Caerphilly County Borough Council has ignored concerns over crime and public safety, according to residents affected by the authority’s street light switch-off.
Since April last year, the council has been replacing streetlights with energy efficient LEDs – switching them off between the hours of midnight and 5.30am.
The energy-saving move cuts bills and reduces the council’s carbon footprint.
Residents of David Street, in Blackwood, have claimed that since the switch-off, incidences of drug dealing and fly-tipping have increased in the lane behind their properties.
Retired HMRC worker Darryl Thurairajah, 68, has lived on the street for the past 25 years.
He said: “We keep asking these questions, but the great powers that be in the council ignore us.
“Keeping the street lights on will cost pennies, but they say they can’t switch them on because of the carbon footprint.”
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In a statement to Caerphilly Observer, the council said it did not have a statutory duty to provide street lighting, which exists for the safety of road users.
The council said the switch-off policy has not led to an increase in the crime figures.
While there is contradictory evidence that switching-off street lights leads to an increase in crime, streetlights do help residents feel safer.
Ian Lewis, who has lived on the street for 25 years, was the victim of a break-in recently. He feels having the two lane lights on would be a deterrent.
The 48-year-old painter and decorator said: “We phoned the police and they responded quite quickly. When the officers were here, they were standing in front of us and we couldn’t even see them.”
The garage break-in happened over a weekend in August. That same night, a nearby restaurant and gym were also broken into.
Residents feel ignored.
Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix has been pressing the issue with the council.
He said: “The lack of street lighting has resulted in an increase in fly-tipping, which never happened before the street lights were switched off.
“I have reported fly-tipping on three occasions in the last six months. I am told that the burglaries happened around 4am and I am very concerned that organised criminal gangs could be operating in the Blackwood area and taking advantage of the lack of streetlighting.
“Residents are very worried and feel vulnerable, with many questioning the lack of street lights after midnight. I am asking the council to review the lighting provision in our town. “
Following the residents’ complaints, a route from the High Street to the lane – often used by fleeing shoplifters – is being blocked up and an overgrowth of trees, which is partially blocking a CCTV camera, is also being cleared by the council.
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