The disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard earlier this month prompted a national debate over women’s safety and the safety of our streets after dark.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson quickly announced that a fund aimed at improving CCTV and street lighting would be almost doubled to £45 million.
But what about Caerphilly County Borough where our street lights are switched off between midnight and 5.30am?
Caerphilly Observer asked Caerphilly County Borough Council if it would be putting a bid in to the fund through the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
We have not received a response to this query.
Blackwood Independent Councillor Nigel Dix asked council leader Philippa Marsden whether a review of the policy would be going ahead.
Cllr Marsden, in her emailed response to Cllr Dix, wrote: “Time for another discussion on the topic.”
- Labour’s Jeff Cuthbert re-elected as Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner
- Regional Senedd Members for South Wales East confirmed
- Labour holds Islwyn: Rhianon Passmore re-elected
- Caerphilly re-elects Labour’s Hefin David as its Senedd Member
- Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney re-elects Labour’s Dawn Bowden as its Senedd Member
Caerphily Observer asked the council to clarify and was sent the following statement from Cllr Marsden.
“The tragic death of Sarah Everard has sparked an important national debate around the issue of community safety, particularly for women. It is clear that this is a complex and multi-faceted debate that requires a shift in attitudes and behaviours across our society.
“I’m aware there have been calls for our street lighting policy to be reviewed in response to safety concerns, but it is important to note that we have no evidence to suggest that the introduction of part-night lighting has led to an increase in crime.
“We have always said that we will closely monitor the policy and review as appropriate.
“We will also continue to work in partnership with our colleagues in Gwent Police and other agencies as part of this process.
“There needs to be a much wider debate that takes into account a range of factors and it is important that we now start having these discussions to help safeguard the whole community going forward.”
In October 2020, the council’s head of infrastructure, Marcus Lloyd, said turning the lights back on would cost £1.24m in the first year.
The council has maintained that switching off the lights does not mean an increase in crime.
Gwent Police have said that if they identify any areas where they feel the lights need to come back on, they will let the council know.
While there is contradictory evidence that switching-off street lights leads to an increase in crime, streetlights do help residents feel safer.
The policy, opposed by the Plaid Cymru group on the council, has also caused a split between the Labour council group and Senedd Member Hefin David and Member of Parliament Wayne David.
At the time, Wayne Daivd said he understood the council had to save money, but said the policy was “causing concern amongst many people, particularly the elderly”.
Senedd Member Hefin David said people needed to feel safe at all times.
- Caerphilly Council has switched off three times as many lights as neighbouring authorities
- MP and MS call for street light switch-off to be reconsidered
- Drug dealing, fly-tipping, and break-ins – why residents want their street lights back on
- Plaid group urges council to ditch street light switch off
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