Exeter students fight to keep lights on
EXETER'S students are continuing their campaign against switching off street lights at night after some towns which have done so saw accidents increase.
The University of Exeter Students' Guild says Milton Keynes council reversed its decision on part-night lighting when police data showed a 30 per cent increase in accidents and two related deaths after the scheme was introduced in September 2011.
Devon County Council is to begin consulting in June on plans to switch some street lights off in Exeter between 12.30am and 5.30am.
The guild's campaign has gathered more than 2,500 student signatures against the scheme – in addition consultation in St James shows 90 per cent against the proposals.
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Grace Hopper, Students' Guild vice president for welfare and community, said: "Put simply, a price cannot be placed on the safety of all Exeter residents. Any savings the county council makes will only be passed on to other areas of the public purse.
"Increases in accidents or criminal activity will have to be dealt with by the police, the NHS or other agencies.
"Given the increases in accidents and the tragic deaths that have been linked to similar moves elsewhere in the country, the guild would like to see the county council publish its risk assessment into the switch-off."
Richard Westlake, county councillor for Newtown and Polsloe, which has a high student population, said: "I have done a significant amount of consultation. What is coming through is that residents would like to see the lights on although some say they would not mind a trial of having the lights dimmed.
"What the students found in other parts of the country needs to be taken into consideration."
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "We have met with the Exeter University Students' Guild a number of times to discuss their concerns and explain our approach to the street lighting energy savings programme in Exeter. We understand and share their safety concerns and these will help shape the proposals for the city. We will be consulting with the police, councillors and the guild to develop an initial set of proposals. Main roads through communities and busy junctions will remain lit all night, as well as areas of high night time activity, such as the city centre. We will develop a network of late night walking home routes, which will also remain lit all night.
"Our plans for all areas of the city will be displayed so that people can see what is planned and can comment."