A bid to force the council to review its controversial street lighting policy has failed.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has already switched off 14,200 lights between midnight and 5.30am, with a further 8,495 set to follow by the end of the year.
More than 200 complaints have been made about the switch-off.
Independent councillor Kevin Etheridge, who represents the Blackwood ward, put forward the motion, supported by Plaid Cymru, calling on the council to reconsider its plans.
Cllr Etheridge apologised to residents after the motion was rejected at a meeting of full council on October 6.
He said: “I apologise to the many residents who contacted me over the last several months over their concerns and worries.
“All I was asking for was a review into the policy and procedure.”
Cllr Etheridge accused the council of leaving residents “in the dark” and said: “Many elderly and vulnerable residents are concerned about their safety.”
Independent councillor Nigel Dix, who represents the Blackwood ward, described the decision as “disappointing but not unexpected” and said: “In my ward, there have been three burglaries carried out at 4am, leaving residents feeling vulnerable, and their properties damaged.
“In this case, switching on three lights will help solve the problem.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Colin Mann, who leads the council’s Plaid Cymru group, accused the council of turning “a deaf ear” to the public and said: “Labour’s great switch-off is particularly impacting the lives of people who live alone, also the vulnerable, the elderly and shift workers.
“There’s a world of difference between switching off lights in the heart of communities where people live than on a by-pass or industrial estate, where there are no homes.”
Cllr Mann added: “Before Labour councillors shout ‘Where would the money come from’ they should remember the millions of pounds they found to pay for the senior officers’ pay scandal.
“The money can be found if there’s a will but Labour seem determined to confine the people of Caerphilly to the darkness this autumn and winter.”
Cllr Mann also demanded the council halts all further light switch-offs in the borough.
Cllr Jamie Pritchard, the spokesperson for the Labour group of councillors, said: “The council has considered the impacts of climate change to be a high impact on residents of the county borough, so protecting the environment is not something our group believes we can suspend in the run up to an election.
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“We do not believe the public would support this council pumping thousands of additional tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere whilst asking residents to pay an additional 3% on their council tax to do so.
“We’re disappointed that opposition councillors have sought to suspend our commitment to protecting the environment for a perceived short-term political gain in the run up to an election.”
The council’s head of infrastructure, Marcus Lloyd, said turning the lights back on would cost £1.24m in the first year.
In June 2019, the council passed a ‘climate emergency’ motion, which was backed by councillors from all parties.
The motion commits the council to making Caerphilly a net zero carbon local authority by 2030, while calling on Welsh and UK governments for support towards their goal.
Additional reporting by the Local Democracy Reporting Service
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