TENDRING will be plunged into darkness next weekend as street lights are switched off.

The controversial plan will see most street lamps turned off between midnight and 5am in a bid to save energy and cash.

The big switch-off was due to take place on New Year’s Day but was postponed after Tendring Council asked for more time for consultation.

Campaigners claim the move will make the district’s streets more dangerous although County Hall bosses argued that pilot schemes in Maldon and Uttlesford had been successful with no negative impact on crime figures.

They say the countywide scheme will save £14million.

Tendring Neighbourhood Watch chairman Mike Vaughan- Chatfield said: “The lights are there for safety and I believe that should be maintained.

“Using LED lighting would be cheaper to install and run so short-term and long-term it would appear to be the best option.

“Southend Council has now changed to LED lighting. It will save money, cover the costs and come out with a profit.

“No lights will be switched off in Southend and I see that as the way forward.”

Harwich councillor Ivan Henderson also attacked the proposals and believes the county council's consultation was not fullsome enough.

Mr Henderson, who is deputy Labour leader on the county council, added: “I think the county council has taken the easiest and the cheapest option which is going to rocket people’s fear of crime.

“We have an elderly population in Tendring worrying about crime This decision could have a huge impact on their health.

“I believe the crime levels will increase as well because lights in burglary hotspots, which are well-known in Harwich, will be switched off.

“Money should have been invested looking at LED lighting.

“This is going to bring extra strain on the police force which is already under huge pressure.

“It will also damage night time business because people will not want to be out late in some areas and walking home in pitch black."