HIGHWAYS chief Rodney Bass says even if Colchester’s street lights had been on, Jim Attfield’s murder could not have been prevented.

Mr Bass, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways, took the decision in November to switch off the majority of street lights across the town between 12am and 5am in a bid to save about £130,000.

In the aftermath of Mr Attfield’s death, Mr Bass has agreed to keep streetlights on in the Riverside Estate, near to where Mr Attfield was found in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Mr Bass said: “We do not know that this horrific incident would have been prevented by street lights and therefore we need to understand more about the circumstances before drawing any definitive conclusions.

“I think the public can be reassured by a stronger police presence and I certainly agree that police advice should be heeded over the next few days.”

He added: “We are of course liasing closely with the police and have already suspended the switch off within the vicinity of where the body was discovered.

“The important consideration at this stage is to ensure that the police are given our full support to help them establish exactly the circumstances of the murder and to apprehend the killer (or killers) now on the loose.”