the council tax, cannot have one in our road during the night.

“I often wake in the middle of the night and it is frightening when you look out of the window and you cannot see a thing.”

She said she had raised the issue again following national debate about the safety of women when walking alone.

Melisa Burnham, Highways Area Manager at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We are aware that some residents may be opposed to our energy reduction programme, however, with ever increasing energy costs and carbon reduction high on our agenda we believe this policy to be essential.

“That said, we have made a commitment to review the lighting in a specific area if North Yorkshire Police believe that an increase in crime could be mitigated by switching the lighting to all-night operation.

“We will, therefore, request the latest crime figures for the area and if there has been a noticeable increase, the lighting status will be reassessed.”