A NUMBER of “unnecessary” street lights could be turned off in Colchester as Essex County Council reviews its lighting scheme.

The Gazette has seen a forward plan where the Cabinet is being asked to approve a review of street lighting, and the switching off of lights in areas where they felt there was an “over provision”.

The county council is reviewing 1,282 of its lights in Colchester.

Based on a review in Harlow, an estimate of 161 could potentially be switched off. About 135 of these could be in local roads and 26 on major traffic routes.

However, the council said there was not a specific figure for Colchester at this time and lights will not be switched off in areas where it would jeopardise safety.

Ian Grundy, Essex county councillor responsible for highways, said: “These proposals are to review street lighting and only switch off lighting which unnecessarily overlaps.

“Only where the light is proved to be a duplicate and there are no safety concerns will a street light be considered. Our current estimates suggest this would affect less than one per cent of streetlights in Essex.

“These plans would have a positive environmental impact as well as saving taxpayers around £60,000 per year which can then be reinvested in pothole repairs and road improvements.”

If a street light is longer being required, the light will be turned off and a notice will be fixed to the column to make it clear it has been switched off intentionally.

The report added: “Should there be a requirement to turn any street light back on, this can be done quickly without the need for an engineer to visit the site.”

Another 1,049 lights will be reviewed in Braintree, with a potential 132 being switched off. Maldon will see 364 lights reviewed, with a total of 46 being considered unnecessary.

However, Essex county councillor Julie Young (lab) said she and her party were concerned about the move.

Some expressed concerns over partial street light switch offs, saying it exacerbates crime.

Mrs Young said: “The council wants to plunge us further into darkness.

“Essex has seen a sharp escalation in crime and the divisional commander said in some areas street lights must go back on.

“We will be fighting this proposal, we have had no consultation and its just not good enough.”