Caerphilly County Borough Council’s controversial street lighting policy is set to be reviewed.
The council has said it is working closely with Gwent Police around the issue of community safety, with “several formal meetings” arranged to discuss the issue.
Currently, street lights in the borough are switched off each night between midnight and 5.30am.
Councillor Philippa Marsden, leader of the council, said: “We understand that there are concerns amongst some members of the public regarding the implementation of part night lighting; I’d like to assure them that this will be reviewed in partnership with Gwent Police and whether this has had any impact on crime levels.
“This will also be considered closely in line with our ongoing commitments to reach our carbon savings target and any cost benefits we get as a result, will ensure other services to residents are not impacted as a result of any changes to our part night lighting policy.”
Cllr Marsden added: “The safety of our communities is our key priority and we are working actively with Gwent Police to do all that we can to ensure this.
“These formal meetings demonstrate our commitment to review all aspects of community safety throughout the county borough.”
Cllr Colin Mann, leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, welcomed the review but said: “It’s long overdue.
“It’s a great shame it wasn’t reviewed a long time ago.
“A lot of people out there have been very concerned. I believe there’s been more complaints about this than anything else in the history of Caerphilly County Borough Council.”
He added: “The decision was made to save money, but was portrayed as something else.
“There are other ways to help the environment other than turning lights off for a few hours a day.”
Cllr Mann also questioned the timing of the announcement, with voters set to take to the polls on Thursday, May 6.
“Time for another discussion”
When Blackwood’s independent councillor Nigel Dix wrote to Cllr Marsden about the issue in March, she responded saying: “Time for another discussion on the topic.”
Caerphilly 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.”
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.
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Caerphilly’s Labour MP Wayne David and Hefin David, Labour candidate for Caerphilly in the upcoming Senedd Election, called on the council to rethink the policy back in October.
At the time, Wayne David said he understood the council had to save money, but said the policy was “causing concern amongst many people, particularly the elderly”.
Hefin David, who was Senedd Member for Caerphilly at the time, said people needed to feel safe at all times.
Speaking after the tragic death of Sarah Everard in London, Plaid Cymru’s Caerphilly candidate Delyth Jewell, Senedd Member for South Wales East at the time, said events had “brought home to us all just how important it is that we have street lighting to make people feel safe in their area”.
She added: “Without adequate street lighting, many residents don’t feel safe leaving their homes after dark, and this is a particular concern for young women at the moment.
“I really hope that the council backtracks on this worrying decision and keeps the lights on.”
Last year, Blackwood councillor Kevin Etheridge, who is standing as an independent candidate in Islwyn, tabled a motion to the council calling for a review into the street lighting policy.
After the motion was rejected, Cllr Etheridge hit out and accused the council of leaving residents “in the dark”.
He said: “Many elderly and vulnerable residents are concerned about their safety.”
Senedd Election 2021 candidates
- Steven Aicheler – Welsh Liberal Democrats
- Hefin David – Welsh Labour
- Delyth Jewell – Plaid Cymru
- Stephen Jones – Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party
- Steven Mayfield – Welsh Conservatives
- Tim Price – Reform UK
- Gavin Chambers – Welsh Conservatives
- Kevin Etheridge – Independent
- Michael Ford – Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party
- Neil Hamilton – UKIP
- Rhys Mills – Plaid Cymru
- Rhianon Passmore – Welsh Labour
- Oliver Townsend – Welsh Liberal Democrats
- James Wells – Reform UK
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney
- Jez Becker – Welsh Liberal Democrats
- Dawn Bowden – Welsh Labour
- Donna Gavin – Welsh Conservatives
- Ian Gwynne – Plaid Cymru
- Colin Jones – Reform UK
- Hugh Moelwyn Hughes – Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party
- George Pykov – UKIP
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